Reconstruction of Ypres: A Walk Through History by Dominiek Dendooven
During the First World War the old medieval City of Ypres was the centre of one of the most notorious battlefields of war: the Ypres Salient. As early as 22 November 1914, the most famous monuments of the town, the Cloth Hall and St Martin's Church, were ablaze. Over the following four years, the entire town centre would be wiped off the map. In the winter of 1918-1919, a man on a horse was able to look right across the town. There remained just a few houses more or less still upright here and there. During the war, the whole population of Ypres fled or, from May 1915, was forcibly evacuated. But the first residents were already returning several weeks before the armistice. Those willing to return found themselves living in a totally destroyed town where all but nothing remained. They used fragments of the debris and abandoned war machinery to build their first homes. Ten years after the armistice, it looked like the town had never been witness to any war. Practically all houses had been rebuilt. Today Ypres is generally considered one of the best examples of post-conflict reconstruction. Full of stories of resilience and regeneration, this walk - which lasts about 2 hours - takes you by the most typical examples of Ypres' post-war architecture, but also shows the most striking deviations.
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