“Kemmel” stands for the name of the village where this hill formation is located, whereas “berg” means “mountain” or in this case “hill”. Moreover, Kemmel comes from Camulos, the Celtic god of war.
With its height of 156 meters, the Kemmelberg is the highest point in the province of West Flanders. We Belgians are quite familiar with this landmark, because it’s very popular during cycling races, especially during the Flemish spring classics, mainly because of its steep, cobbled road.
But there is more to this landmark than heroic sports events. As Wikipedia points out,
During World War I, it was the location of one of the war’s most ferocious battles. Because of its strategic importance, it was fiercely fought in the Fourth Battle of Ypres. On 25 April 1918, German imperial forces, hoping to force a breakthrough to the North Sea, started attacking the French troops on the Kemmelberg with gas grenades. At 6 a.m. the German Alpenkorps seized and captured the Kemmelberg, causing allied troops to withdraw from all the hills in the region. Thousands of French soldiers were slaughtered.
In late 1918, the hill was recaptured…
Some other interesting facts:
- At the foot of the hill, you can visit a war cemetery, containing the remains of more than 5000 French soldiers.
- On top of the hill, there is a monument, commemorating the French soldiers.
- There is a hotel nearby, with the name of the hill.
- Under the hill is a bunker, which was built during the Cold War.
Have a look at this:
When Lars and I visited the area, it was a very misty autumn day. My pictures in color turned out to be very dull. So, I converted them to black and white.