Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog – the two names of one city divided by many pieces of two different countries.
It was my first trip after I bought a travel card here. It’s on subscription and costs me 5.10 euro per month. So, I decided, I have to go monthly to at least one place, to make it worth it! 😁
I have seen lots of photos with those white border marking crosses and was quite curious to went there by myself. Turned out the place in question was not too far from where I live, so pretty soon I got on a train/buss to see it in live.
It was cold and really gray day and although everyone I spoke with, was sorry looking at my camera and the cloudy sky, I still enjoyed my trip. Yeah, I might not have the best photos, but yet it was nice experience. I was more sorry that, due to the lockdown, almost everything was closed. Therefore the only few working cafes (on Belgium soil, of course) was understandingly full. So, I had to skip the hot coffee I planed to have and warm myself up a bit. 🤷♀️
And here it is a bit of history about that interesting town.
Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog are two municipalities that divide the town of Baarle. Nassau is located in southern Netherlands in the North Brabant province and Hertog is located in the Belgian province of Antwerp.
Yet the international border that separates the Belgian town of Baarle-Hertog from the Dutch town of Baarle-Nassau does not run straight. The line is not even a curve. Instead, there are 26 separate pieces of land – little bits of Belgium and Netherlands scattered around Baarle.
The border markers are white crosses on the pavement and metal studs in the road, and it zig-zags its way across the town paying no heed to houses, gardens and streets. One line enters a block via a gift shop then comes out of the back of a supermarket.
Many homes are cut in half by the border,so as a matter of convention each household’s nationality is determined by the location of its front door and if the border runs through the street door, the two parts then belong in different states, and this is indicated by two street numbers on the building.
Not divided just by two, that would be too boring, huh!
That’s why I included a peace of Google maps, to illustrate the strange case.It was an amusement to walk around, crossing the border every few minutes and I wonder how those people live there. In lockdown in NL, one just croses the street and can sit relaxed in a restaurant in Belgium.
Also for many years the shops in Belgium were open on Sundays, those in the Netherlands not. With the exception of those in Baarle. Besides the taxes in Belgium and The Netherlands differed sometimes a lot. So one could go shopping between two tax-regimes in one single street.
Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau’s bizarre geography results from a number of equally complex medieval treaties, agreements, land-swaps and sales. All those deals between the Lords of Breda and the Dukes of Brabant one can trace back to the 12th century. The split between the Netherlands and Belgium was finally settled in 1839 and afterwards there was a need to determine the border. It took three border commissions to sort out the issues. The last one fixed a 36 km stretch and was completed only recently in 1995.
You can see more photos of Baarle at the Gallery.