life through the lens
home destinations a-z the big trips about me world beers newspapers updates/links top fives travel store



BAARLE - Belgium in Netherlands (in Belgium!) ENCLAVES


Location - Western Europe; Capital - Belgium - Brussels; Netherlands - Amsterdam; Population - Baarle - 9,200; Belgium - 11 million; Netherlands - 17 million; Currency - Euro MORE ENCLAVES

From Lier it's 35mins by train to Turnhout followed by a short bus ride to the quirkiest of European enclaves, Baarle - April 2014.

Baarle Hertog, as it's called in Belgium, is a Belgian town wholly surrounded by the Netherlands. But on closer inspection it has seven Dutch counter-enclaves within it. What a mess! The Dutch call their bit Baarle Nassau, which includes an eighth Dutch enclave just over the border in Belgium proper. Baarle Hertog: 7.48 km² Baarle Nassau: 76.30 km².

Baarle Hertog consists of 22 enclaves which also covers a few in and around the villages of Grens, Withagen and Zondereigen.

Two phone systems, two police forces (with all the cross-border legal complexities that provides!), two fire services, Dutch/Belgian churches, Dutch/Belgian addresses and postcodes. Cross-border cooperation for water, sewage and gas provision.

Historical background: Feudalism dating back to the 12th century split Baarle into pockets belonging either to the Duke of Brabant (Duke translates to Hertog, hence Baarle Hertog) or the House of Nassau (hence Baarle Nassau). Following Belgium's independence in 1830, a commission was tasked with defining the Belgian-Dutch border. You could say this proved a little difficult until - finally - it was settled in 1974, with an official marking of the borders happening as recently as 1995.

Google map of Baarle highlighting the borders. Zoom in to each patch to view nationality! Alternative map


euroBefore the Euro Baarle juggled the Belgian Franc with the Dutch Guilder










baarle78Welcome to the Dutch town of Baarle Nassau! And while you're here, welcome to the Belgian town of Baarle Hertog! The national flags of each country are on display - Baarle


baarle18The Belgian St Remigius Church is on Kerkplein right in the centre of Baarle


baarle15And of course there's a Dutch church, the OL Vrouw van Bijstand Church, next to the tourist information centre - Baarle














baarle6In front of St Remigius Church is a copy of Boundary Stone 214-215. Following the Treaty of Maastricht in 1843 a whopping 5,732 parcels of land were attributed nationality just between border posts 214 and 215 - Baarle














baarle21Scattered around town are white crosses marking the borders: NL for Netherlands and B for Belgium. This one divides the edge of Restaurant Den Engel on Singel, the main street - Baarle


baarle23From the restaurant the border continues into the middle of the road, turns left then right and emerges on the opposite side - Baarle


baarle24...And ends up here next to a wheelbarrow - Baarle















baarle25There's a plaque near the wheelbarrow which celebrates the official marking of the borders in 1995 - Baarle

















baarle28Border markers are all over town - Baarle



baarle29baarle30The Baarle Cultural Centre, on Pastoor de Katerstraat, is divided between the two countries - Baarle


baarle63This is the most famous of all Baarle properties. The border goes right through the front door! Baarle













baarle66Due to the boundary complexities the location of the front door governs taxation (and nationality). If taxes become more favourable in one country - just move the door! Baarle



















baarle67baarle68The building has two addresses. The Dutch one is 19 Loveren, Baarle Nassau whereas the Belgian address for the same property is 2 Loveren, Baarle Hertog - Baarle


baarle1The former Belgian town hall with St Remigius Church behind - Baarle


baarle16Chickens watch a mass of Harley Davidson bikers ride through Baarle















baarle9On the right, standing in front of the Dutch town hall, is a 19th century water pump, a national monument - Baarle















baarle32Hotel Het Kasteeltje on Pastoor de Katerstraat - Baarle


baarle34baarle35You'll cross borders several times walking down Kapelstraat - Baarle


baarle49Definitely a Dutch horse - Baarle















baarle77A big welcome for Sarah's 50th. No idea who she is but happy birthday! Baarle















baarle38It's strange to see so many firework shops in Baarle, a result of a Dutch law restricting firework sales to one day a year. Belgian Baarle Hertog took advantage and several shops sprung up. In a similar vein Baarle Nassau exploited Belgium's strict laws on sex shops and set up numerous, though looking around town I think times have changed on that one..


baarle46De Biergrens is a beer shop straddling Belgium and Netherlands - Baarle


baarle48And the border continues along the shop floor: Red, yellow and black for Belgium and the Dutch colours of blue, white and red.
Separate cash tills catered for the pre-Euro days of the Belgian Franc and the Dutch Guilder. The Belgian and Dutch cash tills remain.
By the way it has a great selection of beers - Baarle












baarle53Another quirky building is the pharmacy at 33a Nieuwstraat. Or 3 Nieuwstraat if you're on the Belgian side - Baarle


















baarle54baarle56aThe border is marked on the shop floor (left) - Baarle


baarle58Zeeman Textiel, on Stationstraat, is another shop with a dual identity - Baarle


baarle72One wheel in Belgium.. - Baarle














baarle69Here the border is marked in the road by circular metal discs - Baarle














baarle84This seat on the Bels Lijntje cycle path lies in both countries: Nassau is written on the left, Hertog on the right - Baarle


baarle86I read that residents can lie in bed with their legs in Belgium and head in the Netherlands - Baarle


baarle85Most of Bistro la Frontiere is in Baarle Nassau - Baarle














baarle87baarle89I accidentally cycled past the Grens enclave to the 'proper' Dutch-Belgian border a few hundred metres further on - Baarle


baarle94The Grens enclave is an easy bicycle ride south of the main town of Baarle along a cycle path - Baarle


baarle92aGrens is another Belgian enclave between Baarle and the border which falls within the municipality of Baarle Hertog. Note the Belgian flag on the sign - Baarle














baarle99The Grens enclave is marked by familiar white crosses on the Bels Lijntje cycle track - Baarle














baarle101Farmland in the Belgian enclave at Grens - Baarle



baarle102Riding into Zondereigen village with its church in the distance - Baarle



baarle106I wandered lost attempting to find the solitary Dutch enclave lying in Belgium proper, in other words a piece of Baarle Nassau in Zondereigen.
It's a lone piece of farmland and I reckon this is it in the distance.
Yep, just a bit of farmland, whatever.. Baarle













baarle108And cycling north over the Belgian-Dutch border back into the Netherlands, this is probably one of the patches of Baarle Hertog in Dutch territory (beginning with the row of trees and going back) - Baarle














baarle111Between Zondereigen and Baarle is the Death Wire peace monument, a reconstruction of an electric fence built in WWI to seal off neutral Netherlands from German-occupied Belgium - Baarle


baarle42'Tot ziens' (goodbye in Flemish/Dutch) to Baarle Nassau and Baarle Hertog - Baarle


eupenLater in my trip I took a bus from the German city of Aachen to the German enclaves near Eupen in Belgium.
Eupen is significant as being the head of the 'German-speaking Community of Belgium'.
The official language is German, a legacy of being part of Germany until WWI














Website and content Copyright © 2008-2014 Mark Wilkinson. All rights reserved.


LINKS - Baarle tourist office - Baarle explained - Wikipedia's Baarle entry - European enclaves - all you want to know about enclaves


I am not responsible for the content of external websites.