The Flemish name for a Belgian town which was a centre of fighting during World War I. The French name is Ypres.

Ieper stands on the banks of the river Ieperlee. During mediaeval times, Ieper was in fierce competition with Poperinghe, a town located a few kilometres to the east. Both towns were famed for their central role in the European cloth and lace industry. Indeed, even today, the most imposing and prominent building in Ieper town centre is the amazing gothic Cloth Hall. It is now used to house the tourist information office and the excellent: "In Flanders Fields" Muesum. This museum is named after a poem which Dr. John McCrae wrote on 3rd May 1915.

One place you must visit in Ieper is the Menin Gate, an enormous brick and stone monument erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to commemorate some of the dead of World War I who were never found. At 8:00pm every night, a few buglers from the local fire service play the Last Post at the gate, which always draws gaggles of tourists.

However, Ieper does not revolve entirely around the events of World War I. In the main town square there are numerous tourist shops, selling delicious chocolate and fries with mayonnaise on, as advertised in Pulp Fiction.

If you are driving in the areas surrounding Ieper, keep an eye out for the green and white signs which mark cemeteries. There are literally hundreds scattered around Flanders, and I believe every one is worth a visit.

One note on safety: if you see any rusty lumps of metal lying around by fields while looking for/at cemeteries do not touch them! Unexploded ordnance is found every day in what the farmers call the "Iron Harvest". In fact the problem is so severe that the Belgium government has built a shell dismantling centre at Poel Kappelle.

The problem is that the explosive being used by both sides in those days is very unstable, and decays with age, meaning it could explode without warning, and is much more likely to go off if kicked. In fact, during World War I, the British Army dug enormous tunnels under German positions, packed them with explosives and detonated them. Well, some of them. A few didn't go off, and are still sat in unknown locations around Ieper, liable to explode at any point.

Updated 28/09/03

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