Monday, April 10, 2006

Durbuy has Competition

Mesen Flanders' smallest city
The West Flemish city of Mesen has a population of only 988 and is Flanders' smallest city. Mesen was granted city status again, when a special law was passed on 19 July 1985. Not only does Mesen have the smallest population, but with a surface area of only 358 hectares, it is also Belgium's smallest city.
In 1057, Duchesse Adela of France set up a monastery for French aristocratic ladies in Mesen.
The Austrian Empress Marie-Theresa dissolved the monastery in 1776 and set up a school for orphans.
The Royal Institution of Mesen is still in existence today, despite almost the entire city having to be rebuilt, after it was raised to the ground in World War I. Small is beautiful
On 1 January 2006 Mesen, which is situated in the south of West Flanders, about 6km from the French border, had a population of 988.
The city has a total of 25 streets with 6 bars (including an Irish pub!) and tea room, as well as its very own post office.
There are also a some 5 monuments commemorating the Great War. The city is also home to an Irish Peace Park, which was opened in 1998 by King Albert II of Belgium, Queen Elizabeth II of Britain and the President of the Irish Republic.
The park was set up in memory of the great sacrifice made by Irish soldiers during the First World War.
The city is also home to a British war cemetery and even a Japanese peace pole.
Durbuy says it's smaller
While no one disputes the fact that Mesen is Flanders' smallest city, the locals in the Walloon city of Durbuy claim that their city is the smallest in Belgium.
Despite the area covered by Durbuy City Council having a population of some 10,534, the good people of the picturesque city in the Belgian Ardennes say that only the those living in the historic Old Town area of the city should be counted as being true citizens of Durbuy.
As only 400 people live in the Old Town, Durbuy claims that it is Belgium's smallest city. Whether or not this is true is open to debate.

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