The Dutch remember you, oh Neutral Moresnet
Vaals Travel Blog› entry 15 of 17 › view all entries
December 10th, 2009 – by: Adrian_Liston
Being in Vaals for a conference, this morning I took the chance to visit Drielandenpunt (Three Land Point) for myself. This is the point where the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany all meet up. For over 100 years (from 1816 and 1919) it was the Vierlandenpunt (Four Land Point), as the tiny state of Neutral Moresnet also touched on the border.
Neutral Moresnet was a country of only 1 square mile, formed in 1816 after bickering between Prussia and the Netherlands over a zinc mine. Neither country would let the other claim the valuable resource (there were only two zinc mines in Europe at the time, the other was in Bristol), so they created a new country around the mine.
The country was officially a condominium, shared between Prussia and the Netherlands until 1830, then Prussia and Belgium after Belgian independence. Dr Wilhelm Molly, the chief doctor for the mine, was a strong advocate for Neutral Moresnet, and worked tirelessly to build a future for the country after the mine, first attemting to start a local postal service (vetoed by Belgium), then a casino (vetoed by Prussia) then even managed to get Neutral Moresnet declared the world capital for Esperanto. Unfortunately the peace settlement after WWI changed all that, and in 1919, after a noble 100 year history, Neutral Moresnet was absorbed into Belgium.
Despite being long gone, Neutral Moresnet is still remembered by the Dutch. The roads leading up to Drielandenpunt are named "Route des Trois Bornes" (Three Land Road) in Belgium, "Dreiländerweg" (Three Land Road) in Germany, but "Viergrenzenweg" (Four Borders Road) in the Netherlands.
As an aside, the highest point in the Netherlands, Mount Vaals, is also at Drielandenpunt. It is 322.7 metres above sea level.
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