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:
Narikala is an ancient fortress overlooking Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and the Kura River. The fortress consists of two walled sections on a steep hill between the sulphur baths and the botanical gardens of Tbilisi. On the lower court there is the recently restored St Nicholas church. Newly built in 1996–1997, it replaces the original 13th-century church that was destroyed in a fire. The new church is of 'prescribed cross' type, having doors on three sides. The internal part of the church is decorated with the frescos showing scenes both from the Bible and history of Georgia.
The fortress was established in the 4th century and it was a Persian citadel. It was considerably expanded by the Umayyads in the 7th century and later, by king David the Builder (1089–1125). Most of extant fortifications date from the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1827, parts of the fortress were damaged by an earthquake and demolished.