One could wonder how the town of Ieper counting only forty thousand inhabitants could build between 1260 and 1304 a covered market 125 m long with 48 doors and a belfry 70 m high?
It was one of the largest gothic commercial buildings of the Middle Ages and the niches of the façades were decorated with life-size statues of historical personages, counts and countesses of Flanders.
This thanks to its wealthy cloth industry and international trade, in competition with Gent and Brugge. England was the principal supplier of wool. Actually behind the Lakenhalle was a small river the Ieperlee, now covered, by which goods arrived. Ieper paid for a canal leading to Nieuwpoort on the North Sea.
During WW I the Cloth Hall and the whole town, on three sides surrounded by German troops, were completely destroyed (see photo nr 4 ). After the war some proposed to keep the ruins as a macabre memorial but the inhabitants of Ieper wanted to find back their houses and their city like before the war. It was decided to return Ieper to the pre-war state largely with German money, part of the enforced "Wiedergutmachung".
Reconstruction took more than forty years and was completed in 1967.
The architects, a.o. J. Coomans, opted for a faithful reconstruction of the pre-war situation. So what we see is a copy of the original structure. At the bottom of the Cloth Hall, the larger original stones are still visible.
The Lakenhalle served as a covered sales and storage of cloth to the (now vaulted) waterway, the Ieperlee, the construction of the hall was completed in 1304
In this building the sheet underwent its last official control, and the drapers it finally could accumulate and sell
During the First World War, the building was completely destroyed, a piece tower and a couple of walls, the reconstruction was led by architects Ir. J. Coomans (+ 1937) and PA Pauwels
Above the 'Dark Gate ", under the arms, is a statue of Our Lady of Thuyne, patroness of the city
The 1st floor of the Lakenhalle can be visited through the Flanders Fields Museum
From the long front building of the Lakenhalle rise in the middle the belfry (70m) the present spire, with openwork helmet and dragon (1693) has been reconstructed in its original form
Originally the lower echelon tower was used as a treasury, the middle floor was formerly the armory from there, the 'Cats Throwing' takes place during Cat's carnival which held every 4 year
In the "Whistleblower House 'the 49 bells of the carillon hang
The carillon was completely restored in 2012, the city carilloneur gives a concert every Saturday, the sweet spot is reached by tourism department / museum cafe
The courtyard of the Lakenhalle, the belfry itself is climbing up conjunction when you a visit to Flanders Fields Museum
The museum is located in the rebuilt Lakenhalle - Cloth Hall of Ieper (Ypres) and was opened in 1998. It tells the story of WW I in and around Ypres from the standpoint of people who experienced the war themselves, the victims.
First victim the town of Ieper which was literally flattened. There was no building higher than one meter left except the Belfry. Second victims were the inhabitants who had been forced to evacuate in May 1915. From then on nobody lived in the ghost town of Ieper. The first inhabitants returned only in 1919 to rebuild their town and lived in wooden emergency houses.
Then there were the soldiers of which 500 thousand died in the battles of the "Salient of Ypres".
The "In Flanders Fields" museum is especially based on interactive audiovisual evocations about the life at the front, the battles, trenches, no-man's land, weapons, medical care, fatigue, rest and entertainment behind the front. Pictures, light and sound effects provide a rejuvenated form which explains the success of the museum with annually 200 thousand visitors.
No doubt that this war museum is centred on the human side, I should say inhuman side of WW I which was an ignominious butchery.
The technical aspects, weapons, equipment of WW I are less developed in this museum than in the Army Museum at the Brussels Cinquantenaire or at the British Imperial War Museum in London for example.
Among the technical horrors of WW I, it was at Ypres that chlorine gas was used for the first time as well as flamethrowers in 1915. In July 1917 the almost odourless mustard gas, called Yperite since then, was used here.
It is impossible to leave this museum without feeling deep emotion.
Open: 1/04 - 15/11 Every day 10 - 18 h. Last admission one hour before closing time.
16/11 - 31/03 Tuesday - Sunday 10 - 17 h. Closed on Monday.
Price: 8 €; groups > 20 p.;7 - 25 yr 1 €; 7 yr free.
RENOVATION WORKS (from 14/11/2011 till June 2012) ARE FINISHED. The surface of the museum has been increased by 50%.
New: visit of the beffroi: 2 €
In the 11th and 12th centuries a number of towns of the present Belgium and north of France (the historic Flanders and neighbouring regions) gained some autonomy in the feudal system of the Middle Ages dominated by the noblemen and the clergy.
The "Communes" were born; they were a first step to democracy. They obtained a charter from their suzerain and were allowed to build defence walls and a defence tower called Beffroi - Belfort often attached to a city hall.
There are 56 belfries in Belgium and France on the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
Often when approaching a city in Belgium you will see in the distance the tower of a cathedral and close that of a belfry.
In Ieper the 70 m high belfry is lower than the tower of the St-Maartens cathedral reaching a height of 100 m.
At the end of WW I both were reduced at ground level; what you see now is a patient rebuilding.
It's amazing that such a large building as the Cloth Hall (125 m long) and Belfry were build between 1260 - 1304 when Ieper counted only about 40.000 inhabitants. Thanks to its cloth industry and international trade, in competition with Gent and Brugge, the city became wealthy. England was the principal supplier of wool.
The Lakenhallen with their 48 doors was nothing else than a covered market and storage place. How amazing is the combination by our ancestors of architectural beauty and usefulness.
The Flanders Field Museum, inside the Lakenhalle, has been renovated in 2012 and its surface has been increased. It is now possible to climb up the belfry.
The ground floor of the belfry was used to keep the charters and the treasury of the city as well as a meeting room for the municipal magistrates. The second floor was an armoury and a prison. The upper floor was used by the watchman and houses the carillon, "Beiaard" in Flemish.
It is known from the town archives that two bells were fixed in the new belfry in 1280.
A century later there were several small bells and a large bell for the hours.
It's in 1608 that a first carillon with 21 bells was installed. There were many modifications in the latter centuries but the musical performance of the carillon was not satisfactory. Finally in 1909 a new carillon with 35 bells was installed. They didn't play for long.
On 22 November 1914 the Belfry and Lakenhallen were destroyed by the shooting of the Germans and the carillon fell down through the belfry.
A new carillon made by Michiels was installed in 1934, not without critics again about tonalities of some bells. Belgium is indeed a country with a large number of "beiaards" carillons so that we are not missing specialists and critics in this field of music.
During WW II the carillon staid safe and the bells were not stolen by the occupant. But the bronze of the bells had suffered from air pollution so that a new carillon with 49 bells was installed in 1963. That's the one with four octaves you can hear now. The musicality seems to satisfy present specialists.
There are carillon concerts on Sundays from June till September (except 1st and 2nd Sunday of August) from 15.30 h till 16.30 h. Also on Saturdays at 11 h, during the market, from April till November.
Ieper has a very good Tourist Office because tourism is an essential activity of Ieper.
On the excellent website http://toerisme-ieper.be/en one can find in English, Dutch, French and German all information he can think about visiting Ieper.
The main subjects are the following:
- Ypres and the Great War with In Flanders Fields Museum, the battlefields, the war cemeteries. The Last Post ceremonial.
- Explore Ypres' medieval past with the Cloth Hall, Cathedral, market squares and walk around on the 17th c. Vauban ramparts.
- Discover the today Ypres and its surroundings: food, chocolate (pralines), shopping streets, walking and cycling tours, touring by car in Flanders Fields, the famous cats festival.
- Forthcoming events.
The Tourist Office is located inside the Cloth Hall.
Opening Hours: Mon - Fri 9 AM - 5 PM
Sat - Sun 10 AM - 5 PM
Grote Markt 34
B - 8900 Ieper
T 057 239 220
F 057 239 275
Rebuild after WWI
La grand'place a une superficie de 1 hectare 25 centiares. La halle aux draps fut construite vers les années 1200 et servait de marché et de contrôle pour le commerce de draps. Le beffroi en fait partie du haut de ses 70 mètres. Le bâtiment à une longueur de 132 mètres. C'est un des plus représentatif de l'architecture Gothique en Europe. Dans l'aile est, on retrouve un bâtiment de style Renaissance mais les arches sont Gothiques. Comme la plupart des bâtiments de la ville, ici aussi la première guerre avait détruit pratiquement totalement le monument. Il fut reconstruit en style d'origine de part la volonté des habitants après la guerre.
The Great Market is 1.25 ha . The cloth hall build around year 1200 was for marked and control place for cloth . The belfry is a part of it and is 70 meter high and is also bell tower. The frontage is 132 meter long is one of the most representative example of Gothic architecture in Europe. On the east side there is a part built in Renaissance style. The arches in front of it are Gothic. Al the buildings around where during the first world war practically totally destroy.
The magnificent Cloth Hall is situated right in the centre of Ieper (Ypres) and dominates the main Market Square (Grote Markt). It contains the Visitor Information Centre and also the Flanders Field Museum which was undergoing complete renovation at the time of my visit so unfirtunately I can't review that.
The original 13th century Cloth Hall was completely destroyed during the First World War and the hall was subsequently rebuilt according to the original plans.
The belfry tower is located on the Cloth Hall, and it the oldest part.
Originally used as a watchtower for the protection of Towns people and their property, it had a 24 hour watchman, looking out for invader's and fire's. If something was seen, then the watchman would warn the inhabitants of danger by ringing the Bell's.
The Carillon has 49 bells, and at set time's during the day, the carillon plays.
Performances of the carillon are given on special days of the year, such as the anniversary of Armistice Day on 11th November.
The three floor's of the is Tower were used for different purpose's, one them was as a prison, it was used as a Treasury and Armoury, for meeting's, the town archives and Guild charters were once stored in the belfry tower.
THE STORY OF THE CAT'S!
Who would have wanted the life of a Black Cat in medieval time's, not me, for these poor Cat's were thrown from the belfry because they were considered to be associated with black magic.
Now day's, Ieper holds a “Cats Festival” every three years when stuffed toy cats are thrown from the belfry during the festival.
Lakenhalle is the Flemish Name for the Cloth Hall.
The Hall is an astonishing size!
When it was built, it was one of the largest commercial buildings of the Middle Ages, where it served as the main market and warehouse for the city's prosperous cloth industry.
The original Cloth Hall was built in the 13th century and completed 1304, but was destroyed by Germanay artillery fire and left in ruin's in 1914. Between 1933 and 1967, the hall was rebuilt.
Not everything is the same, such as the niches which used to frame life-size statues of historical people, counts and countesses of Flanders. The niches on the side wings are now mostly vacant, but those in the centre contain statues of Count Baldwin IX of Flanders and Mary of Champagne, legendary founders of the building, and King Albert I and Queen Elizabeth, under whose reign the reconstruction began. Situated between these two couples is the patron of Ypres.
The ground-floor halls where wool and cloth were once sold, are now used for exhibitions, the second floor, formerly a warehouse, now hosts the In Flanders Fields Museum, dedicated to the history of World 1
There are many beautiful houses on the market of Ypres that is dominated by the large building of the Cloth Hall. The Cloth Hall is an amazing building from the 13th century and has a Belfry of 70 meter high which was used as a commercial Hall (market) during the Middle Ages. This building is now host to the "Flanders Fields Museum".
At the feet of the belfry of Ieper is a commemorative plaque of the liberation of the city on 6 September 1944 by the 1st Polish Armoured Division under command of General Stanislas Maczek. This division was part of the Army Group of Montgomery who liberated a large part of Belgium in September 1944.
After the Battle of Normandy the Polish 1st Armored Division pushed to the North to liberate Ypres-Ieper and Gent in Belgium. This was done by the 3rd Polish Infantry Brigade (3 Brygada Strzelców). Belgium honored the Poles who liberated large part of Flanders by giving the 9th Rifle Battalion along with the title "Rifle Flanders" shoulder cords called "Fourragere" in the colors of the Belgian War Cross (9 Battalion Strzelców Flandryjskich).
The people of Ieper were grateful to Polish troops that they did not use artillery to chase the Germans and avoided so a second destruction of Ieper.
On the very evening that the Polish forces liberated Ypres the ceremony of the Last Post was resumed at the Menin Gate, in spite of the fighting still going on in other parts of the town.
The Cloth Hall served as a covered sales and storage place for cloth on the waterway called the Ieperlee. The constuction of the hall was completed in 1304.
During world war one the building was completed destroyed except for a section of the tower and a couple of the walls. The building was reconstructed after the sceond world war.
Nowadays the first floor of the cloth hall is home to the 'In Flanders Field' museum.
Of course this Cloth Hall is the number one eye catcher as you arrive at the Grote Markt in Ieper.
It is just an imposing building.
It was used as a place to trade cloths along the small river (The Ieperlee - which is now vaulted) - I did hear the rumours recently that they would reopen a part of this river in the Ieper city centre.
This Cloth Hall was finished around 1304.
This Cloth Hall was completely destroyed during the Great War. (See picture attached)
And after the war it was rebuild in its original form.
On the first floor you can visit the In Flanders museum - an interesting museum on the First World War - the so called Great War.
It is amazing to imagine a war where entire structures are destroyed, but even more amazing is the will to rebuild from the rubble. That is the story of this structure, the Cloth Hall of Ypres. According to accounts it was totally destoryed and then rebuilt. But the protection of this city took an unbelievable toll in lives lost, over 250,000.