New Flanders Fields initiative highlights World War I history in Westhoek
A new initiative in Flanders Fields will begin at the end of the month, aiming to immerse both locals and tourists in World War I history.
LANDSCAPES | Feel Flanders Fields was announced in a press release on Wednesday by the Westhoek region. From 29 April 2023 to 31 August 2024, exhibitions, events, cycling and walking routes will allow visitors to explore how today's landscape is marked by the war in the form of craters, bunkers, monuments and cemeteries.
The pandemic prohibited overseas visitors for several years, resulting in difficulties for the tourism industry in the Westhoek. Flemish minister of Tourism Zuhal Demir is eager to reintroduce travellers from all over the world to this part of Flanders. With an investment of 2.5 million euros from Flanders, she hopes the LANDSCAPES initiative will draw more people to the region.
"The environment is more than an idyllic setting. It comes to life and speaks to the visitor personally"
"LANDSCAPES | Feel Flanders Fields takes a different look at the war-filled past of Westhoek," says Sabien Lahaye-Battheu, chair of tourism body Westtoer. "Visitors enter into a dialogue with the environment, and the past comes to life. It's an enriching experience that leaves no one unmoved."
An exhibition about cemeteries called For Evermore is the suggested start to the programme. Visitors will learn to observe memorial sites in more depth and understand the often unseen history behind British, French, Belgian, German and American burial grounds.
“After this exhibition, visitors will never look at the Westhoek landscape in the same way again," says Dimitry Soenen, chair of the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres. "The environment is more than an idyllic setting. It comes to life and speaks to the visitor personally."
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