Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ieper (Ypres)

What do you say about Ypres? Total destruction, by the Germans, of one of the great cities of Europe, in 1915-17. The first use of poison gas, by the Germans, in warfare. The beginning of the stalemate and trench and artillery warfare that was to characterize this terrible war. Five enormous battles in the Ypres Salient in four years. Hundreds of thousands of combatants killed, many more wounded. No name more associated with the catastrophe of WWI.

The more positive attitude is to marvel at the reconstruction, beginning in the 1920s, and the beauty of the city as it now exists. It is indeed impressive and beautiful, and suggestive of the greatness that once was, comparable to Bruges and Ghent. Perhaps future generations, ignorant or insensitive or far removed, will be able to so marvel. Now, still, a century later, one can only mourn what was forever lost. And so much more.
A beautiful old building, dated 1544; but rebuilt;
if you look at the photographs, nothing was left
standing in the city center

Cathedral spires, rebuilt in the 20s, re-consecrated
in 1930

South porch, tympanum, all rebuilt

A beautiful flamboyant Gothic structure it was

It, and the Cloth Hall, among the first German artillery targets

A 12th century city marker, the only one to have

The Cloth Hall, one of Medieval Europe's very greatest
buildings; rebuilt in the 20s and 30s; Ypres rivaled Ghent and
Bruges in textile manufacture

Tower of the Cloth Hall

In the Cloth Hall is the In Flanders Fields 
museum; maybe next time...

Panning around the great square; all rebuilt from rubble and dust


Trench art--sculpted from shell casings--in a
book/artifact store


The Menin Gate, a tribute to the many thousands of Commonwealth
casualties who have no grave; hundreds of thousands of British
and Commonwealth soldiers would have marched out this eastern
city portal, many never to return


In the Menin Gate

Tributes continue

A beautiful city, if one can forget