The Eastern Free State is arguably the capital of sandstone, birthplace of the first sandstone used to construct buildings that today are almost 100 years old.
The historic Union Buildings in Pretoria are a magnificent example of the quality and beauty of the sandstone taken out of the quarries around Ficksburg.
Over 100 years since it’s completion in 1913 by Sir Herbert Baker, the Union Buildings stands proud as a pure reflection in architecture of the beauty and depth to be found in the colours shading the sandstone.
In Clarens, the NG Church is one of the oldest, and still one of the most beautiful buildings in the village.
If you want to start at the very beginning of the Sandstone Route, then the sandstone formation that welcomes you to Clarens, called Titanic Rock, will be the start of a journey into cliffs of sandstone you can only view in awe.
Named Titanic Rock, this formation is as massive as the ship after which it was named, and is just a foretaste of what is yet to come as you explore the sandstone cliffs in the surrounding areas.
The rich, warm ochre, red, brown, black, grey or yellow colours in the sandstone constantly change according to where the sun is at any given time, but nothing beats early morning or sunset for capturing the sandstone cliffs in all their majesty.
Against the backdrop of the Maluti Mountains, Redberg Mountains and sandstone cliffs, the fresh green leaves in every shade on fruit trees blossoming, add yet another layer beauty of the Clarens Valley.
As winter approaches, the autumn colours of leaves come close to echoing the colours in the surrounding sandstone.
Clarens is picturesque in a picture perfect way, but a far greater dollop of charm and majesty is to be found in its sandstone architecture, most of which is as old as the town itself.
Photographers and artists find great inspiration in the architecture, most of which has been in place since Clarens was first established 100 years ago. It’s no wonder this has become a haven for artists and photographers!
The Cape has the Wine Route, but Clarens has the Art Route! With about 20 arts and crafts galleries lining the Art Route, it’s not surprising that Clarens is considered an art Mecca.
There is such an enormous selection and variety of art on display along this route that every taste will be satisfied, and every vehicle leaving town will be loaded with a beautiful memory of this magical village.
The crafts are as interesting and varied as the art is, so bring a healthy-sized wallet if you’re going to be buying gifts and mementos. After all, it’s not as if you’ll have to pay for being overweight on the trip home.
Hospitality in Clarens is as rich and warm as the colour to be found in the sandstone surroundings.
If you’d like to spend your holiday being looked after by a team that puts their hospitality and your comfort at the top of their list, then booking accommodation at Clarens Eddies B&B/Self Catering will fulfil your every wish.
As for the sandstone formations and architecture in and around Clarens, leave it to owner Dawn Trevelyan and her staff to point you in the right direction for the most beautiful examples of both.