Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ypres, Belgium

Louis Raemaekers poster published in England
Like I mentioned a day ago, Husband and I were headed to Ypres up in the Flanders region of Belgium.
Pretty, festive lights

Ice skating in center square
Ypres is a beautiful city and it was all dressed up for Christmas with lights everywhere and an ice skating rink set up in the square. We wandered around the rink and looked quickly at the Christmas booths set up around it with sweets, sweaters, jewelry and spiced wine for sale.
...very dark

Right there on the main square is the very well done (and I recommend it) museum "In Flanders Fields" but man was it DARK. You definitely got the sense that Ypres was a place of suffering, misery and death during World War I. It was at the center of some of the worst fighting of the war... 500,000 deaths within a 25 square km. radius and the city of Ypres was completely decimated.
Louis Raemaekers depiction
 of Ypres after being destroyed

Gas was used during warfare and this was illustrated in a creepy display of the many forms of protection against the gas... i.e. hand with cloth over the mouth to the most modern (at the time) gas masks. Haunting wartime poetry was read over the loudspeakers as you walked through this area. Gas would rise up and condense on the inside of the cylinders.

One of the most interesting parts of the museum was a large display of art by the Belgian cartoonist Louis Raemaekers. His perspective on the war definitely gave you a sense of terror, fear, suffering and anger suffered by the Belgians during World War I.

After the museum experience, we wandered back out in the square and found ourselves a Brasserie and enjoyed a beer and sandwich.

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