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Not to be confused with Basel, a city which straddles the Swiss, German and French borders.
Baarle-Nassau Baarle-Hertog
Country Netherlands Belgium
Province North Brabant Antwerp
Commune Baarle-Nassau Turnhout
Area 76.30 km2 7.48 km2
Population 6668 2592
Density 87/km2 350/km2
Postal Code 5111 2387
Area Code 013 014
House Numbers
Huisnummer in 'Nassau'
Huisnummer in 'Hertog'
Baarle-Nassau - Baarle-Hertog-nl.png

Coordinates: 51°26′N 4°55′E / 51.433°N 4.917°E / 51.433; 4.917

Baarle is a village that consists of two areas: The Belgian Baarle-Hertog and the Dutch Baarle-Nassau. The Belgian part includes 22 exclaves. (In 1995 the border was finalized to include a formerly neutral grassland.) The exclaves, in turn, surround seven Dutch areas. Belgian territory also surrounds an eighth area near Ginhoven. This village contains three quadripoints.

Because of the borders, some buildings are located within both countries. This is the case for a branch of Zeeman. For these properties, the voordeurregel (literally: "front door rule") policy applies: their address lies in the country that contains their front door. The exception is a house on Loveren street with both Belgian (#2) and Dutch (#19) front doors. For convenience, every house number plaque shows a flag (see photos).


The name Baarle (referred to in old sources as Barle or Barlo) was declared in various manners. The last part certainly originates from the -loo suffix, this means forest on sandy ground, next to a settlement. The first part could be interpreted as:

  • baar: a bare, flat or uncultivated land[1]
  • barza: Proto-Germanic word for softwood.
  • Baro of Bera, an old first name.[2]

The suffixes Hertog and Nassau refer respectively to the Hertog (Duke) of Brabant and the House of Nassau which held the Lordship of Breda.

The name of the Tommel hamlet has its origins in the Latin word tumulus, meaning Tumulus. Various prehistoric tumuli are present near this site. There are also Urns that have been found around Tommel, which have been interpreted as evidence that this area has been inhabited since the Bronze Age.

History and administration[edit]

During the twelfth century the area was swampland. In 1198 Hendrik I, the Duke of Brabant made over some of the land to Godfried of Schoten, the Lord of Breda. Hendrick kept the lands that were paying him a rent.[3] The area that Hendrick kept is now part of Belgium. The area that was given to Gotfried is now in the Netherlands. The title "Lord of Breda" is now held by Willem-Alexander, king of the Netherlands.[4] The title "Duke of Brabant" is now a courtesy title of the heir to the Belgian throne.[5]

Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau each have a burgemeester (mayor). Each town has its own elected town council and each has a police station. Each town has its own church. In some areas the two town councils can cooperate. They have set up a joint council to look after things like electricity, water and gas supplies, highway maintenance and refuse collection.[6]

Both councils also fund a joint cultural centre that houses a combined library. The cultural centre has two official entrances. The international border passes through the building. The Dutch entrance is at 7 Pastoor de Katerstraat. The Belgian entrance is at 5 Pastoor de Katerstraat. The tourist office is affiliated to both the Dutch and the Belgian tourist boards.

Dutch trading law applies to the Dutch parts of the town. Belgian trading laws apply to the Belgian parts of the town. Differences in the laws have encouraged smuggling. After the Second World War many people smuggled butter from the Netherlands into Belgium.[7]:9 In modern times many people buy fireworks in Belgium and smuggle them into the Netherlands.[8]

Points of interest[edit]


  • Sint-Remigiuskerk, constructed in 1640 in late Kempense Gothic style
  • Villa of the Pastor of Katerstraat 3, constructed in 1900, in neo-renaissance style
  • Smokkelaar monument, within Prins Hendrik I-plein. It was built by Constant Grooten in 1992 for the 1000th anniversary of Baarle. In 1996 it was inaugurated by Sjaak Mulders and Mon van Casteren, both "smokkelaars-in-ruste" (retired smugglers), who were very active in the period in which butter smuggling was lucrative.
  • The Franciscanessenklooster, in a mansion located at Kerkstraat 7, founded by Franciscans of Sint-Jozefsdal in Herentals in 1879 and rebuilt in 1930.


  • Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Bijstandkerk constructed 1879, expanded in 1932 and 1958.
  • The former Station Baarle-Nassau, constructed in 1869.
  • Some service houses of Baarle-Nassau border, constructed in 1905
  • The ashlar waterpump, constructed in 1809, on the Singel. Four Schamp Poles can also be found here
  • A former tanner, on Chaamseweg 9A. It is a tannery from the last quarter or the 19th century.
  • A house on Singel 13, constructed in 1639, a Kempisch verdiepinghuis (Kempisch floor house).
  • Farm on Boschoven 9, constructed in 1636, with internal details on the facades.
  • Sint-Salvatorkapel (Baarle) in the Nijhoven hamlet



The areas of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog are especially agrarian in character, although there is some industrial activity. The complex situation led to smuggling becoming a significant source of income in this area. The middle class also profited from the exceptional situation. There is an expensive and busy selection of store fronts. There are also numerous parks in the vicinity.

As predicted, the population of Baarle, for the first decade of the 21st century, shows a downward trend.


Baarle contains, alongside broad agricultural settlements, a number of natural areas. Merkshe in the south is a beautiful stream valley and the Hollandse Bossen (Dutch Forests) in the west form an estate. Bels Lijntje, a former railway line, is now a bicycle path for tourists that runs from Riel to Turnhout.



The power grid has been set up redundantly.

  • In Baarle-Hertog and Zondereigen the electricity is delivered by Eandis from Belgium
  • In Baarle-Nassau and her parish Ulicoten the power is provided by TenneT from the Netherlands. The village of Castelré is powered by Eanis in Belgium

Cable (radio, television and internet)[edit]

Until August 26, 2012, the Flemish company Telenet provided both Dutch and Flemish television to Baarle. Since August 26, 2012, Telenet may not offer more services to the Dutch section of Baarle, because the cable, which belongs to Eandis, was bought out by the Dutch company Reggefiber. They have locked the cable distribution and provides fiber to the Dutch network. That means that the Dutch area of Baarle is now serviced by Dutch providers (such as KPN, Tele2 and Telfort) can provide service, but Flemish providers can no longer be used(such as receivers of Flemish commercial broadcasters, for example VTM).

In the Belgian area of Baarle there have been few changes. Telenet continues to offer service to the area, the Dutch commercial broadcasters (such as RTL 4) have removed the analogue cable offerings and these stations only provide digital reception. These are only available through cable (and thus through Telenet); other Belgian providers of radio, TV and internet are accessed via ADSL. They have no Dutch commercial broadcasters included within their package.


  • Enexis (from the Netherlands)



Many streets are visited by a rubbish collector twice per week (1x Dutch, 1x Belgian). The recycling centre on the Smederijstraat can be used by the whole population of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog.


The mail is delivered by PostNL in the Dutch area and bpost in the Belgian area.


The telephone network is redundantly served by KPN and Belgacom, but with a special condition: calls between Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau are available at local rates. Also, every GSM provider from the Netherlands and Belgium is available.


Due to legislation, there is an erotic video store in Baarle-Nassau and a fireworks store in Baarle-Hertog which is open the entire year. In Baarle there is Sunday shopping every week. This is a result of the fact that the stores can always be open on Sunday in Belgium and that, in Baarle-Nassau, many rely on the tourist attractions resulting from its enclave status.

Emergency services[edit]

The police of Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau are located within the same office on the Parallelweg in Baarle-Hertog and are locally established. The local police officer of Baarle is sometimes called the 'Dirco'.

The fire services of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog merged into a single body on 1 January 2010. The joint fire service is formed by Dutch and Belgian volunteers and the station is located at C.A. Bodestraat 2 in Baarle-Nassau.

Public transport[edit]


The village of Baarle is easily accessible by car via the two Dutch provincial roads N260, N639 and the Belgian regional road N119. The highways A58 in the Netherlands, E19 and E34 in Belgium also run near the village.


Lines from De Lijn:

  • Lijn 458 (Poppel - Hoogstraten)
  • Lijn 459 (Turnhout - Hoogstraten)
  • Lijn 460 (Turnhout - Baarle)

Lines from Arriva:

  • Lijn 132 (Tilburg - Breda)


Baarle had two railway stations until 7 October 1934, located at spoorlijn Tilburg - Turnhout.

This line has now been converted into a 31-kilometre-long cycle path called "Het Bels Lijntje", that links the two villages.


Baarle has several clubs and societies. Some have both Belgian and Dutch counterparts: for example, the football clubs of Gloria US (Netherlands) and KVV Dosko (Belgium). In other cases there is only one club in Baarle. They include:

  • Harmonie Sint Remi
  • Stichting Jeugdwerk Baarle
  • Heemkundekring Amalia van Solms
  • De Baarlese Beeldhouwclub
  • Karnavalsvereniging De Grenszuukers



Both villages have a community website that can be accessed through both and . By using European subsidies for border projects, the first community website opened on 30 March 2002. The website was taken down in 2004, after a Dutch opinion poll found that was one of the worst municipal websites. A new community website opened on 8 July 2005. At the time of writing this article (2012), each of the two Baarles has a different website.

Radio and television[edit]

The village of Baarle has its own local broadcasting, Baarle's local broadcasting, also known as Stille Genieter. In addition, there are still a number of regional broadcasters that are received in Baarle, Omroep Brabant (In Baarle-Hertog one receives digital TV via Telenet) and RTV (only available in the Belgian area).

Newspapers and magazines[edit]

The regional newspapers in Baarle are BN/De Stem, Brabants Dagblad and Gazet van Antwerpen. Baarle also has a weekly newspaper, Ons Weekblad.


  • The building which currently contains a branch of Zeeman, on the corner of Nieuwstraat and Stationstraat, was formerly the café 't Hoekske. The café stood on Nieuwstraat, the thoroughfare street from Baarle to Chaam which bisected the Dutch border. The innkeeper also hosted billiard games in this building. Due to the location, the notarial deed was signed in this cafe when selling property that was in both countries. A table was placed on the border and the notaries in each country would sign the certificates. Next to the cafe, goods could be officially processed through the Dutch Customs Office. Smugglers were also investigated at this location.
  • There is a landmark in the Belgian area in the centre of Baarle. This landmark is a symbolic landmark and is not located directly on the border. The pole is on the Kerkplein before the Sint-Remigiuskerk in Baarle-Hertog. The monument is a replica of the original monument. The monument was unveiled by both mayors of Baarle on 4 April 1976.
  • Also near Baarle is the hamlet of Tommel, to the south of Baarle before the Belgian or Dutch areas.
  • A second Baarle is a parish in Drongen, Ghent, East Flanders, Flanders, Belgium.

Neighbouring villages[edit]

Ulicoten, Castelré, Zondereigen, Weelde-Station, Weelde, Poppel, Alphen, Chaam

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Dr. J. de Vries, Woordenboek der Noord- en Zuidnederlandse plaatsnamen, Aula, Antwerpen - Het Spectrum, Utrecht 1962
  2. ^ Berkel en Samplonius, Het Plaatsnamenboek, Van Holkema & Warendorf, Houten, 1989, ISBN 90 269 4321 0
  3. ^ Whyte (2004). ""En Territoire Belge et à Quarante Centimètres de la Frontière" - An historical and documentary study of the Belgian and Dutch enclaves of Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau". The University of Melbourne. ISBN 0734030320. 
  4. ^ "Willem Alexander: Prins van Oranje enz. enz." [Willem Alexander: Prince of Oranje etc. etc.] (in Dutch). RTL News. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Duke of Brabant". The Belgian Monarchy. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Parker, Mike ,Map Addict, (2009) , Collins, London. Chapter 4 ISBN 9780007300846 [1]
  7. ^ "Ga stikken over de Grens" [Leaping over the border] (PDF) (in Dutch). VVV Barrle-Nassau-Hertog. April 2008. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  8. ^ "Smokkelaars van vuurwek betrapt" [Firework smugglers trapped]. Gazet van Antwerpen (in Dutch). 29 December 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2014.