Durbuy’s claim to this title dates back to a city charter granted to it in 1331 by John of Bohemia, Count of Luxembourg. Surrounded by wooded hills, this historic city, with a population of only around 400, nestles at the foot of a rocky outcrop, topped with a castle. The River Ourthe flows through it, and it appears preserved in time, sheltered from disturbances by vegetation. This landscape attracts many visitors who love to walk in the surrounding countryside or along the narrow, cobbled streets of its historic centre. In the locality are 18 archaeological sites, 23 listed historic sites and monuments and 29 sites of special environmental interest. Its tourist attractions include an anticline, a topiary park, a mini-golf course and other sports and adventure sports activities… Its Christmas Market is especially popular, and there you can sample its speciality: potatoes with foie gras. Over the years, Durbuy’s gastronomic reputation has grown, thanks to its upmarket hotels, restaurants and brasseries. It may be the world’s smallest city, but it is a big tourist centre, thanks to its eclectic mix of attractions.
A charming, international city
Durbuy was founded on an island in the River Ourthe, which protected it from attack, as did its castle perched on a rocky outcrop and its almost 550m of ramparts over 6m high. Even today, this tiny stone city seems preserved in time, surrounded by gently lapping water and wooded hills.
Durbuy’s location near the border between the Condroz, Famenne and Ardennes districts gives it a surprisingly diverse natural and cultural heritage. The landscape and its habitats are the result of unusual geographical and geological conditions. The tiny city is built on the Calestienne, a narrow band of limestone which lies next to the Ardennes talus of sandstone-schist rock. The must-see geological feature is the famous anticline or Omalius’s rock. In several places, the river water has carved out caves in the rock, such as the famous Verlaine cave.
With its houses built of local limestone, its location next to a river and protected by jagged hills, Durbuy is a vision of beauty, and an ideal place to recharge your batteries, relax and devote yourselves to a myriad of outdoor activities: walks, hikes, horse-riding, kayaking, environmentally friendly adventure sports and trying to find your way through the famous giant maize maze. Tourists throng through the narrow streets to visit unmissable buildings, including the Recollect friary, the Diamond Museum, the Topiary Park and the Castle of the Counts of Ursel.
Durbuy’s gastronomic delights
Durbuy has built up an enviable reputation for upmarket hotels and gastronomic restaurants and brasseries, whose cooks rustle up both contemporary-style and more traditional Ardennes food, in an endless quest for judicious balances between local seasonal produce, such as the artisan Saint Amour jams, the flavoursome cheeses from the villages of Ozo, Morville and Oppagne and the top-quality local meat, ham and salamis. There are food festivals throughout the year in Durbuy, including the Spring and Chocolate Festival, the Crayfish Festival, the Beer, Bread and Cheese Festival, the Autumn Mushroom Festival and the convivial Christmas Market!