We would have never come to Ypres if it hadn’t been for our quest to find the inscription of the name of a fallen relative during WWI on the Menin Gate, but it was obvious as were walking towards this monument, that this is a fine and beautiful city, well worth a detour and it definitely deserves a place on a tourist schedule for anyone visiting Belgium. It is remarkable and almost unbelievable to think that this city was completely flattened during WWI, but the most important landmarks were rebuilt afterwards. It is certainly striking and awe-inspiring and we decided to spend an extra day to explore it a little bit further.
After our visit to the Menin Gate, we were very keen to find out more about the war and the battles fought in and around Ypres and we spent a couple of hours at the amazing Flanders Fields Museum, which offers a wealth of information about the subject with lots of exhibits and artefacts from WWI, as well as videos and recordings of real testimonies from soldiers, medical and other war personnel. This is a must when visiting Ypres.
We were lucky to find a wonderful motorhome aire where to stop for our 2-day stay at Zillebeke, just south of Ypres and only about 20 minutes walk from the city itself, right by a gorgeous lake, ideal for walking or running and I took my time walking Beano all the way round and stopping often to photograph the lovely area, bathed in the late afternoon in a most beautiful northern light.
We returned to the city centre for an early evening drink and to enjoy the Christmas lights, being late December, which added even more charm to this enchanting place.
One cannot come to Ypres without visiting Tyne Cot cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Cemetery in the world, the final resting place of almost 12,000 WWI servicemen, of whom more than 8,300 remain unidentified. We could only wonder whether W.H. Saysell was buried here, although there are many more cemeteries around Ypres.
We made this our last stop in Ypres in order to pay our respects to the fallen, but we made a promise to return in the near future and discover more delights of this beautiful and almost miraculous city.