'Peace bridge' opens in Ypres
A new bridge installation opened on Saturday in Ypres, carrying the word "peace" in 92 languages. The unique structure was created by local restaurant manager Robert Van Eygen.
His restaurant, Pacific Eiland, is surrounded by water and had been using an old bridge that had become unsafe. The new bridge is 17m long and 3m wide and weighs 16 tonnes, four times more than its predecessor. It was made using laser engraving on durable corten steel.
"It's the crowning achievement of my life's work"
"I deliberately kept it international because it's a tribute to World War I," says Van Eygen. "At that time, 92 languages were spoken in Ypres by soldiers from 128 countries. I translated the word 'peace' into each language, and I wanted to include Latin because it is the mother of all languages.
"It's the crowning achievement of my life's work. You only get the chance to carry out such a project once in your life."
The bridge cost more than 300,000 euros and is one of 25 projects in the Landscapes | In Flanders Fields tourism project which was also launched on Saturday. Van Eygen hopes people will take time to reflect when they cross the bridge. "It will encourage passers-by to think about peace," he says. "With what's happening in Ukraine, that is very topical.”
#FlandersNewsService | Restaurant owner Robert Van Eygen and councillor Sabien Lahaye-Battheu with a preview of the new bridge in front of the old bridge © Thijs Pattyn