What city is between Netherlands and Belgium? Get to know this unusual border

What city is between Netherlands and Belgium? Get to know this unusual border
What city is between Netherlands and Belgium? Get to know this unusual border

Baarle is a city that defies geographical and political logic with its complex network of intertwined borders between Belgium and the Netherlands. This territorial enigma is the result of a series of medieval treaties, agreements, land exchanges and sales between the lords of Breda and the dukes of Brabant.

The peculiarity of Baarle is manifested in its 26 separate plots of land, including 22 Belgian exclaves in the Netherlands and three more on the border.

The city between the Netherlands and Belgium

In Baarle, the border between the Netherlands and Belgium divides streets, shops and even houses –

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Baarle’s history is as intricate as its borders. Originally, Baarle-Hertog belonged to the Duke of Brabant, while Baarle-Nassau was owned by the medieval House of Nassau.

When Belgium declared independence from the Netherlands in 1831, both territories were left with an international puzzle so complicated that it deterred successive regimes from defining exact jurisdictions. It was not until 1995 that the borders were finalized, when the last piece of no man’s land was attributed to Belgium.

In Baarle, the border is not just a line on a map, but a lived reality that runs through homes, businesses and streets. Some buildings are divided in half, with one part in Belgium and another in the Netherlands.

It is a place where a person can be in the same bed as their spouse, but sleep in different countries.

Daily life in Baarle is a constant dance between two cultures and legal systems. The differences become evident with the help of markings on the pavement: white crosses with ‘NL’ on one side and ‘B’ on the other, and house numbers marked with the corresponding flag.

Linden trees line Dutch sidewalks, while Belgian areas tend to be more architecturally diverse

What language is spoken in Baarle?

Despite the differences, the Dutch language is the main one in both communities, although French is taught in Belgian schools.

Baarle’s peculiarities have had interesting commercial effects: for many years, shops in Belgium were open on Sundays, while in the Netherlands they were not, with the exception of Baarle.

Tax differences between the two countries have also led residents to shop between two tax regimes in one street.

Today, although both countries are members of the European Union, the euro zone and part of the Schengen area, which has diminished the importance of differences, Baarle remains a fascinating case of coexistence and adaptation.

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