Great Escapes

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The Great War remembered in Ypres

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With 2014 marking the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, known at that time as the Great War, the cities of Flanders, including Ypres, are hosting events and exhibitions to commemorate the occasion. Through such events visitors can both pay their respects and learn more about this significant period of our history.

Ypres, Belgium

Ieper : Stad Ieper Grote Markt met terrasjesFoto TIJL CAPOEN Ypres, is a pretty town in northern Belgium. It is medieval in origin but it was greatly scarred by WW1 when most of the town was completely destroyed. Luckily, detailed plans and drawings of the most significant buildings were preserved and some 70 years ago the town, including the famous Cloth Halls, was re-built to the exact designs of the originals. The now weathered replicas look remarkably authentic and I’m sure visitors, who don’t know this story, would never guess that the stunning architecture found throughout the town is anything but original.

In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres

In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres

In Flanders Fields Museum, The Cloth Halls, Ypres (courtesy of VisitFlanders © milo-profi photography)

In Flanders Fields Museum is situated in Ypres’ main square in the renovated Cloth Halls.  People from five continents and more than fifty different countries and cultures took part in the war in Flanders. The museums’ permanent exhibition focuses on the personal stories of such ordinary people and  a narrative from the invasion of Belgium until the end of the war. Hundreds of authentic objects and images are presented in an innovative experience-orientated way. Lifelike characters and interactive installations confront visitors with their peers in the war, a century ago. In the research centre visitors can look deeper into the history of the world at this time through personal stories and local history, as well as the big, global background story. If you climb the bell tower of the Cloths Halls, you’ll see an incredible view over the city and the surrounding battlefields.

The Menin Gate (courtesy of Ypres Tourist Board)

And every evening at 8pm the Last Post is played under  The Menin Gate Memorial to remember the fallen soldiers – a deeply moving ceremony.

The Last Post, Menin Gate, Ypres

The Last Post (courtesy of VisitFlanders © milo-profi photography)

Temporary Exhibitions at the In Flanders Museum

War and Trauma – medical care in  WWI, 01.11.2013 – 30.06.2014 Fairplay? Sport and the First World War, 14.06.2014 – 14.10.2014 The Launch of the List of Names, 04.08.2014 The Battle of the Ijzer and The First Battle of Ypres, 04.10.2014 – 04.01.2015 The Best Christmas Present in the World, 22.12.2014 A verbal and musical recital by Michael Morpurgo. This celebrated British actor, accompanied by actress Virginia McKenna, tells a story about the Christmas Truce of 1914. With Christmas carols by Voices at the Door. Further details and events can be found on the In Flanders Museum website.

The Light Front and the List of Names

On 17th October this year, 8,750 torch bearers will make a 54 mile human chain, made up of locals and visitors, from Nieuwport on the coast to Plugstreet near the Frenc border. At the same time, a list of names of the victims of the war will be projected onto three symbolic towers: the Belfry in Ypres, the Yser Tower in Diksmuide and te King Albert Memorial in Nieuwport. For more information visit  Gone West.

Flanders Peace Field – Christmas Truce Event

In collaboration with the English Premier League and various national football associations, a football competition will be held from 19th December, ending in a ceremony on 21st a ceremony in commemoration of the Christmas truces, in the presence of legendary international football figures. For more information visit  Flanders Fields.   Follow my blog with Bloglovin For short breaks to Ypres and other Flemish cities from the UK, please visit Great Escapes.

Author: Kathryn Burrington

Travel writer, photographer and blogger for the Serenity Holidays group, including the short break experts, Great Escapes.

4 thoughts on “The Great War remembered in Ypres

  1. My grandfather was gassed at Ypres- and survived. Not many of his regiment- The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders- did. Always wanted to go there.

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