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Rustenberg History and Tourist Information
Rustenburg is a city in the North West Province of South Africa on the edge of the Magaliesburg Mountains. Most of the world has only recently become aware of the city due to its role in hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but it holds a special place in the region’s history. Unfortunately, this history has not always been good, but today Rustenburg has emerged as a model of urban development and a tourist center with world-class accommodation and attractions.
Historically, it was an agricultural area where a wide range of fruits, grains and livestock were grown. Rustenburg was founded in 1851 as an economic and governmental center, but quickly became embroiled in the turbulent politics of the time. Some of the first European settlers in the new town were members of the Dutch Reformed Church, one of the many new churches that arose throughout Europe during the Protestant Reformation. These groups were persecuted in their home countries and went far to practice their faith in peace. The community of the Dutch Reformed Church in Rustenburg was founded in 1859.
In the 19th century, the wind of war blew through southern Africa. Descendants of Dutch settlers who called themselves Boers (Farmers) clashed with the British who controlled the Cape Colony from 1795. Boer refugees fled this oppression and left the Cape Colony to settle in the Orange Free State, Transvaal and Natal. This movement, involving several waves of refugees, is known today as the Great Journey.
Rustenburg became involved in this conflict in 1863 when Paul Kruger lived there. Kruger was a leader of the Boer independence movement and president of the Republic of South Africa, an independent Boer state that existed sporadically during the latter half of the 19th century, not to be confused with the present-day Republic of South Africa. Kruger owned a farm near Rustenburg that is now a popular museum.
Unfortunately, this political activity was not good for Rustenburg. When the Second Boer War broke out in 1899, much of the violence centered around Rustenburg and other towns in the region. The Siege of Mafikeng and several other battles took place nearby. All these battle sites are easily accessible from Rustenburg and today are tourist attractions. The city thrived on its interesting and influential past, providing accommodation for tourists and a hub for trips around the region.
Things are very different in modern Rustenburg. The area owns the world’s largest platinum deposits and mining rights have brought new wealth to Rustenburg. The Royal Bafokeng Stadium, which featured so prominently in the 2010 World Cup games, is just one example of development in the area. Hotels offer world-class accommodation, and as Rustenburg lies at the crossroads of several major highways, thousands of travelers travel here.
Thanks to new developments and luxury accommodation, Rustenburg still hasn’t forgotten its past. Visitors can explore the Rustenburg Museum as well as many historical monuments and buildings.
Rustenburg’s past was full of conflict, but it survived and grew into one of southern Africa’s major economic and tourism centers. Travelers can enjoy luxury accommodation, fascinating history and plenty of modern entertainment in a city that is truly a blend of old and new.
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