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Europe > Benelux > Netherlands > Southern Netherlands > North Brabant > Baarle

Baarle

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Baarle and the enclaves
Country border right across a terrace

Baarle is a border village because it is in two countries, namely Belgium, and The Netherlands.

Understand[edit]

This little village with about 9200 inhabitants is divided into two communities of two countries: Baarle Hertog (Belgian, 2600 inhabitants) and Baarle Nassau (Dutch, 6600 inhabitants). It was formed at the end of the 12th century thanks to a dispute between the Count of Breda and the Duke of Brabant that led to a puzzle that continues to the present time. On Dutch soil, in Baarle and surroundings, are 22 enclaves belonging to Belgium and these Belgian enclaves in turn include 7 Dutch enclaves. Often these boundaries run across houses. The nationality of the inhabitants is determined by the position of the front door. A story tells that a Belgian displaced his front door to avoid getting the Dutch nationality.

The border's complexity results from a number of equally complex medieval treaties, agreements, land-swaps and sales between the Lords of Breda and the Dukes of Brabant. Generally speaking, predominantly agricultural or built environments became constituents of Brabant, other parts devolved to Breda. These distributions were ratified and clarified as a part of the borderline settlements arrived at during the Treaty of Maastricht in 1843.

In Baarle everything is doubled: two churches, two town halls, two post offices, two fire stations, two police forces (which are now housed in the same building) and so on. Even if outsiders say that this state would be untenable, the Baarler want to remain this extreme situation in any case, otherwise, they explain, in Baarle nothing more was going on. This place is a good example of two cultures that tolerate each other for almost two hundred years.

Tourist information[edit]

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

The village Baarle is well accessible by car via the two Dutch provincial roads N260 and N639 and the Belgian provincial road N119. Even the motorways A58 in the Netherlands and E34 in Belgium are in the vicinity of the village.

By bus[edit]

From Belgium take bus No. 460 (De Lijn) that runs from Turnhout train station to Baarle.

The Dutch Veolia passes Baarle with line 132 from Tilburg to Breda.

By train[edit]

The closest train station in Belgium Turnhout. From there continue by bus.

Get around[edit]

Baarle is a small village; you can easily go around on foot or even better, you can hire a bike to visit the surrounding nature. As both Belgium and the Netherlands are in the Schengen Area you do not need a passport when crossing a border.

See[edit]

  • Kapelstraat - If you walk on the left hand side of the road out of town, you will cross the border 5 times, however on the right side you will only cross the border 3 times.
  • De Biergrens (Molenstraat 98, Baarle-Hertog / Molenstraat 26, Baarle-Nassau) - The border crosses this beverage shop. As a result, this shop has two addresses, two telephone numbers and two cash registers.
  • Gierlestraat - Curious assignment of house numbers: When you reach Belgian territory from the Netherlands, the numbering starts over again.
  • Cultural Centre Baarle (Pastoor de Katerstraat 5, Baarle-Hertog / Pastoor de Katerstraat 7, Baarle-Nassau) - Again the border crosses the building. This Cultural Centre is used by both communities.

Museums[edit]

Buy[edit]

The Baarle border between Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog

Because of differing legislation the erotic video store is in Baarle-Nassau and the fireworks shops are located in Baarle-Hertog and are open all year round. Shops in Baarle open every Sunday. The reason is that in Belgium stores are allowed to be open every Sunday and Baarle-Nassau relies on its status as a tourist attraction.

Eat[edit]

The village Baarle has 20 restaurants (including 1 Italian and 2 Asians, 1 Pancake House, 4 cream and bistros, and 1 steak house). The regional cuisine is hearty, but quite refined, and the proximity to Belgium is evident in the rich beer selection.

Also culinarily, two worlds meet here. For example, there is the Baarler pancake (Baarloe Pannekoek): one half is with cheese and ham, while the other covered with cherries and powdered sugar.

  • De Pannenkoeken Bakker, Singel 16, 5111 CD Baarle-Nassau, +31 13 507 92 72, . Apr-Oct: Mo 12AM – 8PM, Tue-Sun 10AM – 8PM; Nov-Mar: Mo 12AM – 8PM, Tue, Sat, Sun 10AM – 8PM, Wed, Thu, Fri 11AM -8PM. There are all kinds of pancakes. In spring also Baarler pancakes. Cozy atmosphere. €2,40-€13,70.
  • La Pergola, Chaamseweg 54a, +31 13 507 79 86. The local Italian restaurant serves all the regular pizza and pastas.

Drink[edit]

The expectations of the nightlife should not be set too high; do not forget, Baarle is a village. However, it has at least 7 pubs.

Sleep[edit]

External links[edit]

Go next[edit]


This city travel guide to Baarle is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.