MMP and municipality of Zonnebeke open unique WW1 dugout to general public
On the occasion of "100 years Battle of Passchendaele" the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 and the municipality of Zonnebeke with the support of the Flemish Government, the Flanders Heritage Agency and the inter-municipal cooperative CO7 will open the 'Zonnebeke Church Dugout'. From 31 July till 10 November 2017 the public can visit this unique underground WW1 construction near the church of Zonnebeke.
In 1989 archaeologists investigated this dugout for the first time. In late September 2016 the investigation into the accessibility for the opening in 2017 began. After a positive evaluation of the final report of the engineering firm, the museum and the municipality could start the preparatory work in March 2017.
Online reservation to visit exceptional underground heritage
From 1 May 2017, individual visitors and groups can reserve tickets for the dugout through the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 website (http://www.passchendaele.be/tickets). If you combine a visit to the dugout with the nearby museum, you pay € 2.5 on top of the museum ticket price. A visit without the combination with the MMP1917 costs € 6. For safety reasons, only up to 50,000 people can visit the dugout during the commemoration period of the 100 years “Battle of Passchendaele”. After 10 November, the 'Zonnebeke Church Dugout' will be permanently closed.
Particularly well-preserved dugout
The underground complex is one of the best preserved dugouts in the region because the Allies built the dugout beneath the foundations of the former church. The structure consists of a main gallery of nearly 29 meters long, side corridors, five rooms and two access stairs and is about 5 meters underground. The original exit will be replaced by a new exit so that visitors can walk through the entire main gallery.
“Given the historic importance of this dugout and the temporary nature of this project, we are convinced of the added value and the accompanying international interest during the upcoming commemoration period. This ‘once in a lifetime experience‘ is fully consistent with the philosophy that we use for the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917: a military history museum where the experience is an important aspect", said Steven Vandenbussche, director of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.
Check out the preview of the Zonnebeke Church Dugout:
Some photos taken during the press conference on Thursday, 16/03/2017.