Once a bustling centre of industry ranking alongside Bruges and Ghent, it's now impossible to reference Ypres (Ieper in Dutch) without acknowledging the huge role it played in WWI. After its almost total annihilation, the town was rebuilt to its former specifications – a monumental task – to serve as a memorial to those who lost their lives here in the Great War. Its restored Lakenhalle is one of Belgium's most spectacular buildings.
Ypres has become a place of pilgrimage for many. It's the gateway to the Salient (aka Flanders Fields), a bow-shaped bulge that formed the front line around town; some 300,000 Allied soldiers and up to 200,000 civilians and German troops lost their lives here.
In recent years visitor numbers from Commonwealth countries have soared; plan your visit well in advance to avoid disappointment.