Magriet is coming down!

The dragon of Ypres who has watched over the city and its treasures from the belfry for 700 years has moved from its place. Her place? Yes indeed by a real drakologist her gender was determined. At first contact on Tuesday, Nov. 26, Dr. Aeck (actor Eric Peeters) also gave her a name: Magriet. It does not come entirely out of the blue and is named after the various Magarethas who played a role in Ypres in the Middle Ages.

The Yper Museum makes a big deal out of it

The above is part of a series of events, organized by the Yper Museum, surrounding the restoration of the dragon. There is quite a bit in the pipeline. These include an exhibition, a children’s book, a dragon marathon and a scientific article series. Things can be followed on the museum’s website. Also very nice is the series of short videos in which the operations of the aforementioned “drakologist” and his assistant can be followed.

Not the first belly landing

It is not the first time the dragon has come down. Since the early 14th century, she has watched over the city from the top of the belfry. Already in 1383 it was severely damaged during the siege by the Ghent and English troops. She was brought down and quickly recovered. Then it took until the end of the seventeenth century before the first dragon finally “descended. She was replaced by a second dragon that looked exactly like the first. This dragon thundered off the belfry during the 1914 shelling. Fortunately, the debris was secured by Ypres so that a restorer could restore the dragon after World War I. Several times in the last century it came down: during a trade fair in 1933 and in 1952 after winds tore off a wing. The last time so far was in 1997. In that year, the dragon was completely refurbished but now 23 years later its copper body needs to be re-gilded.

Covid-19 is a killjoy, though

How we would love to travel to Ypres to meet Magriet in person. Unfortunately, quarantine restrictions keep us from going. It is not up to Magriet because she has no limitations, she even seems to visit the dragon of Ghent. It would also be something, by the way: a dragon with a mouthpiece. One cough and it’s gone ūüėČ

Report by Focus | WTC

Focus | WTC was kind enough to allow us to share the following report on the dragon of Ypres.

Eric Cornelissen

Eric Cornelissen

Wanneer het was is niet meer bekend maar tijdens een editie van de Gentse Feesten ontstond de interesse in de geschiedenis en de betekenis van Belforts. Met een vette knipoog naar Reinhold Messner die als eerste de veertien hoogste toppen van de wereld beklom moest iemand maar eens de eerste zijn die alle belforten van de Lage Landen gaat beklimmen! Pas later werd duidelijk dat het er geen 14 maar 56 zijn. Die Messner had het maar makkelijk.