Ypres or Iepers, or, as the British soldiers called it, “Wipers”, is one of a few Belgian villages that defines the utter devastation of World War I. Even today, nearly 100 years later, you can feel the war’s impact on the village by simply roaming its charming rebuilt streets.
Iepers laid on the Germans’ path to conquer France (it’s just 45 minutes driving from the French city of Lille), and so they surrounded it and shelled it continually from 1914-18. By war’s end, it was a pile of rubble. (Ieper’s sister city is Hiroshima.) It was completely rebuilt in the 1920′s, and fortunately wasn’t again destroyed during World War II!
A trip to Europe to learn more about World War I wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Iepers. The battlefields around the village saw the death of hundreds of thousands of soldiers - German, English, French, Belgian and Canadian and fewer Americans than other parts of Belgium and France. The Menin Gate is a memorial – an evening ceremony held every night at 8pm – to the 50,000 missing English soldiers – a testament to the large number of casualties experienced by all nations involved in the Great War.