Following the Menin Gate Memorial opening in 1927, the citizens of Ypres wanted to express their gratitude towards those who had given their lives for Belgium's freedom. Hence every evening at 20:00, buglers from the local fire brigade close the road which passes under the memorial and sound the "Last Post". Except for the occupation by the Germans in World War 2 when the daily ceremony was conducted at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, England, this ceremony has been carried on uninterrupted since 2 July 1928. On the evening that Polish forces liberated Ypres in the Second World War, the ceremony was resumed at the Menin Gate despite the fact that heavy fighting was still taking place in other parts of the town, including outside St Georges Church.
During an extended version of the ceremony, individuals or groups may lay a wreath to commemorate the fallen. Bands and choirs from around the world may also apply to participate in the ceremonies.This extended version of the ceremony also starts at 20:00, but lasts longer than the normal ceremony, when only the Last Post is played. Schedules are available on the Last Post website.
The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing is a war memorail in dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Yres Salient of World War 1 and whose graves are unknown. The memorial is located at the eastern exit of the town and marks the starting point for one of the main roads out of the town that led Allied soldiers to the front line. Designed by Sir Reginald Bloomfield and built and maintained by the Commonwealth War graves commission, the Menin Gate Memorial was unveiled on 24 July 1927.
The best way of seeing the city is to wander around on foot. Many people start at the Menin gate and follow the ramparts around to Ramparts Cemetery, one of the few war cemeteries within the city. The Rose Coombes Walk near Lille Gate is a more accessible way of accessing this cemetery. The tourist office located in the Cloth Hall is a good place to pick up maps and suggestions for within Ieper or the surrounding area.
Ypres (Ieper) is a wonderful destination in general, so make time to visit some superb boutiques,chocolate houses and enjoy the wonderful Flemish food and drink.
For a local person's tips on what to visit while in the city, look no further than Kelly Deriemaeker's excellent blog post on what to see and do. We quite like the tips and she manages to capture the true spirt of the city.