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 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.
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.
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.
French architect Vauban planned the enormous works to make from Ieper a giant fortress in the North of his country. Louis the 14th ordered him to secure the Northern freshly won areas and the fortifications of the bastion were started with a nine meter high wall with five pointy strongholds sticking out into the open land surrounding Ieper. A canal in which some islands was another obstakle the enemy had to win. Behind the walls there was a artificial hill created that lay against it and contained kilometers long tunnels. So called casemats. Here were rooms for the defensive force.
On the largest outpost (point sticking out from the bastion walls) there is a strange sculpture on the grass. It is vagely recognised as being two figures that are talking to one another and it seems to be that they are Reynaerd (the fox) and Tybeert (the cat). These animals figures are from one of the oldest literary works in Europe, the Dutch lingual "Van den Vos Reynaerde" = about the foc Renard). In a stone near the statue is a part of the fable inscribed.
"Tes hi quam te Malpertus
ende van't Reynaerde in zijn huus
Alleene staen verweendelike
Tybeert sprac: God die Rike
moete u goeden avont geven
Die coninc dreecht u aan uw leve ni
ne comdi niet te hove met mi"
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.
When we walk the path over the bastionwalls we will see some remarkable things. It starts already close at the Menin Gate, where a white square stone shows strange signs on the side of the path. They other side however gives the translation in which it becomes clear that it remembers the Indian soldiers that fell in the first world war. With British Expeditionary Force they too came as part of the Commonwealth.
After the horror in Ieper, the fortress shapes were still significantly present in the landscape of the West Corner in Flanders. All the rest was destroyed, but the fortress held, as well as the British Saillant did during the many attacks of the Germans. Now the fortress shapes and walls form a surrounding green park that offer a beautiful walk over a higher ground. At the Menin Gate we therefor will go up the stairs reading the names still and then start walking over the bastion. On the right hand Ieper's towers rise in the air. Saint Jacob's most close, as well as little later Saint Peter's. Little further the Belfort and the Cathedral.
Into the ground that lays against the bastion wall, mirroring into the defensive canal water, there are some stairs. These are entrances to the casemats, the tunnels and rooms that were build in the fortress to house the soldiers and make swift undetected moves of men possible. There is also a door that we pass along our walk. This is the one leading to the ice cellar. A deep place that was filled in winter's time with the ice from the canal. Deep underground this kept the place cool well into summer. A perfect fridge to keep food good for longer periods.
After Napoleon was defeated permanently in Waterloo, the Lowlands were unified in one strong country North of France (an attempt to prevent another easy growth in power of this country). King Willem I started to modernise Ieper's defensive fortress again in an attempt to give the people a feeling of safety and importance. Soon the Belgians however were not satisfied with Dutch rule and the split was swift and sudden. For the firts in history, Belgium came on the European map as an independant state.
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 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).
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.
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.