The fact that the cat is central to the town of Ypres is clearly reflected in the ‘Cat Parade’ that parades there three times a year. From the Belfry on the Grote Markt, cats have been thrown down for centuries and are caught by the crowd. Where this used to be real cats, these are fortunately now plush variants. The nickname of the city of Ypres is therefore ‘cat city’. Although the city center of Ypres was largely destroyed by Germany several times during various Battles, the reconstruction has been completed successfully. Many of the old buildings that suffered during these wars have been reconstructed in their original condition. As a result, the city has managed to preserve its historic character. Both culture and relaxation are well represented in the city of Ypres. The many interesting sights such as the cozy restaurants, terraces and shops attract many visitors to this Belgian city in West Flanders every year.
Top 10 Things to Do in Ypres
#1. In Flanders Fields Museum
According to Homeagerly.com, this war museum is located in one of the most beautiful buildings in Ypres, namely in the Cloth Hall. The In Flanders Fields Museum has recently undergone a renovation and has increased its capacity by no less than 50%. The First World War in particular is central to the Flanders Field Museum. Through audiovisual stories, photos, objects and diaries you will learn a lot about this difficult time in history. An attempt has been made to shed light on the topics from different perspectives.
#2. Menin Gate
The Menin Gate is a huge gate and is a memorial to the missing British soldiers who fell during the First World War. All their more than fifty-four thousand names are written below and next to each other on the panels. It is bizarre to know that these unfound or unidentified soldiers are still scattered here and there under the sods of Ypres. Some in cemeteries but some also somewhere in the fields. Because someone is sometimes found during excavation work who can still be identified, a name is sometimes removed from the Menin Gate. Every evening at 8:00 pm a small ceremony is performed under this huge monument.
#3. Large market
Impressive buildings such as the Cloth Hall, the Belfry, the Courthouse and the Kasselrij can be found on the Grote Markt in Ypres . Together they form the center of the city. In contrast to other large markets of cities, there are not very many terraces here. However, there are several restaurants around where you can eat delicious and a number of cafes. Half of this is still intended for parking. Only on Saturdays, the entire market is the stage for the weekly market with various merchandise.
#4. Cloth Hall
Like a number of Flemish cities, Ypres also has a Cloth Hall. This Gothic-style building was originally built between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Unfortunately, it did not survive the terrible battles for Ypres. Despite this, they have managed to restore it very well. And since 1967, the building has once again radiated its grandeur. Where people used to trade mainly in sheets, it can now be visited as a museum. The museum ‘In Flanders Field’ is located in the building. The belfry tower with its seventy meters height regularly provides a beautiful serenade of the Ypres Garden Day song.
#5. Bellewaerde Park
The city of Ypres has succeeded in combining an amusement park with a zoo in a fun way. This can all be found in Bellewaerde Park. When the park opened its doors in 1954, there was not much more to be found than a collection of exotic birds and some gnome dolls in a park-like setting. A lot has changed over the years. Now today the rides with names like Hurican, El Toro, Boomerang and the River Splash whitewater course with loudly screaming passengers rush past you. There are also numerous attractions for the little ones that go a lot less quickly.
#6. St. Martin’s Church
The former cathedral of Ypres is located on Vandenpeerboomplein and Sint Maartenplein. Construction began around the year 1254 and was completed two centuries later. Around the year 1800, the cathedral was downgraded to a church. Here too, the various battles for Ypres and the First World War have left their mark. Fortunately, much of this has been restored and rebuilt. There are a number of impressive religious works of art to admire and a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Thuyne.
#7. Municipal Education Museum
Like so many cities today, a church in Ypres is also used for a different interpretation than religious. The Municipal Education Museum is now housed in the Sint-Niklaaskerk. The museum gives a clear picture of how education in Flanders has developed since the Middle Ages. You can even admire reconstructions of classrooms from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Especially for children it is funny to see which simple materials had to be worked with in the past.
#8. fish market
The nostalgic sales stalls for fish can be found at the Vismarkt. Both the stalls and the square are not large, but they are beautiful. A gateway to this old market has even been created on the adjacent Boterstraat, which dates back to 1714. It has been restored several times, but the statue of Neptune has always remained. The stalls were manufactured around 1923. The adjacent small toy-like toll booth from 1899 was the place to pay for the purchased fish.
#9. Municipal Museum
The Stedelijk Museum can be found on Janseniusstraat in Ypres. A walk past various paintings, archaeological finds, maps, furniture and silverware will give you a good idea of the glorious history of the city of Ypres. The splendor of the museum can be found in the collection of the Ypres artist Louise De Hem. The building in which the Stedelijk Museum is located is also worth mentioning. This St. Jansgodhuis was in fact around 1270 a place where a foundation was established for poor relief.
#10. Hill 60 or Hill 60
During the digging for the construction of the railway bed, a sixty meter high hill was created just outside Ypres near Zilbeke, which is today known as Heuvel 60.. Several battles during wars have been fought in the underground passages. During these battles many soldiers died who were killed by explosions. A number of these are still buried deep underground in the area of Hill 60. It is therefore also called a cemetery without gravestones. The bunker on the site was built by the Germans and later renovated by the English. The hill has been very popular during the war for a long time. After all, the wide area could be seen well from here. Over the years, many trees have grown on it.