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Ieper (Dutch) (Ypres (French))
Municipal flag
Flag
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
Location of Ieper in West Flanders
Location of Ieper in West Flanders
Ypres is located in Belgium
Ypres
Location in Belgium
Sovereign state Belgium Belgium
Region  Flemish Region
Community Flanders Flemish Community
Province  West Flanders
Arrondissement Ieper
Coordinates 50°51′0″N 02°53′0″E / 50.85°N 2.883333°E / 50.85; 2.883333Coordinates: 50°51′0″N 02°53′0″E / 50.85°N 2.883333°E / 50.85; 2.883333
Area 130.61 km²
Population
– Males
– Females
Density
34,897 (2006-01-01)
48.86%
51.14%
267 inhab./km²
Age distribution
0–19 years
20–64 years
65+ years
(1 January 2006)
22.52%
58.08%
19.40%
Foreigners 1.89% (1 July 2005)
Unemployment rate 8.01% (1 January 2006)
Mean annual income €11,833/pers. (2003)
Mayor Luc Dehaene (CD&V)
Governing parties CD&V
Postal codes 8900, 8902, 8904, 8906, 8908
Area codes 057
Website www.ieper.be

Ypres (French pronunciation: [ipʁ], English: /ˈiːprə/; Dutch: Ieper, pronounced [ˈipər]) is a Belgian municipality located in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Ieper and the villages of Boezinge, Brielen, Dikkebus, Elverdinge, Hollebeke, Sint-Jan, Vlamertinge, Voormezele, Zillebeke, and Zuidschote. Together, they count some 34,900 inhabitants.

During World War I, Ieper was the centre of intense and sustained battles between the German and the Allied forces. During the war, Tommies nicknamed the city "Wipers."

Contents

History

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Origins to World War I

Ieper on the Ferraris map (around 1775)

Ieper is an ancient town, known to have been raided by the Romans in the first century BC.[1]

During the Middle Ages, Ieper was a prosperous city with a population of 40,000, [2] renowned for its linen trade with England, which was mentioned in the Canterbury Tales. As the 3rd largest city (After Gent and Bruges) Ypres played an important role in the County of Flanders. Textiles from Ypres could be found on the markets of Novgorod in Russia in the early 12th century. In 1241 there was a major fire that ruined much of the old city. The powerful city was involved in important treaties and battles, such as:

Battle of the Golden Spurs

The Slag bij Pevelenberg

The Vrede van Melun

The Slag bij Kassel

Ieper was fortified to keep out invaders. Parts of the early ramparts, dating from 1385, still survive near the Rijselpoort (Lille Gate).

On March 25th 1678 Ypres was conquered by the forces of Louis XIV. In 1697 during the Vrede van Rijswijk it came into the possessions of the Spanish Crown. In 1713 it was handed over to Habsburg. In 1782 the Austrian emperor Joseph II decided to tear down parts of the walls, making it easy for the French to take over the city during the first coalition war in 1794.

It was the hometown of William of Ypres, a commander of Flemish mercenaries in England who was reckoned among the more able of the military commanders fighting for King Stephen in his 19 year civil war with the Empress Matilda.

The famous Cloth Hall was built in the thirteenth century. Also during this time cats, then the symbol of the devil and witchcraft, were thrown off Cloth Hall, possibly due to the belief that this would get rid of evil demons. Today, this act is commemorated with a triennial Cat Parade through town.

Over time, the earthworks were replaced by sturdier masonry and earthen structures and a partial moat. Ieper was further fortified in 17th and 18th centuries while under the occupation of the Habsburgs and the French. Major works were completed at the end of the 17th century by the French military engineer Sebastien Le Prestre, Seigneur de Vauban.

World War I

Ieper On Fire

Ieper occupied a strategic position during World War I because it stood in the path of Germany's planned sweep across the rest of Belgium and into France from the north (the Schlieffen Plan). The neutrality of Belgium was guaranteed by Britain; Germany's invasion of Belgium brought the British Empire into the war. The German army surrounded the city on three sides, bombarding it throughout much of the war. To counterattack, British, French and allied forces made costly advances from the Ypres Salient into the German lines on the surrounding hills.

In the First Battle of Ypres (31 October to 22 November 1914) the Allies captured the town from the Germans. In the Second Battle of Ypres (22 April to 25 May 1915) the Germans used poison gas for the first time on the Western Front (they had used it earlier at the Battle of Bolimov on 3 January 1915) and captured high ground east of the town. The first gas attack occurred against Canadian, British, and French soldiers; including both metropolitan French soldiers as well as Senegalese and Algerian tirailleurs (light infantry) from French Africa. The gas used was chlorine gas. Mustard gas, also called Yperite from the name of this city, was also used for the first time near Ieper in the autumn of 1917.

Ruins of Ieper – 1919

Of the battles, the largest, best-known, and most costly in human suffering was the Third Battle of Ypres (21 July to 6 November 1917, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele) in which the British, Canadians, ANZAC and French forces recaptured the Passchendaele ridge east of the city at a terrible cost of lives. After months of fighting, this battle resulted in nearly half a million casualties to all sides, and only several miles of ground won by Allied forces. The town was all but obliterated by the artillery fire.

English-speaking soldiers in that war often referred to Ieper/Ypres by the deliberate misreading Wipers. British soldiers even self-published a wartime newspaper called the "Wipers Times".

Ieper today

After the war the town was rebuilt using money paid by Germany in reparations, with the main square, including the Cloth Hall and town hall, being rebuilt as close to the original designs as possible. (The rest of the rebuilt town is more modern in appearance.) The Cloth Hall today is home to In Flanders Fields Museum, dedicated to Ieper's role in the First World War.

Today, Ieper is a small city in the very westhern part of Belgium, the so-called Westhoek. Ieper these days has the title of "city of peace" and maintains a close friendship with another town on which war had a profound impact: Hiroshima. Both towns witnessed warfare at its worst: Ieper was one of the first places where chemical warfare was employed, while Hiroshima suffered the debut of nuclear warfare. The city governments of Ieper and Hiroshima advocate for cities never to be targets again and campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The City of Ieper hosts the international campaign secretariat of Mayors for Peace, an international Mayoral organization mobilizing cities and citizens worldwide to abolish and eliminate nuclear weapons by the year 2020. Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision Campaign

Sights

Town centre

Cloth Hall at night
The fountain in the Grote Markt, Ieper, opposite the Cloth Hall

The imposing Cloth Hall was built in the 13th century and was one of the largest commercial buildings of the Middle Ages. The structure which stands today is the exact copy of the original medieval building, rebuilt after the war. The belfry that surmounts the hall houses a 49-bell carillon. The whole complex was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.

The Gothic-style Saint Martin's church, originally built in 1221, was also completely reconstructed after the war, but now with a higher spire. It houses the tombs of Jansenius, bishop of Ypres and father of the religious movement known as Jansenism, and of Robert of Bethune, nicknamed "The Lion of Flanders", who was Count of Nevers (1273-1322) and Count of Flanders (1305–1322).

Saint Martin's Church

Menin Gate

The Menin Gate Memorial2 in Ieper commemorates those soldiers of the British Commonwealth - with the exception of Newfoundland - who fell in the Ypres Salient during the First World War before 16 August 1917, who have no known grave. Those who died from that date - and all from New Zealand and Newfoundland - are commemorated elsewhere.[3][4] The memorial's location is especially poignant as it lies on the eastward route from the town which allied soldiers would have taken towards the fighting - many never to return. Every evening since 1928, at precisely eight o'clock, traffic around the imposing arches of the Menin Gate Memorial has been stopped while the Last Post is sounded beneath the Gate by the local fire brigade. This tribute is given in honour of the memory of British Empire soldiers who fought and died there. The Menin Gate in Ieper only records the soldiers for whom there is no known grave, As graves are discovered, the names are removed from the Menin Gate.

The ceremony at the Menin Gate

The ceremony was prohibited by occupying German forces during the Second World War, but it was resumed on the very evening of liberation — 6 September 1944 — notwithstanding the heavy fighting that still went on in other parts of the town. The lions that marked the original gate were given to Australia by the people of Belgium and can be found at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

"Who will remember, passing through this Gate,
The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?"
-- Siegfried Sassoon, On Passing the Menin Gate
Necropole national gravestones

War graves, both of the Allied side and the Central Powers, cover the landscape around Ieper. The largest are Langemark German war cemetery and Tyne Cot Commonwealth war cemetery. The countryside around Ieper(Flanders Fields) is featured in the famous poem by John McCrae, In Flanders Fields.

Saint George's Memorial Church

Saint George's Memorial Church commemorates the British and Commonwealth soldiers, who died in the five battles fought for Ieper during World War I.

Events

Kattenstoet
  • The Cat Parade ("Kattenstoet") 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 latest Cat Parade took place on May 10, 2009.
  • Ieper is also the home of the Belgium Ypres Westhoek Rally since its creation in 1965. It is organized by the Auto Club Targa Florio. Some of the drivers to have taken part are among the best-known names in rallying, such as Juha Kankkunen, Bruno Thiry, Henri Toivonen, Colin McRae, Jimmy McRae, Marc Duez, François Duval, and Freddy Loix among others.
  • Ieper holds an annual canoe polo tournament in which teams come from all over Europe to play

Famous inhabitants

Twin cities

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Ieper: historical background
  2. ^ See chapter 5.6.2 (in Dutch)
  3. ^ [1] "It commemorates those of all Commonwealth nations (except New Zealand) who died in the Salient, in the case of United Kingdom casualties before 16 August 1917. Those United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war. Other New Zealand casualties are commemorated on memorials at Buttes New British Cemetery and Messines Ridge British Cemetery."
  4. ^ http://www.cwgc.org/admin/files/cwgc_ypressalient.pdf

Footnote

2 The gate is called "Menin Gate" because it is situated on the road to another Flemish city, Menin in French or a (deprecated) variant name in English, Menen in Dutch or English.

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Ypres town centre. View across the crowded marketplace to the rebuilt Cloth Hall, location of the In Flanders Field Museum.
Ypres town centre. View across the crowded marketplace to the rebuilt Cloth Hall, location of the In Flanders Field Museum.

Ypres (Flemish: Ieper, both pronounced "eeper") [1] is a friendly Belgian Flanders town endowed with wonderful architecture and a troubled past. Ypres is best known as the site of three major battles of the First World War, the most famous being the Battle of Passchendaele from July—November 1916. The many memorials and cemeteries of the fallen in and around Ypres draw thousands of visitors each year. Population 36,000 (2005).

Understand

Town Name and Languages

The official Flemish name for the city is Ieper - this is the version of the name you will see most commonly in and around the predominately Flemish-speaking town. Most native English speakers, however, will know the town by its French name Ypres, as popularised in media and history texts during and immediately after the First World War.

History

The town of Ypres formed the centre of the so-called "Ypres Salient" during most of the First World War—an area of Allied (British and Belgian)-held land surrounded on three sides by the German front line that formed the northernmost section of the Western Front. Holding Ypres was vital for the Allies in their bid to prevent the Germans gaining control of all the Channel ports, vital for the transport and supply of the British Expeditionary Force. As a result, the city became the focus of several major battles to break in / out of the Salient and was subjected to fairly continuous bombardment by German artillery for most of the war. By 1918, little remained of the town but shattered ruins surrounded by muddy shell-pocked fields.

After the First World War, most of central Ypres was rebuilt with German reparations (war debt) money. This was a lengthy process: the famous Cloth Hall was not completed until the 1960s.

Get 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

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

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

See

The attractions of Ypres are divided between the town center itself and several villages in the surrounding countryside - most of the battlefields and cemeteries are located in the latter. For these, a car, bike or an arranged tour would be best.

  • Menin Gate Memorial [2] - dedicated on 24 July 1927 as a memorial to the missing British and Commonwealth soldiers who fell in Belgium during World War One. Has a Last Post Ceremony each night at 8:00 PM as a way for the Ypres citizens to express their gratitude towards those who died for Belgium's freedom.
    • This memorial contains, both inside and out, huge panels into which are carved the names of the 54,896 officers and men of the British Empire forces who died in the Ypres Salient area and who have no known graves. The names recorded on the gate's panels are those of men who died in the area between the outbreak of the war in 1914 and 15th August, 1917. The names of a further 34,984 of the missing - those who died between 16th August, 1917 and the end of the war, are recorded on carved panels at Tyne Cot Cemetery, on the slopes just below Passchendaele.
  • Cloth Hall - originally built around 1200 as a center of Flemish wealth, completely destroyed by German artillery shelling in 1916, the Cloth Hall was rebuilt, the project completing in 1962 and the symbol of a resurgent city. Contains the In Flanders Fields Museum (see below).
  • In Flanders Fields Museum [3]. Located in the Ypres Cloth Hall, right in the center. This museum gives an excellent overview of WWI. It is more like an experience that takes you right into the daily life during the war. Can be a quite strong experience that will have a profound impact on you. Open daily April - September 10AM-6PM, open Tue-Sun October - March 10AM-5PM, last entry 1 hr before closing, admission adults €8, children 7-25 yrs €1, under 7 free.
  • Ramparts Museum, [4]
  • Kattenstoet, [5]. A parade in Ypres devoted to the cat. It is held every third year on the second Sunday of May. Most recently, the 42nd edition took place on May 10, 2009. This "Festival of the Cats" commemorates an Ypres tradition from the Middle Ages in which cats were thrown from the belfry tower of the Cloth Hall to the town square below. Symbolically reviving this practice for the parade festivities, a jester tosses stuffed toy cats from the Cloth Hall belfry down to the crowd, which awaits with outstretched arms to catch one. The throwing of the cats from the belfry is followed by a mock witch burning.
  • Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, [6]. Museum in a beautiful setting, telling the story of the Great War in chronological order. Lots of information on the different battles and a large selection of authentic artifacts on display. The big bonus of the museum in a reconstructed dug-out which lets you to experience what life under Flanders Fields must have been at the time. Open daily (February till end November) from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m. Admission : €5, groups €3.
  • Tyne Cot Commonwealth Cemetery - The largest Commonwealth Wargraves Commission cemetery in the world, situated to the south of the village of Passendale. There are also many more smaller Commonwealth cemeteries dotted around the region as well. Location: 50° 53′ 13.39″ N, 2° 59′ 52.54″ E
  • Vladso German Cemetery - One of the most important German cemetery from the First World War lies in the village of Vladslo, north of Ypres and close to the city of Diksmuide. In one of the few oak-tree woods in the area lie hundreds of square black stones with the names of the buried soldiers. The peace treaty of Versailles denied the losers of the war the use of white stone. The stones lie in rigid lines in the grass under the trees. No flowers decorate the burial grounds. Includes a statue by Käthe Kollwitz called The Grieving Parents. Location: 51° 3′ 0″ N, 2° 55′ 0″ E.
  • Langemark German Cemetery - The cemetery, which evolved from a small group of graves from 1915, has seen numerous changes and extensions. It was dedicated in 1932. Today, visitors find a mass grave near the entrance. This comrades' grave contains 24,917 servicemen, including the Ace Werner Voss. Between the oak trees, next to this mass grave, are another 10,143 soldiers (including 2 British soldiers killed in 1918). The 3,000 school students who were killed during the First Battle of Ypres are buried in a third part of the cemetery. At the rear of the cemetery is a sculpture of four mourning figures by Professor Emil Krieger. The group was added in 1956, and is said to stand guard over the fallen. The cemetery is maintained by the German War Graves Commission, the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge. Location: 50° 55′ 14″ N, 2° 55′ 0″ E
  • Wonderful countryside with many routes for walking and cycling.
  • Lovely shops and cafes selling Belgian chocolates and beer.
  • Things from the WW I period in dedicated shops, located for example near the Menin Gate.

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.

  • Trattoria Alloro, patersstraat 2 (150 metres from the Grote Markt direction the train station), 057467998, [7]. Friday & Saturday evening, Sunday lunchtime. A very pretty family run Italian restaurant situated about 150 meters from the Grote Markt. Well reviewed in various magazines and web-sites. All fresh food is locally sourced and prepared individually. The pastas and condiments are of the top Italian quality and already the restaurant is booked most weekends. +/- €40 for 3 courses.  edit
  • Varlet Farm, [8]. Bed and breakfast, on the old 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.
  • Cherry Blossom B&B, [9]. Find your home from home on the Ypres Salient at this lovely friendly, English family run B&B at Brandhoek. (Noel Chavasse- Double VC is buried locally), Short distance from Ypres and Poperinge. 40 mins drive from Brugge/Ghent. Motorcyclists and Children are welcome. Good home cooking. Battlefield Tours arranged with local tour guides, can be tailored to suit your needs. Motorcycle tours also arranged. Garden and Bar Area. Evening Meals and Packed Lunches by arrangement. Tea and Coffee making facilities/TV in all rooms. Small collection of artifacts to view.
  • Vrienden op de Fiets, is an organisation supplying addresses of private houses where you can stay for the night. Membership is required and is only available if you are cycling or walking through Belgium, [10].

Stay safe

Ypres is generally very safe.

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Wikipedia

Proper noun

Singular
Ypres

Plural
-

Ypres

  1. A municipality in Flanders, Belgium

Translations

  • Dutch: Ieper
  • German: Ypern

Derived terms

  • Ypresian

Anagrams


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