The triangle border

As early as the Roman period the area around Vaals formed an important strategic, political and economic center for the inhabitants of that time. In particular, the mild climate and the lush natural beauty have always formed the basis for the attraction that the area exerted on residents and guests. Over the centuries, Aachen’s economic significance has left its mark on the area around this city of Vaals. The rich industrialists in particular built their capital country residences near Vaals. They are often found in the form of beautiful old mansions and castles. Vaals and the border triangle are, of course, also closely linked to Belgium.

The triangle border was a quadri border about a hundred years ago? After the fall of Napoleon in 1815, the borders within Europe had to be redefined during the Congress of Vienna. The border between Prussia and the Netherlands had also to be determined. However, this was no easy task. Under Kelmis (near Moresnet) there was an important zinc mine, both Prussia and the Netherlands wanted to have this area in their possession (the current Belgium did not exist yet: this area was largely annexed to the Netherlands)

In 1816 a separate border treaty was finally concluded, in this treaty it was stated that the area of ​​the zinc mine was divided into three: the town of Moresnet was added to the Netherlands; the current Neu-Moresnet became Prussian Moresnet and the area containing the town of Kelmis and its zinc mine was given a neutral status. This mini state, with an area of ​​244 hectares, in the shape of a pie point, and a border of 11 km, has existed for over a hundred years under the name: Neutral Moresnet.

The boundary stone of the fourth country “Neutral Moresnet” can still be found at the triangle border. As is clear from the foregoing, Neutral Moresnet was initially sandwiched between the Netherlands and Prussia. However this quickly changed with the Belgian Revolution in 1830. Then the southern part of the Netherlands seceded to continue as the independent state of Belgium. From the moment that the state of Belgium is a fact, there is a real four-country point. Speaking of boundary markers: perhaps the most beautiful, but also the oldest and most scarce boundary markers are those of the former free state city of Aachen. These decent-sized stones date from around 1340 and are characterized by an image of the Prussian eagle. However, many of these stones have disappeared over the centuries: of the 183 probably only 18 are left today. However, it is well worth scouring the forest for these medieval stones!

Immediately after the war, the economy of the border town Vaals flourished again. Hundreds of German citizens went daily to the Vaalser shopping center to do their shopping. This mass migration was popularly called “Butterfahrten”. The residents of Vaals themselves again found plenty of work in and around the neighboring city of Aachen. This period after the war is noted in the history of Vaals as remarkable. The so-called black trade flourished for many years. During that period, almost every inhabitant had smuggled, either on a small scale or in smuggling gangs organized on a large scale. Several of the small forest and meadow paths, where you can walk around the Drielandenpunt on one of the walks recommended here, were frequently used smuggling routes.

Before and during the Second World War, the borders were closed and Vaals became isolated due to its special location. Part of the triangle border was even destroyed in the war. In September 1944, the Wilhelminatoren (which had a beautiful view of both the Netherlands and Germany) was heavily damaged during the fighting around the battle of Aachen. The tower was used by resistance fighters as a viewpoint to Aachen. The German defenders responded by firing several heavy guns at the tower. The tower had to be demolished shortly afterwards due to the heavy damage.

In 1992 the construction of the largest and most beautiful labyrinth in Europe was started. The green plants soon grew into a full-fledged Labyrinth, in which millions of people are now, almost thirty years later.