Ypres, this once a market town, is today known for the incredible events of WW1. Lying on a salient the area was fought over for 4 solid years between 1914 – 1918 by the Germans and the Allied forces. As a result the city is the scene of the moving Last Post ceremony which is performed each evening to remember those who gave their lives in the name of Freedom.
Ypres was originally founded as a market town in the Middle Ages. It prospered greatly, particularly in trade the linen with England, and many of its wonderful buildings were built with the proceeds. The Cloth Hall and Cathedral of St. Martin are fine examples that show the wealth the city once had as well as a population of 50,000 by 1400
With the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914 saw the allies and the Germans dig in along two fronts; a Western Front and the Eastern Front. Ypres laid directly on the Western Front and as a result saw constant conflict between 1914 through to the Armistice of 1918.
With the war finished the city was rebuilt and it was decided to build a memorial to all those who died in the 4 year long conflict. That monument is the Menin Gate and today a service known as the Last Post is performed to remember those who gave their lives for their country.
Unveiled on the 24th July 1927, the Menin Gate was rebuilt to remember to remember the tens of thousands of men who gave their lives in the Great War. Designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield the barrel-vaulted passage has become a mausoleum that honours the missing, who have no known graves. More than 54,000 names are inscribed on the gate and each evening a ceremony is performed when the “Last Post” is played.
Lakenhalle (the Cloth Hall)
During the Middle Ages the Ypres Cloth Hall was one of the largest market halls in Europe as it served as the headquarters for Ypres prosperous cloth industry. The structure was completed in 1304 but was heavily damaged during the fighting in the city during WW1. Between 1933 – 1967 the building was meticulously reconstructed back to its pre-war condition. Measuring 125m (410ft) in length, 70m (230ft) high the building is a great reminder of Ypres’s wealthy past.
St. Martins Cathedral
Although no longer a Cathedral the building is still referred to as such and is one of the tallest (102m/335ft) buildings in Belgium. The building was begun in 1230 as a parish church but after numerous additions it was made a cathedral in 1561, a title which it kept until 1801 when a church re-structuring saw the seat moved to Ghent.