Now more commonly known by the Flemish name of Ieper, this Belgium town used to be known as Ypres, in the First World War. Close to the French border, visitors nevertheless recognize both names, and Ypres/Ieper is a strange mix of the two cultures, rolled into one.
An ancient city, there’s a ton of villages that make up the municipality and plenty to do and see if you’re in the area. Check out our recommendations of 10 things to do in Ieper/Ypres!
1. Ypres Cloth Hall
The Cloth Hall is a huge, medieval commercial building that used to be one of the biggest during the Middle Ages, when it served as the main market and warehouse for the Flemish city’s prosperous cloth industry. After WWI, the original structure was completely ruined by artillery fire, but later on, it was meticulously reconstructed and restored to its prewar state.
Now, it serves as a reminder of Ypres’ importance and wealth in its glorious past and it houses the In Flanders Fields Museum.
Ypres Cloth Hall
Address: Grote Markt 34, 8900 Ieper, Belgium
Bellewaerde is a fun little theme park near Ypres. Constructed in 1954, the theme park was named after an old castle near the main entrance and was formerly a zoo and safari, expanding into a thrill park, catering to teens and families. Famed for its beautiful gardens and landscaping, it truly embodies the idea of a theme park, and has plenty of fun rides and choice zones to explore. It’s a must visit if you’re here with family and friends.
Address: Meenseweg 497, 8902 Ieper, Belgium
3. In Flanders Field Museum
The In Flanders’ Fields Museum is a museum in Ypres, located within the town’s Cloth Hall and dedicated to the study of the First World War. Named after the famous poem by Canadian poet John McCrae, the museum seeks not to glorify war but warn of its futility and contains plenty of historical exhibits that chart the suffering and way lives were affected by both soldiers and ordinary folk, during wartime.
In Flanders Field Museum
Address: Grote Markt 34, 8900 Ieper, Belgium
Website: In Flanders Field Museum
4. Menin Gate
Menin Gate is a memorial to the missing British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient, during World War I and whose graves are unknown. Located at the eastern exit of the town, it marks the starting point for one of the main roads out of the town that led Allied soldiers to the front line.
First unveiled on 24 July 1927, the gate is a relatively simple structure, that acts as a remembrance and a reminder of the high human cost of war.
Address: Menenstraat, 8900 Ieper, Belgium
5. Sint-Maartenskathedraal (Saint Martin's Cathedral)
St Martin’s Cathedral is a church and former cathedral where the former diocese of Ypres was sat, from 1561 to 1801 and it is one of the tallest buildings in Belgium. Completed in 1370, the church was badly damaged in WWI, but since then has been restored and contains a beautiful interior with a high ceiling, where one can easily contemplate the glory of God.
Sint-Maartenskathedraal (Saint Martin's Cathedral)
Address: 8900 Ypres, Belgium
6. Stedelijk Museum
A small but comprehensive gallery, housed in a three-story 1555 almshouse complex, these exhibitions comprise mostly 19th-century paintings and old photographs and are a marvel for you to ponder over what art used to be like.
Address: Ieperleestraat 31, 8900 Ieper, Belgium
Website: Stedelijk Museum
7. Brood & Banket Henk BVBA: The Henk Bakery
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
One of Ypres’ legendary bakeries, the Brood & Banket Henk BVBA will no doubt fulfill all your hunger needs if you visit for its fresh bread, pastries and fancy patisseries for a tasty breakfast, or even to take away for a midnight snack. Be sure to try the amazing and filling brood pudding (bread pudding) at just .40 EUR (.47 USD) for a sweet finish or start to any day!
Brood & Banket Henk BVBA: The Henk Bakery
Address: Sint-Jacobsstraat 2, 8900 Ieper, Belgium
8. Leonidas Chocolaterie
Widely considered to be one of the best chocolatiers in all of Belgium, you can’t come to Ieper without having a taste of Leonidas Chocolate, as they tantalize you with a smorgasbord of sweet tastes and incredible creations. This is good fun for all the family, especially if you’re traveling with kids, as you’ll no doubt put a smile on any tired face with the incredible healing power of a chunk of chocolate in their hands. Amazing stuff.
Address: Grote Markt 7, 8900 Ieper, Belgium
9. Hill 60
Hill 60 is a World War I battlefield memorial site and park in the south of Ypres. Formerly known as Côte des Amants (French for Lover’s Knoll), the site comprises two areas of raised land separated by a railway line and it became Hill 60 after many battles were waged upon it, during the war. Now, there is only peace and quiet as ghosts of the past haunt it in silence.
Address: Hill 60, Ypres, Belgium
War history and stunning architecture...
Ypres, or Ieper, has a fascinating history that can only be described as a rich blend of tumult, excitement and glory, and it’s plain to see when you step into this town. With plenty of good food, fascinating museums and a unique charm, this Belgian town will have you craving more, and without a doubt, endear you to its quirks and culture.
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