The Top World War I Sites in Ypres, Belgium

See the graves of World War I soldiers at Tyne Cot Cemetery just outside Ypres
See the graves of World War I soldiers at Tyne Cot Cemetery just outside Ypres | © David Bagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kathryn Bulanowski
18 September 2020

The story of Ypres, located directly on Germany’s path to France, is one of conflict and loss, and it’s sure to provoke thoughtfulness and curiosity in all who visit. Read Culture Trip’s guide to the most historical spots to visit in Ypres, Belgium.

Sanctuary Wood, Hill 62

Museum
Map View
A trip back to Ypres’s past would not be complete without a visit to the trenches that World War I is famous for. Sanctuary Wood, located just below Hill 62, is an unforgettable, not-to-be-missed site with a family-run museum abounding in remnants of war. Its grounds are flooded with deep holes and cavities, probably as a result of bombings. Originally a space for soldiers coming off the front line, it is now open to the public and holds a vast collection of memorabilia and objects of interest. With preserved trenches and tunnels for spectators to discover, you can really imagine the daily life of a soldier here. A quick walk to the top of the hill also brings you to a simple monument that honours the members of the Canadian Corps who fought here.

Menin Gate

Memorial, Building, Cemetery
Map View
This memorial is a tribute to the British soldiers killed in battle here whose final resting places are unknown. The names of these missing men line the inside of the gate, which is open for both cars and passersby to move through. Wandering through the gate is sure to leave a mark on you, as you will see the names of more than 54,000 soldiers who were lost during World War I. Its location is also of significance because it sits atop one of the main roads that led troops through, allowing them to reach the front lines. A remembrance ceremony is held here each night.

In Flanders Fields Museum

Museum
Map View
The extensive and famous In Flanders Fields Museum is located in Ypres and contains just about every piece of information imaginable about the war. Housed in the old Cloth Hall, the building itself makes quite the impression. Given that World War I completely demolished the city, it is remarkable to witness its rebirth, and the Cloth Hall is no exception. The museum is interactive and allows you to journey through the war’s history. A personalised bracelet given to you at the entrance guides you through the museum from the perspective of one person tailored to you. This, in turn, offers you an intimate look at the war’s repercussions on an individual scale.

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Cemetery, Memorial
Map View
With 160 cemeteries in Ypres, there is no shortage to choose from, but one of the more notable is Tyne Cot Cemetery. Originally used as a dressing station and hospital during the battle, it has now been transformed into a British museum and cemetery housing an assortment of artefacts and memorabilia from the war. A walk through the cemetery offers a glimpse into the care taken by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in honouring these men. It is a peaceful place that is beautiful in its way, with each headstone a marker for an individual. Its large memorial has the names of missing soldiers dated after 1917, when they became too numerous to be inscribed on the Menin Gate.

Langemark Cemetery

Cemetery
Map View

It’s worthwhile to have a look at the difference between British and German burial grounds, so trekking over to Langemark Cemetery is a must. Smaller in scale and modest in nature, Langemark nonetheless houses more than 44,000 fallen soldiers. The cemetery is not as personalised as Tyne Cot, and this shows through the mass burial sites that it contains. It should also be noted that Langemark includes the remains of not only soldiers, but also schoolchildren.

These recommendations were updated on September 18, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.