ABOUT PARYS, FREE STATE
Parys (pronounced “pɑ”-“race”) is the hippest, arty-ist and most picturesque country town in South Africa (well don’t judge us we might be a little biased.) The town is situated on the banks of the Vaal River in the Northern Free State of South Africa which means we are really good in water, our canoeists cleanup at the Nationals every year.
Parys is the most popular tourist town near Johannesburg and over weekends visitors from Gauteng flock to our town in their droves to visit our shores as the harvest of fresh food, artisan beer and gift shops abound.
We host the annual Free State Madeira Flower Festival one of the most popular tourist events in South Africa.
The Flower Festival encompasses close to 800 participants including 500 dancers, Madeiran traditional dancers, local drum majorettes, giant puppets and over 200 000 fresh cut flowers are used to decorate five magnificent floats that represent the five tourism routes in the Free State Province. The 2017 event yielded an impressive 40 000+ spectators and the concert after the parade drew an additional 8000 visitors.
WHAT TO DO
The Breë Street “golden mile” is mostly responsible for Parys being a famous tourist destination. Why? Because the best food and drink in the kingdom is served here and the shopping is second to none with remarkable shops like artists studios and galleries, antique stores, tea gardens, lifestyle stores, delis, spas, restaurants, coffee shops, arts & craft and gift shops scattered everywhere.
We offer more adventure sports than any other small town in the country! To mention a few we offer – quad and mountain biking, paintball, archery, fly-fishing, hiking, abseiling, skiing, power boating, canoeing, horse riding, angling, 4x4 courses, team-building courses, a fabulous zip line, gliding, white-water river rafting and many more.
If you are not an adrenaline junkie we can offer you the following:
Exploring old gold mine tunnels, berry picking, game drives, lion watching (we fall in the Free State Lion Route) bird watching (like in real birds with wings and stuff,) hot air ballooning, guided tours, sampling artisan beer at the Dog & Fig Craft Brewery, watching an actual sunset over the Vaal River and surrounding mountains.
WHAT TO SEE
Churches – locals joke that Parys must be the most religious town in all of South Africa as Parys has well over 25 churches. Luckily there are only two you need to visit. One of them is the Dutch Reformed Church. The building of this historical church started in 1876. Before it could be completed however the Anglo-Boer War broke out and the church was occupied by British Forces. During the war, the structure of the church was damaged and a bell tower could never be raised. The church decided to build a small steeple in the garden for the bell and the church is now famous for the shortest Church steeple in the country. Then there is the Anglican Church (1915.) Blue granite rock was used in its construction and it is a beautiful building to visit.
Suspension Bridge – probably, the most noteworthy attraction. The 1918 suspension bridge was built as the original access road to the Parys Golf Estate.
Town Hall – this 1930’s building reflects the Art Deco Style predominant from that era.
Parys Museum – constructed in 1904 and declared a Provincial Heritage Site.
Some 2023 million years ago the mother of all rocks (a meteorite,) larger than Table Mountain (+- 300km’s wide) hurtled (+- 36 000 km/h) through space making its way to earth. Unfortunately, Iron Man and the Avengers had yet to be discovered and nothing could stop it. It hit the earth penetrating 17 km’s deep and left a massive crater in its wake. Parys is perched on the edge of this crater which today is known as the Vredefort Dome World Heritage Area.
Skipping a few years, roughly 200 million years past the majestic Vaal River started flowing (I know its weird just trust me.) It carved its way through the Vredefort Crater. Now that there was water, animals and ultimately humans flocked to the area. A few years later in 1872 Parys was established. As with most South African towns, the first building of note was a church of which building started in 1899.
WORLD HERITAGE SITE
Why is Parys exceptional? Most probably due to it being located within the world-famous Vredefort Dome! The site where X marks the spot of the earliest known and most formidable meteorite strike zone in the world! As a result, the Vredefort Dome was recently suggested as becoming UNESCO World Heritage Site. The geological phenomena of the area are spectacular and students worldwide flock to the area for research and archaeological digging.
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