Diamond Fields

A visit to one of Kimberley's many museums is sure
to be both fun and educational

The Northern Cape is not just home to beautiful wildflowers, but it was also the source of literally tonnes of diamonds. The Diamond Fields of the Northern Cape describes the area where a lot of diamonds were mined in the previous centuries. Even though most of the diamond mining has ended in the area, visitors can still get a glimpse of what the early diamond miners of the era had to live through to make a living.

The one feature of the Diamond Fields that is probably the most well-known is the Big Hole of Kimberley. Situated in the city of Kimberley, it has the reputation of being the largest man-made hole in the world. It is over 365 metres deep (the water makes it hard for accurate measurements) and covers an area of about 16 hectares. It is estimated that over 25 million tonnes of dirt was shifted to create the hole and it lead to the discovery nearly 14.5 million carats of diamonds! That's nearly three tonnes of diamonds!

Next to the Big Hole is the Kimberly Mine Museum. This open air museum is one of the finest in the world. It offers visitors a view of Kimberley during the Victorian era at the height of the diamond rush. Aside from shops, houses, a church and some famous buildings, the De Beers Hall showcases a variety of rough, uncut diamonds. Here visitors can see the Eureka diamond, as well as the largest uncut diamond in the world that weighs in at an astonishing 616 carats.

The Diamond Fields also offer visitors the chance to see the inside of a real diamond mine. Even though the Kimberley diamond operations have stopped some years ago, the mine has been converted into a museum. It offers tours into the mine that shows visitors just how diamonds were mined and are mined today. Visitors can also get the chance to try and find their own diamonds if they want.

This area is dominated by the diamond industry, but it is not the only sight that is has to offer. The Diamond Fields are also home to a number of historical towns that grew up around the area as a result of the diamond rush, but that were not involved all that much in the diamond trade. One of these historical towns is Griquatown. This town started as a missionary station to serve the people that settled in the area. Today the town is still there, but it also boasts some interesting museums. The area also has various galleries boasting Victorian photography and Africana from the diamond rush years.

When visiting the Northern Cape, the Diamond Fields must be on the itinerary. Diamonds played an important role in the history of the area and South Africa. These stones have left an indelible mark on the landscape of the country and the Diamond Fields is one of the largest remnants of that time.


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