The Ypres Giants
The Ypres giants, symbol of city power
The Ypres giant Goliath goes back to 1683. A giant was then built who was given the name Goliath at the occasion of a jubilee edition of the annual Garden day procession. He was given a Turkish look and from then on was part of the annual Garden day procession. Goliath - also named 'little Giant' - has nothing to do with any legend, contrary to other giants. It is an own creation which symbolised the power of Ypres and the loyalty to the own Ypres population. Until today Goliath can still be admired in the 3-annual Cat Parade. You can also see his picture on the wall of the station. A golden statue of Goliath keeps watch over Ypres from the Cloth halls. The giant is 7.5 m high, weighs 225 kg and is carried by 4 men.
ROBRECHT DE FRIES (Robrecht the Friesian)
Robrecht de Fries, 10th landgrave of Flanders is considered the patron and protector of the St Pieter neighbourhood. He was built in 1946 and first carried in the fair parade in 'St.-Pieters'. In 1961 a giants' parade was held in the St. Pieter neighbourhood in honour of the 35th anniversary of the giant Robrecht de Fries. He is 5.3 m high.
GODFRIED DE TEMPELIER (Geoffrey the Knight Templar)
The name of the giant originates from the Templars' yard (Tempelierstraat - side street Dikkebusseweg). Godfrey de Saint-Omer, alias the Knight Templar, co-founder of the Order of the Knights templar founded a church on his yard at the south-east side of the Timpelstrate (later Dikkebusseweg) in 1127 which was given the name Tempeliershof. He is also called the giant of the 'Kruisstraat' (referring to the annual fair in this neighbourhood). Godfried is approximately 5m high.
NIKOLAAS DE KANONNIER (Nicolas the Gunner)
An old Ypres chronicle teaches us that on 13 March 1678 the city of Ypres was under siege of the French led by Louis XIV. He took his quarters in the inn 'Het Wieltje' north of Ypres. An Ypres citizen, a certain Nikolaas Hoedt, was a constable at the service of the Spanish troops that defended the city and fired a canon ball in the direction of 'Het Wieltje' where the French king was staying. The bullet not only hit the ceiling where the king slept, but also 18 men of his personal guard. When the French entered the city a few days later, Nicolas was requested to enrol in the French army by Louis XIV. Nikolaas Hoedt answered he only served one god and one king... The people of the Torrepoort neighbourhood wanted to revive this event from 1678 in a historical-folkloristic parade of which Nikolaas de Kanonnier and others were part. After the parade the gunner shoots at the public with canon balls from the Torrepoort. Big and small children could thus take a souvenir or toy home. In the evening the inn 'Het Wieltje' on the Torrepoort square was bathing in mesmerising Bengal fire and finally set fire to with a few fireworks by the first citizen of the Torrepoort neighbourhood, Nikolaas de Kanonnier. The giant is 4.6 m high.
The Ypres giant cat Cieper, child of the 'Montmarte' (Bascule neighbourhood) was born on 1/1/1955 after a design of Frans van Immerseel with architect A. Versavel and blacksmith Jozef Mahieu. On 27 February 1955 he was festively expected at the city hall, together with Pietje Pek, where both giant children were officially registered and literally were given a giant ID-card. After the ceremony Cieper was placed at the 'Bascule' and crowned with a gold crown, embellished with gems. Cieper is 6m high and weighs 180 kg.
MINNEKE POES (PUSSYCAT)
In 1960 there was an exchange between the Bears' parade in Zwevegem and the Ypres Cat Parade. Minneke Poes, honorary citizen of Zwevegem, walked in the parade on 8 May. A few months later both giant cats got engaged in the Bears' parade in Zwevegem. Cieper, madly in love, literally caught fire when he touched a few power cables... Minneke Poes was designed by Frans van Immerseel. In 1971 she was donated to Ypres and in 2003 she was fully renovated.
PIETJE PEK (PETE TAR)
The Ypres devil Pietje Pek, giant child of the Station neighbourhood, was received at the city hall on the same day as Cieper to register his birth. Pietje Pek, born on 27 March 1955, must fan the cat fire in the Hall city and is like a mix of a witch, a devil and a Buddha. He was designed by Frans Van Immerseel. Seated on a devil's rock, he has moving wings and a tail and sports green goat's feet. He blows fiery smoke from his nostrils. Still Pietje Pek definitely does not want to scare children! He is 6.5m high.