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Ronald

Cities of Belgium - Pt. 4

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Cities of Belgium

This is Pt. 4, I'll show you Bruges, Ypres, and the horribly planned Flemish coast.

The last part, part 5, will be about industrial towns in the French-speaking part of the country (one of Europe's very poorest regions).

Where all the cities are located:

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Bruges

We only spend one night here, which was just enough to explore the historical core of the city. It's a medieval town, and these days it's crawling with American and Japanese tourists.

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The Flemish landscape, on the way to Ieper. Not much left of this, due to lots of sprawl. The bits of the countryside that are left, however, are being preserved carefully.

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Ypres

Like Bruges, Ypres was crawling with tourists, but only until the First World War. The city was completely destroyed (except for 1 building). Since tourism was a major source of income in the town, the inhabitants decided that the town had to be rebuilt to resemble the situation from before the war as exact as possible. Every building, every street was built in a way to resemble the older, pre-war situation. But the tourists never returned to the city (mostly heading to Bruges instead nowadays), because the town is considered to be 'fake'. Ypres also is one of the souternmost dutch-speaking larger towns. It felt like I was in France, and still I was able to just keep speaking dutch everywhere, very nice.

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The building in the middle is the only building that survived the war.

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A local doing some maintenance on his home.

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War monument, given to the people of Ypres by the British government.

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This is such a pity: they've got such a terrific square, and then they allow cars to park on there.

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Luckily, not the entire square has been given away to car traffic.

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The Flemish Coast

Since Belgium has hardly known any efforts to guide urban development into sustainable directions, the market was the main factor driving urban developments. The results are a massive wall of concrete along the Belgian coast. Hotels, Small apartments, casinos and the like dominate the seafront.

The coast at Knokke-Heist

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Every tiny bit of free space that becomes available along the coast is immediately confiscated by developers.

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A lightrail line runs along the entire coast.

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New residences, to be built at Zeebrugge (the harbour of Bruges)

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Yacht harbour of Zeebrugge

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Blankenberge, a town further down the coast.

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Behind the wall of concrete directly along the beach, a compact built environment (mostly consisting of rowhousing) is typically found in these Belgian coastal cities.

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One notable exception to the highrise-dominated coastal cities, is 'De Haan'.

At the municipal level, urban development was guided... the town is very walkable, and despite the fact that residential areas look very sprawling and suburban, it felt much more liveable than the other coastal towns.

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Artistic streetsigns

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The boulevard

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One more thread to finish off this series coming soon!

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