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.