This tour takes in the dramatic history of World War I and the battles fought in and around Ypres. The city of Ypres, located in Flanders fields, was reduced to rubble by constant bombardments. Through the words of the poem "In Flanders Fields," by Canadian doctor Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, it has come to symbolize the meaningless slaughter of war. Now resorted to its former grandeur, Ypres contains numerous poignant sites and monuments commemorating the war.
There are many battlefields around Ypres where German and Allied armies fought without decisive victories. New weapons such as gas, land mines and missiles left 1,200,000 injured and 500,000 dead. Stopping at one of the British cemeteries, you'll see the Menin Gate, a famous British War Memorial with the names of 54,896 missing soldiers engraved on its walls.
Then, there's the In Flanders Fields Museum. It's an untraditional war museum, as it's not about weapons and strategy; rather it's about ordinary people, such as the soldiers, nurses, fugitives and children who endured the war. The purpose of the In Flanders Fields Museum is to keep this compelling history alive for future generations. The innovative high-tech methods used within the museum have earned it the title of "Best European Museum."
Following this visit, there will be free time for shopping and lunch. Before returning to the ship, you will also visit the Essex Farm Cemetery. It's one of the area's most visited spots due to its association with John McCrae, who wrote the poem "In Flanders Field" on May 3, 1915, the day after he witnessed the death of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer. Next to the cemetery is a marker with the date commemorating the writing of this poem.