Clarens with its art influence, scenic backdrops of the Maloti Mountain and Rooiberge, quiet demeanor and ever flowing rivers has made this ‘jewel’ of the Eastern Free State truly a cut above the rest.
The town is over a 100 years as it was established in 1912 as a result of two farms being sold Leliehook bought from Hermanus Steyn in 1910/11 and Piet De Villiers selling his farm Naauwpoort (situated near the Titanic rock) to a company at the time wanting to have a 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’s 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.
The first people to dwell in the town were bush men due to the heritage scene of Khoisan’s Hunter gatherers shown on the town’s rock art.
Today the small town is known as a haven for tourists who visit to escape their hectic lifestyle and schedules. And with roughly a three to four hours’ drive depending which of the main cities, Johannesburg, Durban or Bloemfontein you coming from it makes for an easy getaway.
The beauty of nature is abundant as well within the area, with its ‘claim’ of the most trees in the Free State makes the town a constant muse for its art scene of many galleries and artists who some well-known such as Frans Claerhout.
The town has a country appeal too with most of its homes or holiday farms, built in sandstone, a geological feature inspired from the sandstone mountains in the area. This feature is also an architectural attraction for some of the wedding venues in the area.
Clarens is a bride and grooms dream when it comes to wedding venues whether it’s an outdoor wedding out in the appeal of nature or indoors with the golden backdrop of buildings of some of its wedding venues.
Artists, tourists and residents of the town hang out and socialise at President Square or the Windmill centre at a well-known eatery in the area, the Purple Onion Deli to snack on biltong, home-made jam and freshly baked bread.