Ypres

Travel Guide Europe Belgium West Flanders Ypres

Countryside as a backdrop for the Small WWI Gravesite just outside Ypres

Countryside as a backdrop for the Small WWI Gravesite just outside Ypres

© GregW

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Introduction

Ypres (in Dutch: Ieper) is a town that already excisted in Roman times, and was raided by the Roman in the first century B.C. During the Middle Ages it was a big city, with around 40,000 inhabitants. The town was a strategic point in World War I, as it stood in the way of the Germans to invade France from the north, and as a gateway to the North Sea. The trenchwar that took place here, can be devided in 4 big battles in which thousands of soldiers on both sides lost their lives. So many granates were fired here, that almost 100 years later granates are still being found by farmers while ploughing their country.

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Sights and Activities

Menin Gate

The Menin Gate is a monument for all the soldiers of the British Commonwealth, apart from the soldiers from Newfoundland, who died in or around Ypres before 16 August 1917, who have no known grave. Those who died after that date (and all from New Zealand and Newfoundland) are commemorated elsewhere. Every day at 20.00 the last post is played at the Menin Gate, while traffic is stopped. The ceremony is held since 1928, and was only interrupted during World War II, when it was forbidden by the nazi's.

Saint George's Memorial Church

The Saint George's Memorial Church was built to commemorate over 500,000 British and Commonwealth troops, who had died in battles during World War I. The foundation stone was laid by Field Marshal Lord Plumer on July 24, 1927. The church was consecrated by the Bishop of Fulham on March 24, 1929.

War Graves

Many War Graves can be found in and around Ypres. The largest cementeries are Langemark German war cemetery and Tyne Cot Commonwealth war cemetery.

Lakenhal

Ypres Cloth Hall

Ypres Cloth Hall

© jennrob

The Lakenhal (Cloth Hall) dates back to the 13th century and was one of the largest commercial buildings of the Middle Ages. The building you see today is a copy of the original building. After the war the structure was damaged so badly that rebuilding was the only option. The belfry that surmounts the hall houses a 49-bell carillon. The whole complex was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999. In the Cloth Hall today you will find the In Flanders Fields Museum, which is dedicated to the history of Ypres during World War I.

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Events and Festivals

Kattenstoet

The Kattenstoet (Cat Parade) takes place every three years on the second Sunday of May. It involves the throwing of toy cats from the belfry and a colourful parade of cats and witches. The next parade will take place in 2012.

Ypres Rally

The Belgium Ypres Westhoek Rally takes place in and around Ypres since 1965. Some of the best-known names in rallying have taken part in the past Among others: Juha Kankkunen, Bruno Thiry, Henri Toivonen, Colin McRae and François Duval.

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Getting There

By Plane

Ostend-Bruges International Airport is about 25 kilometres from Bruges, located near the coastal city of Ostend, but serves mainly as an airport for charter and package holiday flights to southern Europe. Destinations include Antalya, Bodrum, Izmir, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Alicante, Corfu, Djerba, Crete, Kos, Palma de Mallorca, Rhodes, Tenerife, and Monastir (Tunisia).

By Train

Ypres has its own train station. From there, you can easily walk to the city center. But the station itself is poorly served, causing slow connections to most other towns a bit further away.

By Car

Ypres itself is easily reachable by car - highway to Kortrijk, then follow directions for Ieper (A19).

From the ports of Calais or Dunkirk, take the A16 East, turning off at junction 28 (A25 towards Lille). Get off at Junction 13 and follow the signs for Ypres (Ieper).

Ypres isn't big, so it's perfectly traversable by car. You can park at the main square, in front of the cloth hall for a small fee (except during the weekly or other market), or freely near to the train station. A car also allows you to visit places further on such as the various cemeteries.

By Bus

Ypres has bus lines towards neighbouring towns.

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Getting Around

Ypres city centre is best approached on foot.

For visiting the war graves and memorials, one could use a car or cycle. Take the guided "Battle field tour" - bus, or buy an audio tour on the internet - same sites, but a lot cheaper if you have your own transport

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Eat

The marketplace has several restaurants, pubs and places to sit outside during the summer. Tuesdays usually host music night outside, organised by "'t Klein Stadhuis" right next to the cloth halls and the city hall.

  • Frituur De Leet, Vandenpeereboomplein 43, ☎ +32 57 21 25 55. Tu-Su 11:30-14:30 and 17:30-23:00, M closed. Belgian fries and other fastfood.

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Sleep

The region around Ypres has many small B&Bs, and in the city centre, there are also multiple hotels.

  • Ambrosia Hotel Ieper (Ambrosia b&b Ypres), D'Hondtstraat 54, ☎ +32 476 467-016. This small hotel (10 rooms) was recently renovated. Cooked and/or continental breakfast and free internet.
  • Cherry Blossom B&B (between Ypres and Poperinge). English family run B&B. Motorcyclists and children are welcome. Evening meals and packed lunches by arrangement. Tea and coffee making facilities/TV in all rooms. Small collection of artifacts to view.
  • B&B Fresco, Kunstenlaan 38 (10 min walking distance up from the station), ☎ +32 57 200137. Check-in: flexible, check-out: flexible. English, French, German, and Flemish spoken. The hosts are very friendly. Wifi, terrace, privatised floor with fridge, big comfortable rooms, nice bathroom with bath foams, hearty breakfast (default breakfast with meat, vegetarian on demand including a platter of speciality cheese). Doubles €50.
  • Varlet Farm. Bed and breakfast, on the former Passchendaele battlefield, named by British soldiers of the Great War. It was taken by the Royal Naval Division on October 1917. Close to all major memorials. Maps, guidebook, and tour guide available. 7 rooms. Small groups up to 18 people. Private collection on the farm showing artifacts dug up in the fields.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet is widely available in Belgium, but internet cafés are not common, because most people have internet access at home or through wifi. There are multiple internet access points in all cities and it is free in most libraries. Also in multiple gas stations, train stations and diners on the highways there is Wi-Fi available. Many cafés offer free Wi-Fi nowadays and if you can't find any you can always fall back on Quick or McDonalds which both offer free Wi-Fi.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Belgium is: + 32. To make an international call from Belgium, the code is 00.

Belgium has a modern telephone system with nationwide cellular telephone coverage. Belgium uses the GSM standard of cellular phones (900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands) used in most of the world outside of the U.S. There are three main companies (Proximus, Mobistar and Base, and a large number of MVNOs) offering wireless service. The country is almost totally covered. If you stay for some time, it may be advisable to buy a pre-paid cell phone card that you can use in any phone that supports the GSM standard on the 900/1800 MHz bands. Then incoming calls and SMSes are free. You can get sim cards for the three main companies in dedicated phone shops. Sim cards from the MVNOs are readily available at supermarkets (Carrefour, Aldi, Colruyt to name a few all have their own brand). All networks provide UMTS and HSDPA (3G) mobile internet coverage, and are rolling out a 4G network, mainly in the big cities and eventually in the whole country.

Post

De Post is the national postal service of Belgium, with Dutch, French and German versions. They offer generally fast, reliable services. It's a relatively expensive service though, with normal domestic post (cards, letters etc) up to 50 grams costing €0.61. To other European countries it costs €1.03 and outside Europe it's €1.34. At the post offices, you can buy stamps and they have other services as well, including international money transfers. The opening times of post offices are 9:00am or 10:00am until 4:00pm or 5:00pm, depending on whether it's the main central one or a smaller branch or in towns. Some of them might be open on Saturday mornings, and remember that quite a few still close for lunch break! De Post also offers the sending of parcels, but you could also use private international companies like UPS, TNT or DHL, as they offer roughly the same services and prices, but are generally faster.

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Accommodation in Ypres

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Ypres searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

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This is version 16. Last edited at 9:26 on Apr 3, 19 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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