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Ypres (Ieper) Travel Guide

Ypres Travel Guide - Menin Gate

The history of World War I dominates this region, and rightly so given all that happened in this town and the surrounding area.

A permanent reminder as you travel around are the seemingly endless small cemeteries dotted around the landscape, there is rarely a road you drive down without seeing one of the signs pointing out a location.

Getting Around

As you will likely be wanting to explore the area surrounding the town of Ypres, looking at car hire options may be beneficial - we cover this here. Alternatives would be to join one of the many tours in operation, where you will be able to visit the sights below, just not at your own leisure.

World War I Battlefields

Tours are the best way to see and experience all of the key locations in the region. Full-day tours are offered, providing the most in-depth experience. Monuments commemorate the lives lost, of the many fallen soldiers, and you will find many monuments representing different countries and the men they lost.

The countryside in this area of Belgium still bears the scars from the terrible battles that took place, and whilst the greenery has masked this, you cannot escape when passing through here, the imagery which you have no doubt seen through pictures, films, and museums.

Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing

Located a little to the north-east of Ypres itself, the Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the world. It is the resting place for over 11,900 servicemen from across the British Empire, lost during the First World War.

You can walk through the cemetery and take in the sheer scale of loss experienced in the area, which saw the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele.

Dates of death for the soldiers buried here range from October 1914 to September 1918. Of the total buried, 8,367 are unidentified British or Commonwealth soldiers, the headstones of which are inscribed with the words 'Known unto God'.

The Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing bears the names of over 34,000 British and New Zealand soldiers, whose remains are still in the Ypres Salient.

Ypres Travel Guide - Tyne Cot Cemetery
Langemark German Military Cemetery

A striking difference in the stones used, with the dark colour against the white of the Commonwealth cemeteries, ultimately there is no difference in the loss of life in either, and this cemetery really does highlight that.

In a simplistic setting, you can walk alongside the graves, around the perimeter of the cemetery. Over 44,000 German soldier remains are buried here, with one mass grave containing over 25,000 itself.

To the western boundary of the cemetery, you will find the Statue of the Mourning Soldiers. This statue, of four soldiers, is based on a 1918 photograph taken of soldiers mourning the grave of a comrade.

Ypres Travel Guide - Langemark German Military Cemetery
Menin Gate Memorial

Located on the east side of Ypres, the Menin Gate Memorial is situated on the road to Menin and Courtrai. The Memorial itself bears the names of 54,389 men whose graves are unknown, engraved into panels on the inner walls. Over 90,000 soldiers' remains have never been found, and there are four memorials located in Belgian Flanders to remember them by.

Last Post Ceremony

Each night at 8pm, the traffic at the Menin Gate Memorial is stopped while the local Fire Brigade sounds the Last Post, in the area beneath the arches. This has sounded every evening since 1928 (with the exception of the Second World War years, when Ypres was occupied by German forces). Be sure to experience this, as the dedication shown here by the men is inspiring, and shows a lasting respect to the memory of those lost here.

Market Square

Central to Ypres itself, the market square is the busy heart of the town, with a number of special events taking place throughout the year. Market day is a Saturday so be sure to check out the stalls and see what is being traded.

Ypres Travel Guide - Lone Tree Cemetery
In Flanders Fields Museum

Ensuring the memory lives on, now we have lost all who experienced first-hand the war and battles here, this museum allows for a look at the consequences of the Great War.

Hill 60

Named due to the location 60-metres above sea level, this memorial site saw a large amount of fighting during 1915, and then throughout the remainder of the war. It is the final resting place for a number of soldiers and contains several concrete bunkers and craters.

Pool of Peace

The Pool of Peace, located close to Heuvelland, is a now peaceful reminder of a battle in June 1917. Nineteen deep mines were detonated to mark the start of an offensive, under the German lines, between Ploegsteert and Hill 60. When the explosions occurred, they led to enormous craters being formed in the landscape. The Pool of Peace was the largest of these. You can park alongside the entrance and walk into the centre to observe just how peaceful this area now is, it is well cut-off from the outside world.

Ypres Travel Guide - Pool of Peace
Sanctuary Wood Cemetery

An original trench layout can be seen here, as it has been largely left intact, since the end of the war. It is one of the few places on the Ypres Salient battlefields, where the ground hasn't been reclaimed fully by farmers, where they were on the whole filled in.

Thomas Goddard

Thomas Goddard

Thomas is Expert with Points' travel writer, covering a variety of travel locations with handy guides on the must-see places on any trip.

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