The Migrating House – Baarle-Hertog, Belgium - Atlas Obscura

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The Migrating House

Not many houses move across borders, this one did it twice.  

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Borders change, sometimes leaving territories in new countries along with their inhabitants. On other occasions, a border can shift slightly to compensate for the flow of a river, or something related. But what happens when a land survey moves the border by just enough for a house to be accidentally relocated into another country?

The twin cities of Baarle Hertog and Baarle Nassau are a unique geographical oddity that dates back to a land dispute from the 12th-century, resulting in a crazy patchwork of enclaves and exclaves between Belgium and the Netherlands that never got resolved. 

However, the exact location of each border slowly became forgotten over time, and new roads and buildings were built where people thought they existed. Of course, such a situation cannot exist forever and a 15-year project to measure the exact location of the borders started in 1980 and concluded in 1995. 

Most of the borders did not shift much, others, very slightly. However, one specific border moved a few feet to the south, exactly past the front door of Chaamseweg 10. Seemingly insignificant in most places, but important in the two Baarles, as an old treaty dictated that the location of the front door dictated in which country a house was located, meaning the house had just moved from Belgium to the Netherlands. 

Its inhabitant at the time was an 84-year-old woman who did not want to deal with all the problems that come with emigration or leaving her country. She pleaded for help, but the municipalities could not make an exception. However, someone found a quite pragmatic solution to this problem not long after. They swapped the door with the window that was on its left, moving the house back into Belgium and solving all the problems with emigration for the inhabitant.

Visitors to the house today can see the border and where the door once stood by the location of the metal grid that was once in front of the door. 

Know Before You Go

The house is inhabited, please do not disturb the owners. However, you are free to take pictures and such on the outside.

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March 11, 2022

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