According to its inhabitants, Durbuy is the smallest city in the world. It is a medieval city located in the Belgian province of Luxembourg, in the hilly Ardennes region. This city is part of French-speaking Walloon territory.
First mention of Durbuy dated back in 814. In medieval times it was an important centre of commerce and industry. John I, Count of Luxemburg and King of Bohemia acknowledged Durbuy as city in 1331 with a city charter.
Weapons of Durbuy rulers in the past.
With circa 500 inhabitants Durbuy is a small city. It relies heavily on tourism and recreation. In the city centre there are a myriad of shops, restaurants and bars in the touristy city center. The price level is quite high.
The city has successfully preserved the medieval atmosphere. The charming small cobbled alleys, grey stone houses and the compact structure of the city heart attract tourists all year round.
When I was there it was packed with tourists exploring the narrow pedestrian alleys. I constantly heard Dutch and German spoken beside French and English. Shooting these pictures required a couple of minutes of patience for tourists-free images.
The Ourthe River passes through Durbuy. This is an example of how cities in the early ages were built around a river.
During the Battle of the Ardennes in 1944 between The Allies and German, Durbuy was mostly untouched. Other towns in the region were destroyed but Durbuy survived the atrocities.
This anticlinal (geological term applied to a U-shaped rock formation) is approximately 300 million years old.
Entering the city, there is a bigger anticlinal, it is called Homalius Rock. This rock is also 300 million years old. Pic is courtesy of WikiCommons. I didn’t take a picture of the rock myself because there were too many tourists in front of it.
Le Château de Durbuy (Durbuy castle) was built in 889 and destroyed many times due to wars between the ruling dynasties. Somewhere in 1880 it was rebuilt and it is now a private property. The castle is not opened for public.
An aerial image of Durbuy. Picture is courtesy of ffweg.com. When you are there, the number of visitors will amaze you but it is worth a visit. Durbuy la vieille ville (Durbuy the old city) might not be the smallest city in the world despite its inhabitants’ claim but it is surely one lovely beautiful city.
By car follow the signs for Durbuy from the E411, E25 or N4.
By train from Brussels (North, Central and Midi stations) to Barvaux there are two direct trains per hour. From other cities, take the train to Barvaux. From Barvaux, there is a shuttle (navette bus) to Durbuy.