The city of Ypres in Flanders, Belgium is just a 45 minute drive from Lille in northern France. Ypres was a flourishing place of commerce in the Middle Ages; the impressive Cloth Hall and St Martin’s Cathedral that preside over the town centre are evidence of this prosperous era.
Yet in WW1 the town was reduced to nothing but a pile of rubble. After the First World War the citizens of Ypres successfully rebuilt the city brick by brick to its former glory.
Today Ypres is a charming and vibrant city centred around a bustling cobblestone town square full of restaurants and cafes serving some of the region’s finest Flemish gastronomy and of course world renown Belgian beer. The city makes an ideal base for touring the WW1 remembrance trail with numerous accommodation facilities and day tours operating into the surrounding battlefield area of Flanders Fields.
Ypres is best known for the Menin Gate, the most famous Commonwealth War Memorial in Europe that bears the names of more than 54,000 soldiers missing in the Ypres salient in WW1. Each and every evening at 8pm, the Last Post is sounded under the Menin Gate in a moving ceremony.
Also in Ypres is the ‘In Flanders Fields Museum’, an innovative exhibition that uses state-of-the-art multimedia applications to immerse visitors into the stories and experiences of ordinary people at war.
A ten minute drive from Ypres is Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in the world, as well as Polygon Wood, the site of the annual Anzac Day dawn service held each year in Flanders.
In 2017, Ypres and Flanders Fields will commemorate 100 Years of the Battle of Passchendaele, including the Australian Commemoration Ceremony on 26 September 2017.
Whether planning a visit during 2017 or including a visit to Ypres and Flanders Fields in your future travel plans, Flanders extends a warm welcome to Australian visitors on the remembrance trail.