village in Belgium and the Netherlands

Baarle is a border village that spans two countries: Belgium, and the Netherlands. 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.

Baarle and the enclaves – confused yet?
Country border right across a terrace

Understand edit

This little village with about 9,200 inhabitants is divided into two communities from two countries: Baarle Hertog (Belgian, 2,600 inhabitants) and Baarle Nassau (Dutch, 6,600 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. 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 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 should be untenable, the locals can't imagine any other way of life, nor would they want to.

Tourist information edit

Get in edit

By car edit

Baarle is easily accessible by car via the two Dutch provincial roads N260 and N639 and the Belgian provincial road N119. The Dutch A58 and Belgian E34 motorways are also 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 is at Turnhout. From there continue by bus.

Get around edit

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

See edit

  • Kapelstraat - If you walk on the left hand side of the road out of town, you will cross the border five times, however on the right side you will only cross the border three 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: M 12:00-20:00, Tu-Su 10:00-20:00; Nov-Mar: M 12:00-20:00, Tu Sa Su 10:00-20:00, W-F 11:00-20:00. There are all kinds of pancakes, including Baarler pancakes in spring. Cosy 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

Your expectations for nightlife should not be set too high; after all, Baarle is a village. However, it has at least seven pubs.

Sleep 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.