10 Most Unique International Borders In The World To Visit This 2023
Posted On January 5, 2023
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There are 197 countries in the world with borders to cross and there are countries with unique international borders. While they separate nations or states from one another these markings, exit-entry areas, checkpoints or natural demarcations…whatever you call it, actually bring nations and people together.
Yes, some perimeters don’t divide countries, in reality, just like the individual component of a jigsaw puzzle, they mold a unified whole. Below, in no particular ranking, is a list of some of the world’s stunning borders that you can visit or cross for their distinct peculiarity.
Vatican City – Italy and St. Peter’s Square
Perhaps one of the most visited unique international borders in the world is St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) which divides Italy and The Vatican. It was first established in 1929 via the Lateran Treaty between the Holy See and Mussolini, once you’ve walked over the white lines along the limit of this extensive plaza you can say “arrivederci” from Italy and “ciao” to The Vatican. Encircled by a 2-mile border of old city walls under the watchful eyes of Swiss Guards, entry to the square is free and although there are many seats laid out at the area, it is packed on Wednesdays when the Pope holds an audience with the faithfuls at 10:30 in the morning. Religious or not, going to The Vatican via St. Peter’s Square while you are in Rome, Italy is a chance to add another list of the countries that you’ve visited without spending a lot of money.
Cieszyn, Poland – Cesky Tesin, Czechia: one town, two countries
At one point in their history, Cieszyn and Cesky Tesin used to be one town under the Austrian Empire but after its fall in 1920, it was divided between Poland and Czechia (or Czech Republic). The Olza River cuts along the two towns and serves as the natural but stunning border. One town, two countries yet Cieszyn and Cesky Tesin still function as a whole and because they belong to the EU and Schengen zone, you can have your breakfast in Poland then cross a bridge to Czechia for dinner then back to Poland again later in the night.
Vermont, USA – Quebec, Canada and a library in between
In the 1700s, the towns Stanstead, Quebec and Derby Line, Vermont used to be one village until the international border was drawn, yet residents here don’t treat each other as Canadian or American, just neighbors. And it is also home to the Haskell Free Library and Opera House built exactly on the perimeter of both countries. It may appear like any other library except that its entrance is in the USA side while the books are located in the Canadian part and where citizens from both countries are free to enter without checkpoints.
Meanwhile, the Opera House on the upper floor is the only one of its kind in the world where your seat is in one country and the stage in front of you is in another nation. Black masking tapes run along the floor of this library that serve as the border separating these two towns, yet, it brings people together. This building enjoys its role as a “free zone area” for citizens of both countries and it is what makes it a “beautiful border.”
Slovakia-Austria-Hungary: a picnic table instead of border control
At a picnic table in Europe you can eat your lunch in Austria, Hungary and Slovakia all at once and at the same time. An interesting border known as “tri-point”, Szoborpark where the said point is located was established after the Iron Curtain (fall of communism) was “torn” down in 1991 to symbolize unity among these three countries.
Where barbed wires or checkpoints remind travelers of what separate countries, the tripoint representing Austria, Hungary and Slovakia show that borders are irrelevant. Citizens from the three countries including travelers are encouraged to have a meal together at the triangular picnic table at Szoborpark, forgetting boundaries that divide nations.
Belgium-The Netherlands and a border town split into confusing enclaves
Baarle is a small town in Northern Europe that spans Belgium and The Netherlands, and where you can order for a coffee in one country then enjoy your cup at a table in another nation. Puzzling it may seem but the international border that runs through this coffee shop has divided it into two countries. Or it is a place where a resident share the same bed with his/her partner but they sleep in different countries.
The international border meanders through this town dividing it into Baarle Hertog of the Belgium side and Baarle Nassau on the Dutch part with white cross and the letters B and NL on each side marking shops, cafes, banks, houses, and so on which has become a tourist attraction providing income for the two towns. What is more mind-boggling is that each of the two countries has enclaves that belong to the other one such as 22 enclaves on the Dutch side and 8 on the Belgian part, meaning that you’re walking in Belgium, in The Netherlands, in Belgium, in The Netherlands near the border to Belgium… This “confusion” in Baarle happened in 1843 after the Treaty of Maastricht was signed by the two countries to initiate peace and stave off future conflicts. The nationality of the residents is determined by the position of their front doors.
India-Pakistan: It’s dancing with your “frenemy” at Wagah Attari
Wagah is a small village in Pakistan that borders Attari, Amritsar, India and is well known in the world for the colorful flag lowering ceremony and changing of the guards. Everyday before sunset, the Beating Retreat (lowering of flags) and the change of guards ceremonies take place in this village attended by spectators from both countries as well as tourists from around the world. In total grandeur, Pakistani Rangers and India’s Border Force carry out a “military dance”, a border ceremony that reminds the world that although these two countries has a “tense” relationship, at the end of the day, they both share a similar culture and history.
Argentina – Brazil with the stunning Iguazu Falls
One of the world’s most breathtaking natural spots that fascinates tourists with its vastness and deafening sound is Iguazu Falls, a beautiful border between Argentina and Brazil. Situated at Iguasu River, the falls is found both in Parana when you’re visiting Brazil and it’s called Cataratas do Iguazu in Portuguese and in Misiones, Argentina with the Spanish name, Cataratas del Iguazu . Hailed as one of the newest 7 wonders of the world and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, 75% of the falls are on the Argentine side but nevertheless, even if you’re in Brazil, the view is equally incredible.
Norway – Sweden: not a bridge too far at Svinesund over the Iddefjord
On the E6 Route (European highway) between Oslo, Norway and Gothenburg, Sweden is Europe’s most stunning border crossing, the Svinesund Bridge which connect the two Scandinavian countries across the Iddefjorden sound (or inlet). Iddefjorden separates the town of Stromstad, Sweden from Halden, Norway. And not far from Svinesund on the Swedish side is Nordby Shopping Center which is mostly visited by Norwegian customers as the goods are cheaper than those in Norway.
China – Vietnam and the beautiful Ban Gioc-Detian Falls border
It is Asia’s largest waterfall and shared both by China and Vietnam. Ban Gioc-Detian Falls is not just a monumental waterfall but also encompassed by the scenic limestone hills of Guilin, China and the breathtaking Halong Bay in Vietnam. It is located in Dayin county China which is named Detian in Chinese and the district of Trang Knanh in Vietnam and is called Ban Gioc in Vietnamese.
France – Switzerland : Hotel Arbez lets you sleep in two countries
Way up in the European Alps is Arbez Hotel where guests sleep with their heads in France and their feet in Switzerland. Or your room is in France but the bathroom is in Switzerland and the craziest partition of all is the honeymoon suite where the interesting border falls exactly on the bed, the husband’s side is in France and the wife’s side in Switzerland.
In 1862, when a border was drawn between these two countries, it so happened that the line was marked exactly on a shop of a certain Mr. Ponthus that allowed him to do business in two countries all together. In 1922 it became a hotel and things got more complicated in World War II when it allowed German soldiers to stay in the French side (of the hotel) and French resistance troops in the Swiss part. Today Hotel Arbez is the perfect spot to stay for skiers especially if you want to experience sleeping in two countries at the same time.
Not all borders are equipped with armed guards, high fences, barbed wires and strict security checkpoints, sometimes they can be unique sights that become tourist attractions for you to visit. They are not just places where tension boils and international disputes start but they are the kind of international borders that serve as the best part of your travel which makes the trip worthwhile in the long run.
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