Submitted by Editor on Tue, 2016-08-02 13:09 Durbuy Rock When we were visiting our son in Brussels, he asked me to name the smallest city in the world, I immediately blurted, “Vatican City”. When he said that Durbuy, located in the Walloonia Province of Belgium, is considered the smallest city in the world, I was surprised and decided to explore the place. We took a train from Brussels Midi railway station and asked for a return ticket to Durbuy. However, since Durbuy is not connected by train, I was asked to get off at Barvaux and take a bus to Durbuy. After a two-hour journey to Barvaux, I hailed a waiting taxi to take me to Durbuy, as buses do not ply frequently. Within 10 minutes, we reached a winding hilly road and saw a vantage point called Belvedere. In front of us was a deep valley between forested mountains. And located around a small river was Durbuy, whose prominent landmark is a castle. It looked picturesque. A short drive down the hill took us straight to the city centre. City Centre Castle of Counts Our first visit was to the Castle of the Counts of Ursel. Dating back to 11th century, the castle has been reconstructed several times. The earliest mention of Durbuy was in 814 AD. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Durbuy was in the territory of Count of Luxembourg. In 1331, King John of Bohemia gave it the status of a city, and built a wall around it. The total area of Durbuy is less than two hectares, and its population is less than 12,000. Topiary Park The castle is situated next to River Ourthe, which flows at a furious pace, and is an ideal spot for kayaking enthusiasts. On crossing the river, we came in front of the Topiary Park, which is home to box trees that are pruned into various shapes. This huge elevated park of 30000-sqft has over 250 figures, including human and animal forms. Some of the trees in this garden are over a century old. Author in front of Ourthe River After visiting the park, we crossed the river again and saw a small church built in 1632 and dedicated to St Nicholas. Some distance away, we spotted a huge formation consisting of lime stone strata said to be around 300 million years old. This straight and symmetrical rock known as Roche De la Felize is an example of rock formation due to tectonic movements. The region’s layers of dolomitic limestone can clearly be seen here. It’s shaped as a dome and lies just outside the city centre, near the car park. Roadside shop From here we entered a small cobblestoned street, which has stone houses built in typical French fashion. There are quaint shops selling locally made wine, bread and artefacts. We were told that Durbuy is famous for jams and wine. There is a jam factory called Confiturerie Saint – Amour where one can see jam being made in big copper vessels. A micro-brewery, which started in 1989, is famous for making beers like they used to in 14th century. Tourists can visit the brewery and taste the golden beer. There are four such streets in the city, and in one of them is a 14th century house named Spanish House. Originally a place for storing wheat, the building became the administrative office of the City of Durbuy. Now it is a model house depicting the life lived centuries ago. There is an adventure park here wherein a number of activities can be taken up. A small train takes tourists round the town and it stops at all important places. Durbuy is famous as a holiday resort because of its excellent food and drinks. It is also one of the prettiest places in Belgium. Near Durbuy is a place called Radhadesh, famous for its ISKCON temple. There is the Bhaktivedanta College teaching Vaishnavism administered by ISKCON. An old castle called Petite Stones has been converted into an ashram and temple (of Radhakrishna) where this college runs. Many Indians desirous of eating Indian food visit here after visiting Durbuy. Author: Dr. DV Guruprasad (Former DGP) is presently the Chief Executive of the Gokula Education Foundation (Medical) which works in the field of education and health care.