Belgium, then and now

Today I wrote a heartfelt post on the Family Travel Logue about what my preteen daughter and I learned by visiting significant World War One battlefields near Ieper, Belgium.

Take a look at these two photos of the Ieper Cloth Hall and Grote Markt:

Ieper Cloth Hall in 1918        Cloth Hall and Grote Markt, Ieper (Ypres) Belgium (photo courtesy Joanne Scarborough)

There is no lack of charm to Ieper; many wealthy medieval cloth guilds spent fabric and button profits erecting gorgeous buildings.

What is extraordinary is that most of what you see was painstakingly rebuilt after 1918 by the determined townsfolk themselves. They had been left with an artillery-ravaged wasteland after German and Allied forces mercilessly pounded the same real estate over and over again; not much was left but mud puddles, pockmarked walls and gaping holes.

Their reward for that hard work was to be invaded again in World War Two, but that’s another story.

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