The city may have been founded on the precious stones but here in the capital of the Northern Cape Province, visitors are likely to be pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful city filled with tree- lined streets, pretty parks, lovely hotels and plenty of trendy boutique shopping spots. It is a city that pays homage to its past through numerous tours, memorials and statues and visiting Kimberley is like taking a snapshot tour of significant and authentic parts of our country's rich history.
In the highstakes world of the diamond rush, as many as 30 000 diggers would scour the soil for their fortunes, with some striking it rich and others finding only misery.
Many of those who got lucky made enormous sums of money from the diamond trade and by the turn of the century, Kimberley had become the undisputed diamond capital of the world. Yet this was a town founded on greed and it resembled, in many ways, something out of the Wild West, with gambling, prostitution, mobsters and disease rife.
Despite this, the city retained it's architectural elegance and Kimberley's oldest residential suburb, Belgravia, dates back to the 1870s, bearing testament to the success stories of the time, with many of these massive homes built during the peak of diamond trade. It's said that there was once more millionaires in this area than anywhere else in the world.
The Big Hole located right in the middle of town is a huge crater dug almost entirely with picks and shovels in an effort to reach the stones. The pit measures over a kilometre deep, with a surface area of 17 hectares, and here men, with little more than man-made tools, managed to remove three tons of diamonds and 22.5 million tons of earth in the process. Today it has been converted into an open air museum with a rather daring lookout point directly over the hole.