What if I tell you that boundaries between the two countries DO NOT divide the town with a straight line and instead zigzagged all through the town?? Through the roads, through pavements, and ….
Zigzagged white boundaries.
The result is that when you stroll around Baarle, you constantly pass in and out of the two nations ! And the people of Baarle have realized that this oddity has tremendous tourism potential. So they have marked most of the boundaries in the town. The borderlines are mostly done as metal discs or White Crosses on the roadways, sidewalks and walls. Also painted is NL or B to indicate the country.
National boundary cutting through the footpath.
An embossed map of Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau on a footpath.
So, do you think that with all these markings it would be easy to keep track of which country you’re in ?
Then you are wrong.
As you must have seen in this video, the boundaries can literally divide anything…. roads, pavements and the buildings as well ! For example, just south of the Baarle town center, along the main street, a beer distributor’s premises are split between two countries. Poor guy. 😛
The divided beer shop.
And then there was this bar with a pool table, where the border between Belgium and Netherlands ran right through the middle. The balls made thousands of cross border trips each day. 🙂
In fact, it is so confusing that you often don’t know where you are standing ! So how does one decide which country his house belongs to?
Look at the main door of any house. Position of that door decides the nationality of the owner. And this was the reason why I wanted to visit Baarle !
There is a story that when taxes were increased to a new high in Belgium, many people shifted main doors of their houses to Netherlands ! 😀 and when NL raised taxes… no prizes for the right guess. Of course there are stricter laws preventing this from happening now.
Coming up- Some more border confusions
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