Situated on Belgium's western border with France, the pretty
town of Poperinge lies at the heart of Belgium's hop-growing region
of West Flanders, which supplies up to eighty percent of the hops
used in the brewing of Belgium's famous beers.
Poperinge's habitation pre-dates the Roman Era, but it was only
in the twelfth century that the settlement was granted an official
town charter. Initially prosperous as a cloth-manufacturing town a
series of wars which saw Poperinge repeatedly ransacked and burned
between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries prompting the town
to switch to the cultivation of hops for its income.
In the First World War, Poperinge was one of only two Belgian
towns to escape German occupation. Close to the battle front line
it became a safe haven for Allied soldiers, a base for field
hospitals and convalescence stations and an important distribution
centre for military supplies thanks to its road and rail links.
Today Poperinge is a charming and convenient base for exploring
the First World War battlefields of nearby Ypres, but the town has
many significant attractions for visitors in its own right, and
despite long-range bombing by German artillery many of Poperinge's
historic buildings remain intact and fascinating to explore.