This shows how stupid are borders and nations.
The Dutch municipality of Baarle-Nassau is home to more than 20 Belgian enclaves, some of which contain Dutch enclaves.
In a quiet corner of northern Europe there exists a geopolitical anomaly, where many buildings have an international border running right through them. It’s a place where a person might be in the same bed as his or her spouse, but sleep in different countries. A place where people move their front doors for economic advantage.
Not far from the Belgian border, the Netherlands municipality of Baarle-Nassau is home to nearly 30 Belgian enclaves, known collectively as Baarle-Hertog. On the map, they look like cartographic amoebae, some of them with Dutch nuclei inside.
This whole confused mess dates to the Middle Ages when parcels of land were divvied up between different local aristocratic families. Baarle-Hertog once belonged to the Duke (hertog is the Dutch word for ‘duke’) of Brabant, while Baarle-Nassau was the property of the medieval House of Nassau. When Belgium declared independence from the Netherlands in 1831, the two nations were left with an international muddle so complicated that successive regimes were deterred from defining exact jurisdictions. The borders were not actually finalised until 1995, when the last remaining piece of no man’s land was attributed to Belgium.
On first impression, it’s not easy to tell the territories apart, as they look no different from any typical red-brick small Dutch town. Around three-quarters of the region’s roughly 9,000 total residents are Dutch passport holders, and the Dutch municipality also has by far the larger share of land (76 sq km compared to 7.5 sq km). But after a while the differences become apparent, albeit with the help of pavement markings – white crosses with ‘NL’ on one side and ‘B’ on the other – and house numbers which are marked with the appropriate flag.
The Dutch properties are more uniform in appearance than their Belgian counterparts, and Dutch pavements are lined with lime trees, their limbs carefully pruned and braided like vines. The Belgian areas tend to be more architecturally diverse.