Flanders: Five Ideas for Visitors

February 21, 2020 11:04 pm0 commentsViews: 84

Flanders, the predominately Dutch-speaking region of Belgium, is filled with wonders at every corner. Visiting the region offers travellers perspectives on various periods in European history. From the picturesque medieval towns with tree-lined canals and architectural wonders to the rolling countryside that saw the horrors of trench warfare in the First World War, many memorable sights await visitors.

city centre of Bruges

Here is a sample of what awaits visitors to this diverse region.

Bruges

The city centre of Bruges (Brugge), a town popularized in the crime drama In Bruges, is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site. Best explored on foot, the town is famous for its canals and medieval architecture. End the day at the Markt (market square) with a beer or waffles as you look up at the towering Belfry.

Ghent

Making Bruges the base for your travels in Flanders means you can reach most attractions within an hour or two by train or car. Ghent (Gent) is a university town in East Flanders. Walking in medieval town centre and along its canals offers many stunning vistas. Visit in July and participate in the Ghent Festival (Gentse Feesten), which starts on the Saturday before July 21 and lasts for ten days.

Antwerp

For the big city experience in Flanders, visit Antwerp. This city is home to most of the world’s diamond trade and the 1920 Olympic Games. Instead of buying diamonds in one of many tourist traps, visit the city centre for a mix of history and emerging trendy bars and restaurants.

Ypres

During the First World War, Ypres (Iper) was the focal point of sustained battles between Germany and the Allies. Intense bombing left much of the town levelled. The landscape now is dotted with farmers’ fields, grazing cattle and the sobering sight of white headstones in many cemeteries for the war dead. The countryside is best explored by car, where you can visit the sprawling Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery near Passendale, the site of a major battle during the war. While in Ypres, visit the war museum in the Town Hall and the striking Menin Gate Memorial that bares the names of thousands of Commonwealth soldiers with no known grave.

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