The Drielandenpunt near Vaals is located approximately at the top of the Vaalserberg. At this point the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany come together. There are various activities to do around the point, including a labyrinth, walking routes and delicious food and drinks at one of the catering establishments. There are also various activities for children. In addition, there are various monuments around the top of the Vaalserberg. There are also numerous boundary stones in this area. The Drielandenpunt near Vaals is a popular place for a day out, especially in the summer.
Origin of the Three-Country Point near Vaals
The Drielandenpunt near Vaals was first opened as a tourist attraction in 1928. A number of old border posts were collected and placed near the memorial stone of the highest point in the Netherlands, which was placed in 1896. However, the history of the Three-Country Point as it stands today goes back further.
Since 1815, various national borders have run at the Three-Country Point, including that of one of the two four-country points that the world has known. After the Second World War, Klein Moresnet was added to Belgium and has since been the tri-border point between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. In 1905 the first lookout tower, the Queen Wilhelmina Tower, was installed. In 1930, the first highway to the point was built to make it more accessible to visitors.
After the Second World War, tourism around the Three-Country Point near Vaals took on more serious forms and gained momentum. This was initiated by the construction of a new Queen Wilhelmina Tower that opened in 1951. From that moment on, more and more shops and catering establishments were added. Especially when the first King Baudouin Tower was built in 1970. The labyrinth at the point was constructed in 1992.
Activities around the Drielandenpunt
There are many fun activities to do around the Drielandenpunt near Vaals. The most famous is the Labyrinth Drielandenpunt, a maze where the aim is to find the center. There are also two viewpoints. You have to pay an entrance fee for this, but the view is breathtaking. There is also a huge network of different hiking trails around the Vaalserberg, ranging from about 3 kilometers to about 18 kilometers. This means there is a suitable route for everyone.
There are also several monuments around the Drielandenpunt, for different events in history. Finally, there are various catering establishments on and around the Vaalserberg. Some with beautiful panoramic views and all with unique character.
The Labyrinth Drielandenpunt is located on Dutch territory at the Drielandenpunt. The aim is to ultimately arrive at the center through high hedges, bridges and spouting water walls. Here is a lookout tower with a crown on the roof. The maze was built in 1992. Since then it has been one of the most popular activities around the Vaalserberg. Two lion heads and an eagle can be recognized in the pattern of the maze. The two lions represent the Netherlands and Belgium and the eagle represents Germany.
Finding the center of the maze takes on average around 45 minutes. In 2016, completing the Labyrinth costs €5 per adult and €4 per child aged 4 to 12 and for people over 65. Groups of twenty people or more receive a 50 cent discount per person. For a school trip, one supervisor for every ten children may enter for free. Entrance tickets can be purchased at the Labyrinth ticket office. From March 25 to November 1, the Labyrinth is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (box office closes at 5 p.m.). Outside this period, the Labyrinth is only open during nice weather during holidays and weekends.
There are two viewpoints around the Vaalserberg. One of them is located in Belgium, the other in the Netherlands. The highest of the two is located on Belgian territory, the King Baudouin Tower viewpoint. The smaller of the two towers is located on Dutch territory, the Queen Wilhelmina Tower viewpoint. Both are named after the king or queen who was on the throne at the time the towers were built.
Viewpoint King Baudouin Tower
The first King Baudouin Tower was built in 1970, named after the then King of Belgium. The first tower had a height of 33 meters and was built from two former French radar stations. The first tower was demolished in 1993 and a new, modern tower was built. The height of this tower is 50 meters and a glass elevator has been built inside. Both the first and second King Baudouin Towers are on Belgian territory.
The King Baudouin Tower is located right next to the border marker where the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany meet. The tower offers a beautiful panoramic view of these three countries. The Ardennes and Aachen, among others, can be clearly seen from the highest point.
An entrance token can be purchased directly next to the tower; if this sales point is not open, an entrance token can be purchased at the adjacent information point/restaurant. Climbing the King Baudouin Tower costs (in 2016) €3.50 per adult, €2 per child. It is open all year round from 10am to 6.30pm.
The Wilhelminatoren viewpoint was built for the first time in 1905. The tower that was built then was named after the then Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. The second Wilhelmina Tower was opened on August 11, 1951. This second tower was built after the first tower caused such severe damage to the building during the Second World War due to storms, lightning strikes and German artillery fire, that the first tower was demolished in 1945.
The current Wilhelmina Tower was completed in June 2011, after the second Wilhelmina Tower was demolished in the winter of 2010-2011 because it was in very poor condition. The second tower had already undergone the necessary replacements and repairs. The Wilhelmina Tower, which opened in June 2011, is 34 meters high and has a skywalk that visitors can walk across. There is also an elevator in the Wilhelminatoren.
The Wilhelminatoren belongs to Brasserie & Restaurant Wilhelminatoren. An entrance token can be obtained at this restaurant, but also at restaurant De Bokkerijder. An entrance token costs €3. The Wilhelminatoren is open all year round from 10am to 8pm.
Numerous walking routes have been mapped out around the Drielandenpunt near Vaals. The beautiful surroundings of the area around the Vaalserberg are certainly worth exploring on foot. The souvenir shop of the Labyrinth Drielandenpunt also houses the tourist information point of the area. Information is provided here about the walking routes and a booklet with walking routes can be purchased. The Drielandenpunt near Vaals also has a special walking package, where you can enjoy a delicacy before the walk and a tasty lunch afterwards.
Wandelgids Zuid-Limburg has also mapped out a number of walks in the area that can be followed. These are available for free online or via an app.
There are a number of special monuments to admire around the Drielandenpunt near Vaals. Near the Queen Wilhelmina Tower there is a propeller on a stone, a monument to a crashed plane. During a reconnaissance flight by the Royal Navy on June 27, 1932, the plane crashed at this location, killing the pilots.
There is also a Celtic burial mound near the Three-Country Point that dates from several thousand years BC, which is located between two roads. The burial mound is located on Dutch territory and is a national monument.
Just before the actual point where the three countries meet, the highest point in the Netherlands and the Drielandenpunt monument are located on Dutch territory. At this location the highest point in the Netherlands (European Netherlands) is located at a height of 322.7 meters above sea level. A few meters away is the official three-country point. This is where the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany come together. In the pavement you can still see where the fourth area once ran, that of Klein Moresnet.
Finally, there are two monuments on Belgian territory that commemorate the First and Second World Wars. Monument Via Dolorosa commemorates the place (municipality) where the Germans invaded Belgium in 1914. This monument consists of compressed war material and is located in the municipality of Gemmenich. The Pierrie Roiseux monument is a memorial to the war volunteer Pierrie Roiseux who died on the site of the monument during the Second World War.
There are a number of catering establishments around the Drielandenpunt near Vaals, each with a unique character. Brasserie & Restaurant Wilhelminatoren is located near the Koningin Wilhelminatoren. With a beautiful panoramic view over the Netherlands and a part of Germany. It is a Burgundian experience. From April 1 to November 1, the facility is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Outside this season, opening hours, with the exception of holidays, are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. only on weekends.
A little further away is restaurant De Bokkerijder. According to legend, the goat riders met here in the 18th century. Although it sounds mysterious and dangerous, the interior is modern and you have a beautiful panoramic view of the surroundings. The restaurant’s opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Mondays the opening hours are from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Finally, between the Labyrinth Drielandenpunt and the King Baudouin Tower, there is Taverne de Grenssteen and chip shop, poffertjes pavilion and Herberg de Grenssteen. Some historical objects around the Drielandenpunt have been recreated at the tavern. Here you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner. At the chip shop, poffertjes pavilion and inn you can enjoy snacks, fries, ice cream and other delicacies. The tavern is open all year round, with the exception of Christmas Day and Carnival Monday. The kitchen closes between 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM. The chip shop, poffertjes pavilion and inn are open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. between April 1 and November 1. Outside this period, this facility is only open in reasonable weather during holidays and weekends.