highest point of the Netherlands is situated in the wrong place

January 28, 2014
The highest point of the Netherlands, situated at the three-border point known as Drielandenpunt in Vaals, is not in the right place. This is an MTD landschapsarchitecten discovery! On commission for the National Forest Service of the Netherlands, the Province of Limburg and the Municipality of Vaals, they drew up a plan for the layout of the Vaalserberg. The essence of that plan lies in the Drielandenpunt being restored to its old glory as being the highest point of the Netherlands. “Nature, culture, height and borders will be connected with one another in a surprising fashion”, was stated by Guus Verhorst, the Project Manager from the National Forest Service of the Netherlands and Frank Meijer from MTD landschapsarchitecten. national icon
To the National Forest Service, the Vaalserberg is one of the icons of the Dutch landscape. And just like other icons such as Radio Kootwijk, Groeneveld Castle and Fort Vechten, the policy of the National Forest Service is geared towards the restoration of these icons to their old glory. “That is logical. Almost everyone knows the Drielandenpunt”, is Verhorst's opinion.

attractive place

The Vaalserberg, together with the Drielandenpunt, is a spearhead in the leisure economy for the Municipality of Vaals and the Province of Limburg. The varying image of large trees, open spaces and panoramic views makes it attractive from all sides - The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. By winding your way through the hairpin bends of the approach road from Vaals you're deluded into imagining you're in a faraway country abroad.

old postcards

The hill is also brimful of the cultural history, though that is not always easily recognized. The poles that currently mark the Drielandenpunt are not in the right place. The highest point is not positioned at the correct spot. MTD landschapsarchitecten has proposed to restore the Drielandenpunt to its old glory on the basis of old documents and postcards. Meijer: “You must be able to put one foot on the intersection of the borders, that's what makes this spot unique!”
border lines
MTD's plan includes a hiking route which crosses precisely over the border lines of the three countries. Hence the core of Vaals will be directly connected to the Vaalserberg again. This was one of the biggest wishes of the border town’s mayor. The plan for the Vaalserberg was drawn up in close collaboration with the towns of Aachen en Plombières. As was the case for Vaals, they also support the relocating of the border road. Those who stand at the spot of the drielandenpunt nowadays will probably be run over by the traffic taking a short-cut over this roadway. If the traffic travels up the hill from Germany as well, then the situation gets even more dangerous.
in need of revitalization
Visitors who approach the plateau become disconcerted by the road signs, signposting, information panels and an illogical infrastructure. There are at least six marked hiking routes over almost the exact same track. Verhorst: “It would be nice to first take everything away, to look what the visitor would need and then to place only the absolutely essential things in a uniform style.” Despite the entrepreneurs on the Dutch side having renovated their catering establishments and the Wilhelmina Tower beautifully, there are still some buildings that need to undergo the same treatment.
space for development
On the Vaalserberg there is still some space for an attraction that would make the place more alluring and which would extend the duration of the visitors' stay. Verhorst: “Not a fairground-like attraction, but something that's slightly more museum-oriented, or a place where one could stay overnight in a special way, or just an extra something. Naturally, with all due respect for nature and the landscape.”
The National Forest Service wants to elaborate the plan jointly with the Province of Limburg, the municipalities involved, the Drielandenpark and with the new and existing entrepreneurs.