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The crazy borders of Baarle

Posted on Sunday, May 18th, 2008 at 12:47 pm CET

Yesterday we went to Baarle Nassau to see my cousin Agnes at a pottery demonstration (see below). Baarle is a town in the south of the Netherlands with complicated borders that zig-zag through town. The border situation is the result of a number of complex medieval treaties, agreements, land-swaps and land sales.

Baarle Nassau
Amy on one of the borders

The town consists of 22 Belgian exclaves in the Netherlands. On the following map all that’s orange is Dutch and the green parts are from Belgium. You can see that some of the Belgian parts have small Dutch exclaves inside them! So if you live on one of those parcels you’re living in the Netherlands, surrounded by Belgian land, which is again surrounded by Dutch land!

Map of Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog

We made a small walk around town and crossed borders several times. The pavement shows you where the borders are:

Baarle Nassau

Houses in the Dutch part (Baarle-Nassau) have a number with a Dutch flag and each house in the Belgian part (Baarle-Hertog) has a plate with a Belgian flag. Apparently, each house needs to pay taxes in the country where its front door is located and it is therefore an old tradition to move the front door some meters if that is profitable for taxes, especially for shops.

Baarle Nassau

Baarle Nassau

In 1995, when borders of all the enclaves were remeasured according to modern standards, at least one house had to move from Belgium to the Netherlands, which meant higher taxes. The owners of the house didn’t want this to happen, so they moved the front door.

Here is Agnes at the wheel in her pottery stand. For more information about her pottery skills visit

Pottenbakster Agnes in Baarle Nassau

Pottenbakster Agnes in Baarle Nassau
Agnes at the wheel

In the evening we had a very nice dinner with my family at Brasserie Het Hooihuis in Roosendaal. It was great food with an original decor. Highly recommended!

Hooihuis Roosendaal


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