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.


This little village with about 9200 inhabitants is divided in 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 twice: 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

Get in

By car

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

From Belgian 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

Closest train station in Belgium Turnhout. From there continue by bus.

Get around

Baarle is a small village. You can easily go around by feet or better you hire a bike to visit the surrounding nature. To reassure you: you do not need a passport when crossing a border.




The Baarle border between Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog

Because of the legislation the erotic video store is in Baarle-Nassau and the fireworks shops are located in Baarle-Hertog and open all year round. Shops in Baarle are opened 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.


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


The demands on the nightlife should not be set too high. Do not forget: Baarle is a village. However, it has at least 7 pubs.


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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, October 18, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.