Hex mansion or palace was built in the 1770s by the Liège architect Etienne Fayen for the Prince-Bishop of Liège, Franz Karl, Count of Velbrück (1719-1784). As a humanist and nature-lover, the prince-bishop chose this spot in the scenic Haspengouw region on which to build his country house and to lay out a number of gardens, including a Chinese garden, a kitchen garden and a rose garden. Later he added one of the first landscaped parks on the European mainland, inspired by the English landscaping of Capability Brown. The bishop died here in 1784.
The estate is now in the private possession of Count Ghislain d' Ursel, since the third generation. They keep the estate in shape and restore the valuable gardens and heritage.
The rose garden contains an exceptional assortment of about 250 varieties, of which the oldest were present in the original garden. Since 1970 Countess Michel d'Ursel restored and increased the original formal Renaissance garden laid out by Prince Bishop Velbruck in 1770. In 2003 the Garden of Roses was granted the Award of Garden Excellence by the World Federation of Rose Societies.
The gardens and the park are open to the public on selected weekends during the summer months.References:
St. Stephen"s Basilica is a Roman Catholic basilica named in honour of Stephen, the first King of Hungary (c. 975–1038), whose supposed right hand is housed in the reliquary. It was the sixth largest church building in Hungary before 1920. Today, it is the third largest church building in present-day Hungary.
The basilica was completed in 1905 after 54 years of construction, according to the plans of Miklós Ybl, and was completed by József Kauser. Much of this delay can be attributed to the collapse of the dome in 1868 which required complete demolition of the completed works and rebuilding from the ground up.
The architectural style is Neo-Classical; it has a Greek cross ground plan. The façade is anchored by two large bell towers. In the southern tower is Hungary"s biggest bell, weighing over 9 tonnes. Its predecessor had a weight of almost 8 tonnes, but it was used for military purposes during World War II. Visitors may access the dome by elevators or by climbing 364 stairs for a 360° view overlooking Budapest.
At first, the building was supposed to be named after Saint Leopold, the patron saint of Austria, but the plan was changed in the very last minute, so it became St. Stephen"s Basilica.
The Saint Stephen Basilica has played an active role in the musical community since its consecration in 1905. The head organists of the church have always been very highly regarded musicians. In the past century the Basilica has been home to choral music, classical music as well as contemporary musical performances. The Basilica choir performs often in different parts of Europe as well as at home. In the summer months they perform every Sunday. During these months you can see performances from many distinguished Hungarian and foreign organ players alike.