Ypres Belfry & In Flanders Fields Museum (Flanders - Belgium)

As you may have figured out in the last 2 posts, Ypres was completely damaged and destroyed during the first World War. Whatever we see today in Ieper is a reconstruction made after 1918. One of the main buildings is the UNESCO site of Belfry. As I had mentioned in the earlier post, there are a total of 56 Belfries in Belgium and France that are listed together under UNESCO. The Belfry is a part of the Cloth Hall built in 1304 CE. As the name suggests this was a storage and sale area for clothes in that era. This site, as you might have figured out in the last few posts, was totally destroyed in the World War and the Belfry was rebuilt after the war.


After the war, a section of authorities wanted to preserve the city in its ruins as it is. However the owners of the lands and farmers who returned to their land, wanted to restart their lives and livelihood. So, the authorities had 3 options in hand - to preserve the ruins, to recreate the city as it was and restore the former glory, to develop a totally new city. The 2nd option was voted most and Jules Coomans, who was a major restoration architect of the city was given the task. Till date for 3 generations after him, his family is still into architecture in the town.

Today the entire Cloth Hall has been converted to a series of museums, research centres etc incl Belfry. The main entrance is via the In Flanders Fields Museum and there's also another entrance via Ypres Museum. With the time available we missed Ypres Museum. 

The In Flanders Fields Museum is an extensive exhibition explaining World War I and the situation of Ypres in it. Various things that the war left out in Ypres are here to see - right from bullets to grenades to clothing & accessories of soldiers to horse accessories to medical equipment to newspapers & posters and so much more! Documentaries and role-play videos also demonstrated of how a soldier's life was during the war. This entire place was more about the life of people than politics, which was very heartening to see.

See these marbles? These are granite marbles that filled the grenades, which exploded either by timer or impact. The mere force of these pellets is so much that it killed many at one shot. There was also a section of a much more endearing display - the various hobbies & crafts that the soldiers did when they were held prisoners. 

The Belfry is a flight of 231 stairs from this hall. By 1607, there were 20 bells here and the carillon culture thrived. However they all were destroyed in WWI and reconstructed under Coomans. In 1934, 36 bells made by Michiels was installed and in 1964, bellmakers Petit and Fritsens restored some of those and added new ones to total of 49 that still function. The best reason to climb it - from atop here, Tyne Cot memorial is visible! 


While there don't miss the golden statue of a clown with a cat! In the yesteryears, a real cat was thrown from atop here as cats were considered evil and unlucky. Today however the tradition is still followed but with a plush toy! This is a huge event of Cat Parade that happens once in 3 years. The last one just got over in May 2018. You could consider planning your Ieper visit in May 2021 to attend this spectacle as well...

To Stay:
Hotels & B&Bs at all price points are available in Ypres City Centre. 

To Get There:
To Ypres (Ieper) from Brussels: 130km (Direct trains are unavailable. Change of train at Gent has to be done. The whole journey takes 2-2:30hrs)

Entry Fee & Timings:
In Flanders Fields Museum: €9 (€10 from Jan 2019)
Combo ticket with Ypres Museum: €13 
Belfry: Additional €2
Can be bought at the entrance

Winters: Tue to Sun - 10:00 to 17:00
Summers: Everyday - 10:00 to 18:00

My complete Ypres travelogue: coming soon.

P.S: I was invited by Ieper Tourism to experience the city for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

8 comments:

  1. Oh belgium! One of the places on my bucket list. But didnt really know anything about it historically. Would have been better if it was preserved :) but this museums will also be informative so i am looking forward into visiting.

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  2. Three generations on restoring a city, destroyed in World War I! Amazing tale of how people value history.

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  3. I've always found the history of the great war fascinating. Many lessons that were never learned. The museums looks amazing!

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  4. I would consider myself a study of war history as I read about it a lot on my own. I've always found it fascinating and I would love to visit this museum and see all it has to offer.

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  5. That's a nice museum! Although we are somewhat outdoor people, we always make it a point to go to museums in places we visit. So much history and culture to be learned there.

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  6. It is so great that there's still few surviving remains of the WWI, and we can found the few at Flanders Museum. This is a great place for kids to learn about history so they could understand the present.

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  7. I am indeed intrigued with the Cat Parade in this old but beautiful historic city. One thing I don't understand is how throwing a car down will bring them good luck all those years ago.

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