Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Cloth Hall of Ypres

Here I am in front of the imposing Cloth Hall of Ypres that was built in the 13th century and was one of the largest commercial buildings of the Middle Ages. The structure which stands today is the exact copy of the original medieval building, rebuilt after the war. The whole complex was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.

By 1918 almost nothing remained of the city of Ypres, because it was in the middle of the frontline between the German and the Allied Armies. Ypres was bombed to pieces and almost wiped off the face of the earth.Ypres these days has the title of "city of peace" and maintains a close friendship with another town on which war had a profound impact: Hiroshima. The association may be regarded as somewhat gruesome because both towns witnessed warfare at its worst: Ypres was one of the first places where chemical warfare was employed, while Hiroshima suffered the debut of nuclear warfare. 

In Ypres, the Great War is always just one step away.

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