Ramparts & Casemates, Ieper
Walls & water
Ypres is a walled city surrounded by ramparts and ditches. In recent years much effort put into this wonderful heritage values offers visitors and residents many recreational opportunities. It is good to stroll along ditches were giving a little cool during hot days, during the winter solitude (relative) locations can relax. It is possible to round the ramparts on foot (count 1 1/2 to 2 hours forthe full tour
Ypres est une ville fortifiée entourée de remparts et de fossés. Ces dernières années beaucoup d'efforts de mises en valeurs de ce merveilleux patrimoine offre aux visiteurs et aux habitants de nombreuses possibilités récréatives. Il fait bon flâner le long des fossés en été donnant ainsi un peu de fraîcheur durant les journées chaudes, en hiver la solitude (relative) des lieux permet de se ressourcer. Il est possible de faire le tour des remparts à pieds (compter 1 1/2 à 2 heures pour le tour complet)
Walking along the top of the Ramparts is really like a stroll through a park...the trees are tall....the grass is green and lush...the moat lies to the one side as you walk...beautiful trees are everywhere...
Again its so hard to imagine what it would have looked like when the Australians were dug in here in below ground shelters..During World War I shelters were dug into the ramparts to house large numbers of resting soldiers and other rear line units...Australian divisions often temporarily had their headquarters in the Ramparts when their infantry, artillery and other support units were in the front line.
The Ramparts are of historical significance beyond the First World War in that the oldest part of the ramparts still surviving is near the Rijselpoort (Lille Gate) which dates from 1385.
The present rampart structure is the work of French fortress expert Vauban who was given the task by King Louis XIV in 1678 to strengthen the defences of the city.The ramparts were initially built from 1100 onwards and have undergone modifications many times...
The Ramparts Cemetery is also here....close to the Lille Gate...a beautiful setting...
More information about possible walks in this area can be found in the leaflet 'the Ramparts Route'. Get it at the Information Center in the Lakenhalle.
The walk around the ramparts has many different features and one of them is De Leeuwentoren. This tower is so called because of its' strength. It has a diameter of 13 metres and the walls are 2.4 metres thick.
The ramparts of Ieper are the best preserved in Belgium. There is a signposted route of about 2 1/2 km and takes approximately 90 minutes. Along the way there are information panels to tell you about the various landmarks you encounter on the walk. A walking tour of the ramparts can be obtained free of charge from the tourist information office.
As you could read in the previous tip, it is great to do the Ramparts walk. Doing this Ramparts walk, this means you walk on top of these Ramparts.
But walking on these Ramparts gives you no idea, on the fact where or how high you are walking.
A great alternative for this, is walking around the Ramparts, may be this is even a bit of an of the beaten track tip, as not many tourist do this, during their (short) visit in Ieper.
A great way to get across the water is taking the Ramparts Bridge, and like this you can start your walk around the Ramparts, lets say almost from the Menin Gate going clockwise around towards the Lille gate. And from here (from the other side of the water) you have a great view on the architecture of these Ramparts.
It is always nice to walk along the Ramparts, whatever season it is.
This walk is signposted, and is 2.6 kilometres long. It is open all year and free. It can easily be done with a wheelchair.
It is also pretty interesting that that there are panels in 4 languages explaining the important spots along the walk.
This route starts at the Ammunition Dump (Kruitmagazijn) and goes towards the imposing Menin Gate (Menen poort).
Via this Ramparts bridge you can cross the kasteelgracht (Castle canal), and like this you arrive in the Leopold III - laan.
When you cross this Leoplod III - laan you can take a walk into the "heempark : Het Hoornwerk van Antwerpen" (see further).
The official name of this bridge is the Posterne brug.
Often this bridge is used to make ceremonial pictures, like wedding pictures . . .
Using this bridge is a good opportunity to cross the canal, in order to admire the ramparts from the other side, you can also follow the path around the ramparts (go clockwise)
As we were walking along the Ramparts Route, we were kind of lucky, as at the moment of the VT-meeting there were renovation works.
Below the Ramparts there are the Casemates (Kazematten), these Casemates are vaulted rooms in the Ramparts.
And as for some time the was water entering this casemates via the roof structure, it was really necessary to do some restoring works, in order to rescue these Casemates.
So they removed all the soil from the Ramparts, in order to put a protective layer on the Casemates roof in order to prevent water to come in.
And like this we were very lucky that we could see the Casemates from above, and see how they were constructed.
These Casemates can only be visited with a city guide and on special occasions (like Open Monuments day) these casemates were used as sleeping places for the soldiers, as stables, and even as a field hospital.
From the Lille gate (Rijsel poort), we walked into the Rijselstraat - towards the city centre, about 50 metres - in order to see the Wooden House.
In fact this wooden house is a reconstruction of a 16th century house.
In the beginning of the nineteenth century Ieper had more then 90 wooden houses.
Unfortunately this house can not be visited.
From here we returned towards the Ramparts to continue our Ramparts walk.
The sightseeing tour of the Ieper VT-Meeting started at the Ammunition Dump (start of the Rampart walk).
Here our dear friend Patje (from Kuurne) started his great guiding. He explained us lots of interesting facts along this Rampart walk.
This Ammunition Dump dates from 1817, the walls are about 3 metres thick, that made it the perfect housing to keep the ammunition and the powder. Like this, this building also survived the First World War.
It only can be visited with a city guide.
nearby this Ammunition Dump are (free) toilets.
The old walls around the city are great for a walk with a view.
These walls are amazingly wide at some locations, just because some of the old storage room and living quarters are underneath.
They were build in the Louis the 14th time when Ieper became a Northern French bastion.
We walked along the ramparts and stopped at this deep tower - the Predikheren tower which dates from the end of the 14th century. The tower was part of the Bourgondian city wall and got its name from the Dominican cloister which was close by.
As you walk along the ramparts you pass this small graveyard.
Having met up at the station, and refreshed with drink, and Belgian chocolate we set off along the ramparts which you can get on to just across the road from the station. The ramparts are well preserved and it is a very pleasant walk. The original walls, made of earth with moats, date back to about the 1000 century. They were later fortified with stone and towers, and later still they became a complex with bastions and extra walls and islands. Patrick told us about the development and something about the nature in the park along the walls.
The walk started for us by the "Kruitmagazijn" or gunpowder store. Then we walked along to the Predikherentoren dating from 1390 and further to the Rijselpoort and ended by the Menin Gate.
from menins gate walk along the pathways that follow along the ramparts and defence system of the area, nice trees and you will come across small cemetaries - white crosses with names of the dead and their home countries.
yeper was almost totally blotted out from being in such a war zone - its a historic area and you get a bit of a feel of the area taking the opportunity to be there, wandering around etc.
It probably was too cold at that moment (Januray), otherwise I would have enjoyed the walk.
During Winter the remparts make a bit a sorry sight, but in Summer, when the trees have leaves, I am sure it must be a very pleasant walk.