They’re Proud & Honoured to be the bearers
Visiting the city of Ypres in Belgium is such a touching experience and incredibly moving at times. This was to be our third visit to Ypres. Previously we hadn’t been able to give the city the dedication it deserved, the depths and layers of history that flows through Ypres’s cobbled lanes is overwhelming.
We love digging into the history of any destination we visit; however, with the city of Ypres and its heart-rending landscape, its past is coursing everywhere. Mindful that the WWI centenary falls in 2018, we wanted to discover how Ypres carries such a significant mantle for the rest of the world.
And oh, boy they do it well.
In Flanders fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Where is Ypres?
How to get to Ypres
- By Car
If you’re venturing from the UK, jump on Le Shuttle and tour Belgium under your own steam.
Alternatively, it’s so easy to visit on a road trip. Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.
Ypres, was not to be beatenLike a phoenix from the ashes
Unbelievably the Market Square in Ypres along with its surrounding landscape was completely destroyed during the World War I. However, when you visit the beautiful city of Ypres today and admire the thoughtful restoration, particularly the Cloth Hall, you wouldn’t imagine it.
The care and attention to detail in rebuilding its magnificent architecture is a credit to city of Ypres.
Exploring Ypres Cloth HallThe rebuilding of a medieval marvel
All around Ypres’s historical Market Square are striking gabled homes peering down onto the bustling streets below. The beautiful eye-catching Ypres Cloth Hall which was so meticulously restored back to its Medieval style, stands grand and a tribute to its pre-war days.
Within Ypres’s majestic Cloth Hall now resides the poignant ‘In Flanders Fields Museum’. Historically the ancient 13th-century Cloth Hall would have been used as a market and warehouse, for Ypres’s thriving cloth industry.
Where we stayed in Ypres
Visiting ‘In Flanders Fields Museum’Remembering the First World War
During our trip to Ypres, we especially wanted to visit the poignant ‘In Flanders Fields Museum’, commemorating the unimaginable events which took place during the First World War.
We had heard that the exhibition was incredibly touching and in a small way conveyed some of the atrocities that these heroes went through.
We purchased our tickets for the Ypres Museum and set off on an unknown journey to try and comprehend what lie ahead.
In addition to our entrance fee, we also bought a pass to climb the 231 steps to the top of the Belfry.
So, furnished with our individual ‘poppy bracelets’ we were ready to explore.
The wristbands are such a great idea, the red poppy contains a microchip, and once you have waved the bracelet over the Wi-Fi symbol, you have the option to key in a few of your demographics.
Entering in your basic data allows you access to personal stories around the In Flanders Fields Museum of four individuals who lived through WWI and gives you even more of an immersive experience.
A most meaningful museum in YpresIt opens your eyes
Important we never forgetA fellow comrade
One story in the Ypres museum that particularly caught my eye was that of Louis de Mahieu. Louis was a volunteer from Antwerp and died of his wounds on the WWI battlefield at Warwick Farm, on 31st August 1918.
To his fellow soldiers, Louis was unknown to them at the time, his comrades made a cross out of a wooden chair as a provisional resting place.
Louis de Mahieu’s body was not found until almost a year later in July 1919.
Climbing the Cloth Hall BelfryMagnificent views across Ypres
The World War I battlefields todayThe search will always go on
If you’re heading off on a Belgium adventure, then grab a copy of this DK Eyewitness book. I love planning road trips and these guides are so helpful.
I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of the back roads.
Visiting the Menin Gate MemorialRemembering Ypres Salient
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)We owe them so much
We owe a huge amount to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) as they lovingly maintain over 23,000 war memorials and cemeteries around the world.
Along with the Menin Gate, we also visited Ypres Reservoir Cemetery which has 2,613 Commonwealth servicemen of which 1,034 of the burials are unidentified.
Explore Ypres yourself
The ‘Last Post’ servicePerformed every evening in Ypres
Never the same
All around existing servicemen and veterans are wearing their proud uniforms lined with their thoroughly deserving medals. As our little tribute, we donned our Passchendaele poppy pins that we purchased in 2017.
With each Passchendaele poppy pin there is a tribute to a fallen serviceman, which led us to discovery their story further within the memorials of Tyne Cot & Passchendaele.
* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.