6 Things to do when visiting Ypres and surroundings

The Cloth Hall - Lakenhalle
The Cloth Hall – Lakenhalle

Welcome to my world! This is where I live. In the surrounding area of the City of Peace, Ypres. I love culturally vibrant cities but I’m always happy to return to the countryside.

The heaviest battles of the Great War were fought in Ypres and its Flanders Fields. Today, silent witnesses are still visible in the rural landscape… The Pool of Peace memorial in Mesen where you can see the battle remains of  an explosion (a mine crater), The Trenches of Death in Diksmuide,…. And let us not forget the many cemeteries and monuments (Site John McCrae)… But there is more….

     1/ Go to the Ypres Market Square and admire its impressive Cloth Hall. The Cloth Hall -or The Lakenhalle in Flemish- was in medieval times the commercial heart of the city. As Ypres was one of the leading cities of The Flemish weaving industry it was here that the trading of wool and cloth took place. It consists of a series of buildings: the Halls, the Nieuwerck and the Belfry Tower. The Cloth Hall as well as Ypres itself were completely destroyed during the First World War. Today, the In Flanders Fields Museum is situated in The Cloth Hall. When visiting the museum one can climb up the Belfry (UNESCO World Heritage Site) to admire the panoramic view.

The Menin Gate Memorial - De Menenpoort
The Menin Gate Memorial – De Menenpoort

     2/ The Menin Gate Memorial bears the names of more than 54.000 soldiers who fell in the Ypres Salient during the First World War and whose graves are unknown. Attend the Last Post Ceremony. Ypres firemen blow the Last Post every single night in remembrance of the fallen. This is something everyone should do at least once in his or her life…

Tyne Cot Cemetery Passchendaele
Tyne Cot Cemetery Passchendaele

     3/ Go to Tyne Cot (Passendale), the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. The more than 12.000 graves really make you consider the sacrifices made. On the way back to Ypres, you will pass along the Memorial Museum Passchendaele in Zonnebeke.

Saint Martin's Cathedral - Sint-Maartenskathedraal
Saint Martin’s Cathedral – Sint-Maartenskathedraal

     4/ Pay a visit to the Saint Martin’s Cathedral. The Cathedral has the same height as the Atomium in Brussels (335 feet or 102 metres). It may thus be included in the list of tallest buildings of Belgium. (visit: free of charge)

The ramparts route - vestingroute
The ramparts route – vestingroute

     5/ Do the ramparts route. The Vauban ramparts are the best preserved of Belgium.

Heuvelland
Heuvelland

    6/ Go for a walk in Heuvelland. The typical hilly area is a natural habitat for plants and animals. Millions of years ago these hills were actually sandbanks. Belgium is mainly known for its beer but the hilly countryside is ideal for wine growing. (Wine estate Entre-Deux-Monts and Monteberg)

The London Battle Bus
The London Battle Bus

I have had the great pleasure to see the original London Battle Bus in Zonnebeke. About a thousand of these busses served in France and Belgium as a troop carrier in the First World War. To commemorate the role of transport workers in the war, the London Transport Museum brings the Battle Bus outside. Follow the bus on Twitter #ltmbattlebus

Would you like to buy a box of chocolates? Contrary to life at Chocolatier Vandaele you know what you’re gonna get…The real homemade stuff. Located on the Market Square.

Looking for a place to stay? There is Main Street, a small pearl in the city centre of Ypres but if you prefer a room with a splendid view then I would say Hostellerie Kemmelberg.

Where to eat? Découverte also in the city centre of Ypres, a real gastronomic treat…

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