During the Basotho war of 1865 - 1866, five “burghers” from the Transvaal were murdered in the Eastern Free State. As a direct consequence war was officially declared by the Transvaal against the Basotho leader Moshoeshoe and Paul Kruger, together with a commando of burghers defeated the Basotho at the Battle of Naauwpoortnek.
A monument in honour of the five burghers murdered by the Basotho on the 29th September 1865, was originally erected on the farm Ararat just outside the town of Clarens. This monument was later moved to Clarens and re-sited on the central square.
In 1910 the farm “Leliehoek” (which was situated near where the Kloof dam is now) was purchased from Mr Hermanus Steyn, and in 1911 Mr Piet de Villiers sold his farm “Naauwpoort” (situated near the Titanic, the rock formation towards the north of town) to a company wanting to establish a village here in the mountains. These two farms were divided into erven and sold for the sum of fifty pounds each.
In 1912 a commission was appointed to finalise the establishment of the little village in the mountains. A decision was made to name the village “Clarens” in honour of President Paul Kruger’s influence in the area. President Paul Kruger spent his last days as a voluntary exile in the attractive village of Clarens in Switzerland and Clarens was thus a very apt name for the mountainous village here in the Eastern Free State.
The people of Clarens like to think that two memorable events occurred in 1912.
The first was the establishment of Clarens - the second was the launching of the “unsinkable” Titanic. Tragically, the Titanic did sink and as the news flashed around the stunned world, people in Clarens could talk of nothing else. An unknown resident looked north toward the “nek”, saw the prominent jutting rock and said, “It looks like the Titanic”, and that’s what the rock formation has been called ever since. The Titanic Rock stands like a sentry to welcome all who visit the village and invites them to come and experience the warm-hearted hospitality of the inhabitants.
The town of Clarens is part of the scenic Highlands Route and is surrounded by mountainous splendor. The Rooiberge is the range encompassing the village, whilst further on towards the southeast, the mighty Maluti’s are to be found. All around Clarens are the sandstone cliffs with their multi-colored layers - this horizontal strata is a unique geological feature of the area, and is known as the Clarens formation. Many homes in the Clarens Valley are made from Clarens Sandstone.
The village of Clarens has become know as the “Jewel of the Free State” - rich in beauty, with an aura of peace and tranquillity. Clarens is endowed with more trees than most other Free State towns - the fresh, light green willows and colourful blossoms of the many fruit trees are an unforgettable sight in spring time; whilst the magnificent autumn shades of the Lombard poplars attract artists, photographers and nature lovers. The town is known for the many Art and Craft shops which offer the visitor a wide range of curios and original artwork.
Another feature which adds to the picturesque atmosphere of the village is the many sandstone buildings in and around Clarens. The popular Golden Gate Highlands National Park is also not far from Clarens, and the area attracts many visitors.
Do the same! Come spend some time in Clarens! Come take a leisurely walk around President Square in the center of Clarens and up Main Street and browse through the wide variety of curios available, or appreciate the talents of the many artists who display their products in the arts & craft shops, or simply sit down at one of the many restaurants and coffee shops and relax while taking in the peace and tranquility of this wonderful little village.
Visitors to the quaint village of Clarens are spoilt for choice with a host of galleries, craft shops and restaurants to explore, while the more adventurous in the family can indulge themselves in the many outdoor pursuits on offer. Clarens has become an artist’s haven, possibly lured here by the unique golden light cast by the sun on the beautiful sandstone cliffs. Even the ancient inhabitants of the Clarens countryside
were inspired to express themselves artistically as is evident from the many Bushman paintings in the surrounding sandstone cliffs.
It is a destination for the whole family. Dad can go golfing or trout fishing while Mum browses the shops at her leisure or enjoys a spot of tennis. The teens can go horse riding, river rafting or play paintball games while the younger children hunt bones on the Dinosaur trail. Grandparents can indulge in the more leisurely pursuits of bowls, game watching and bird spotting.
Come to Clarens for an awesome experience!