Founded in 1833 as the first French Protestant mission and named after the biblical Mt Moriah, Morija is regarded as the cultural centre of Lesotho. It was given the name Selibeng Sa Thuto – which translates as “The Well-spring of Learning” – and certainly constitues an inspiring source for anyone eager to discover Basotho heritage, culture and history.
The town retains many reminders of this rich history including some of the oldest buildings in Lesotho: Maeder House - the oldest standing building and Lesotho Evangelical Church - the oldest church.
Morija is also home to Lesotho’s pioneer museum, Morija Museum and Archives, which has an impressive collection covering Lesotho’s cultural and natural heritage, past and present.
Founded in 1861 and still operating today, Morija Printing Works has published one of the oldest newspapers on the African continent, and the first African novel. » Read more on ‘points of interest’.
Morija exhibits a range of architectural styles. At the homestead of the Chief, for example, 5 generations of architecture can be seen. Throughout the mission area as well as in various sections of the town, one will encounter a broad range of architectural styles. Notable also are the historic graveyards. These are but two of many examples, and visitors do well to take a walking tour of the town. » Read more on ‘points of interest’.
Many of the first schools in Lesotho were established in Morija. As an education hub, Morija gained the name “The Well-spring of Learning”. Today there is the Thabeng High School, 1868, Morija Girl’s High School, 1950, Morija Theological School, 1882, Morija Primary School, 1835 and Morija English Medium School (MEMS), 1918. Over the years, these schools have produced highly respected leaders in a range of professions in Lesotho and southern Africa.
Lesotho was the first country in Africa in which dinosaur footprints were discovered. Dr. Eugene Casalis Jr., who was caring for Basotho soldiers wounded during the Gun War in 1881, made the trek up and down Makhoarane Mountain. In the midst of this activity, he noticed a large slab of rock with large footprints clearly visible in the stone.
Nestled below rugged sandstone cliffs, Morija is a small rural town dotted with sites of cultural value and natural beauty. Morija is also distinctive in that it is full of lovely old trees, which line some of its roads and cover its lower hillsides, providing it with a different ambiance altogether.