The old city of Durbuy is probably one of the greatest sightings in Belgium. Its narrow streets and medieval atmosphere make a wonderful impression on travelers. Visitors are drawn by its natural beauty and long heritage. The old architecture and typical houses are very well preserved because Durbuy remained rather secluded throughout its long history. Wars, turmoil and modernity did not impact much on its medieval appeal.
Durbuy used to be an important passageway for traders and merchants. The earls of Luxemburg requested in the XIIth century that Durbuy provided defense against their neighbor rivals in the provinces of Liege and Stavelot-Malmedy. Its strategic post on a rocky promontory above the Ourthe River provided the ideal location for building a castle and its surrounding walls.
Durbuy was granted the status of a city in 1331 so that it could build one’s army. Only a city had the privilege of having its own troops. This new status allows a garrison to be based in Durbuy at all time. Soldiers so secured its prosperous commerce and center of justice. That’s why Durbuy is known as the smallest city in the world.
Researches indicate that Homo sapiens live in Durbuy and around since the Paleolithic. Traces of prehistoric occupation were found in caves nearby. One can still ponder over the megalithic stone fields around the attractive town of Weris. The site reminds us that humans were drawn to the region since the Stone Age. These hauntingly beautiful stones were dressed above the Aisne River. It must have been built for ceremonial purposes. Its elements are connected to features of the land and to the cycle of the sun.
It seems that Durbuy has always been a magnet for believers ever since. It was a Christian stronghold since Antiquity. Its church radiated over many towns and villages. The main tower of the Castle of Durbuy still dominates the Ourthe River. Many earls, bishops, lords and masters have taken control over the authority of Durbuy over the ages. Countries battled for owning the richness of the land, whether that was the Bourguignons, the Spanish, the French, Austria and Holland. They all impacted the city in some way or another.
It’s only in the XVIIIe century that the Duchy of Luxemburg seized back the castle. We see it today as it was restored between the years 1880 and 1882. Durbuy is now part of the Luxembourg Province in Belgium. One traveler come across sites and monuments which bear witness of its long history.