Some towns just love messing with your mind

Just now, I was looking for job openings, and I had to look up a town on a map.

While looking, I noticed this:

ImageHmm, there`s something odd there near the border with Belgium.

Let`s zoom in:

ImageRight. Well that`s not making any sense whatsoever. Let`s zoom in a bit further still:

ImageI….what?? Is that actually borders within borders within borders?

Naaaaah! ….Right?

Let`s zoom in one more time:

ImageHoly fucking shit. All those dark lines are borders between the Netherlands and Belgium. That`s ridiculously confusing.

According to Wikipedia (because I do all my research on Wikipedia, okay, shut it), this unique situation with enclaves of both countries crossing borders in all directions and confusing the shit out of everyone, first came into existence in the 12th century, thanks to some lords who all wanted more land, but none of them wanted more powerful enemies. For example, Dirk VII van Holland, count of Holland, wanted to spread his influence southwards (interpret as you like). The Barony of Breda was one of his first choices. Hendrik I van Brabant didn`t like that idea, because he didn`t want someone powerful as his neighbour. So he started negotiating with Godfried II van Schoten, lord of Breda, who agreed to consider the land to belong to Hendrik instead of to the Barony. In exchange, Gotfried got to “borrow” some parts of the land.

However, some exceptions were made to some parts of the land, because they were already in loan to other people or Hendrik wanted to keep them himself. And that`s how the first enclaves came to be.

Ever since, there have been arguments back and forth, people fighting for the land, people only getting parts of it, etc etc, all of them adding to the confusion and complexity of the site. The last attempts were as recent as 1995, but obviously, they all failed.

Now, with some serious border complexity like this, there`s bound to be some…difficulties, to overcome:

Sometimes the border runs right through houses and buildings, causing different rooms in one house to effectively be in different countries. At one point, it runs through a shop even. Because of this, there`s a “frontdoor”-rule, meaning that whichever country your front door is in, is the country your house belongs to. Even this isn`t as straightforward as it looks, as sometimes even front doors are in two countries. This was solved by adding little flags to all house numbers, making it clear to everyone to which country it belongs.

Garbage trucks collect garbage twice a week: Once by a Dutch company, once by a Belgian company. Same goes for mail delivery, television providers, soccer teams, almost everything is done double: once for the Dutch part, and once for the Belgian part.

There are some exceptions to this too, like the police and the fire brigade, who have merged both nationalities into one group.

Also, because of the different laws, there`s an erotica store only in the Dutch part, and the firework store in the Belgian part is allowed to be opened the entire year through.

Oh the things you stumble upon in the middle of the night.

(source: maps.google.com
http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baarle-Nassau
http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geschiedenis_van_de_enclavekwestie_in_Baarle
http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baarle )
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