Clarens, a small town situated in the Eastern Free State is today a tourist attraction and capital of everything from adventure to art. And what uniquely describes Clarens history of its geological and architectural features, is what the town is built on, sandstone formation from the many buildings in the town of homes, restaurants, and nature reserves, places of activity or accommodation and wedding venues.
But it was not always like that for this town that’s over 100 years old, as there’s a lot of history that adds to making the town into what it is today. A great variety of fossils from teeth, claws and limb bones indicate that there were prehistoric giants of dinosaurs that roamed in the town before the bush men who were the first people to dwell in the town came into the scene, as evident of Khoisan Hunter gatherers shown on the town’s rock art.
Established in 1912, the town of Clarens was a result of two farms being sold Leliehook was bought from Hermanus Steyn in 1910/11 and Piet De Villiers sold his farm Naauwpoort (situated near the Titanic rock) to a company at the time wanting to have village in the area, the two farms were divided into even and sold for fifty pounds. And after negotiations a decision was made to name the village after President Paul Kruger influence on the area after he as a voluntarily exile lived his last days in the town of Clarens in Switzerland. Following the Free State-Basotho War of 1865 – 1866, where five Transvaal burghers were murdered in the Eastern Free State, and as a result war was declared between the Transvaal and the Basotho leader, Moshoeshoe.
Visit the Anglo-Boer War Museum or Surrender Hill Heritage Battlefields site for the documented Clarens history of the Anglo Boer and Basotho bloodshed wars. Clarens often referred to as a ‘jewel’ of the Free State, and one such ‘jewel’ is it’s Titanic Rock. The most notable sandstone cliff in the area is situated just 2kms north of Clarens. It’s a huge rock that stands like a sentry to welcome all who visit the village. The uniquely shaped rock forms part of Clarens history as it was named by a resident after the Titanic ship tragically sunk. Due to its remarkable resemblance and being shaped like the bow of the ship.