Büsingen - 2006-05-20

Büsingen - 2006-05-20

by Hugh Wallis

Text and all photographs © 2006, Hugh Wallis - All Rights Reserved

While changing planes in Zürich I had a 22 hour layover which I took advantage of, in part, to visit the German enclave of Büsingen - that is a part of Germany that is entirely surrounded by Swiss territory, separated from "the mainland" by a small stretch of land that is less than 700m wide at its narrowest (that part being the road between points 1 and 2 on the map below). There are a number of web sites about Büsingen but I found them all rather unsatisfactory as none of them gave me a really good picture of "what it is like" with everything displayed in relation to everything else. I therefore decided to do my best to record as much detail as possible on my trip in the hope that I can provide such a picture for others interested in this territorial oddity.

To set the stage I have provided two maps - one from Microsoft Autoroute 2006 (© Microsoft Corporation), marked up with key points (and the GPS recorded track of my car's movements - in blue). All the numbered points are recorded in more detail below.  Each such point is a "hot spot" in that, if you click on it, it will take you to the relevant part of this page. Hitting the "Back" button in your browser will then return you to the map. The spots are numbered in the order that I visited them so you can get a bit of an idea what my trip was like. Unfortunately for much of the visit it was raining (the only wet period of the day sadly) and so despite my best efforts to keep the water off the camera lens, some of the photos have suffered from that - maybe it just adds a sense of realism to the whole thing. I like to think so!!


This map is a topographical map of the same area which should help to provide some more context to understand it

The following are the photos I took at each of the numbered points in the first map above - in each case click on the thumbnails to see the full size picture.

Location 1

View of the Swiss border post from Germany, looking westwards

Location 2

Border marker in the middle of the intersection
Intersection looking eastwards - the house at the top of the hill is the Swiss border post at location 1
Intersection looking north eastwards towards Dörflingen (village in the background)

Location 3

Border stone number 1 in a private garden on the riverfront - taken from the river bank, outside of the property (looking north westwards)
Zoom in (from the same angle)
Looking north eastwards
Same angle - as you can see the private home is all closed up - it looks like it might be a riverside retreat rather than occupied full time.
Looking eastwards along the Rhine from the same location. the border marker is to the left behind the stone wall
View across the river - the markers in the water appear to be navigation markers and have nothing to do with the border.
Since no-one was around I summoned up the courage to hop over the gate and get some shots from another angle. This is looking south westwards.
Slightly wider angle
Across the river (i.e. southwards) from the garden.
Same but from closer to the stone
The Swiss face of the stone
The German face of the stone
The west and south faces of the stone
The "other" stone
Both stones - looking south westwards
There is a track way running parallel with the river to the north of the property - from there you can see the stone through what looks almost like a deliberately cut out hole in the trees/bushes - this is looking southwards across the river. Sorry it's a bit blurred - not enough light so a slow exposure with no means of steadying the camera.
Looking westwards towards the house (on the left) - with some Swiss cows on the right
This track is popular cycle track - despite the rain (evidenced by the drops on my lens) - there were many of them out on this day. This sign is just behind where I had stood to take the picture of the cows.
Now you see it in context
As I drove back up the hill (towards the intersection that is location 2) I got a good view of the property again.
Maybe a better view?

Location G

Those who know me also know that I enjoy geocaching. The location marked G is that of the only geocache (currently) located in the Büsingen enclave. It is called Hochrhy (I don't know why. Update 2006-05-25: I do now - a colleague has provided this explanation). To see more information click on this link - you can see my logs on that site under the name "Geofellas". I successfully found it during this visit.

Location 4

Driving into the village there is a small lay-by with an information board and a replica (made of metal and placed on a slant in the ground) of the border marker on the right hand (north) side of the road.
The replica, looking south eastwards. Clearly erected in the last few years.

Location 5

In the centre of the village is the main square with municipal buildings and the Post Office. These are the (infamous) two telephone booths, one connected to the Swiss phone system and one to the German system. This is looking north eastwards
The Post Office is at the back (north side) of the square - this photo is looking north eastwards
And this is from the other (east) end of the same building, looking north westwards.
Close up of the Post Office entrance, clearly showing the two postal codes above the door. Unfortunately, being a Saturday afternoon, it was closed when I was there and so I was unable to buy stamps and send postcards which I had hoped to do.
Going round the back of the building there was this note, for the Swiss mail service, on the back door.
Looking south along the eastern side of the square you get the impression from the sign that there is no fun allowed in Büsingen. You also get the sense of dual identity from the Swiss flag in the window across the road.
Another view of the main square looking north westwards from the south side of the main road. You can now see that the other side of the sign indicates that you can actually have fun in Büsingen, just only in certain areas.
A more "straight on" view taken from just a little bit to the west of the last photo. This clearly shows the location of the two phone booths.
Looking west along the main street, from the same spot.

Location 6

Heading out towards the west we encounter another border marker. This is on the north side of the road.
From another angle - looking south eastwards. Note the right angle lines on the top, indicating that the border makes a turn here. Only ¼ of the stone is actually in Switzerland.

Location 7

Another marker - on the north side of the road.
And again (looking south westwards)

Location 8

This is on the south east corner of the intersection - people waiting for the bus that stops on the road in Germany possibly stand in Switzerland while doing so. Photo is looking south eastwards.
Closeup - looking north eastwards.
Looking south westwards

Location 9

Another marker, on the north side of the road - photo looking eastwards
Close up showing the line clearly marking the bend in the border
Looking westwards

Location 10

After looping around the south west section of the enclave I drove back into the village. Here is a view of the main street and intersection - petrol station on the left. Photo is looking eastwards.
Prices are posted in both EUR and CHF (the ISO code for Swiss Francs is CHF - Sfr. seems, however, to be more commonly used for general commerce - similar to the use of $ and £ etc.).

Location 11

I then did a circuit along the road that runs in Switzerland around the northern perimeter of the enclave. This location is where it re-enters Germany. This is the only location where I saw a noticeable change in road surface between Switzerland and the enclave. This shot is looking south westwards.
Swiss post, border marker - looking north westwards.
Close up of the border marker at this location
The other two sides

Location 12

On my way out of the town I had a second attempt at spotting the marker where the border turns north - I found it here and pushed the long grass around it down to get a good photo.
Note that this marker is an odd shape (5 sided) the only one I found with that cross section
Looking up the track that runs just inside Germany to the north - you can see other border markers further up the track,
Another view up the track, zoomed in a bit.

Location 13

Between location 12 and the "in the road" marker (location 2), on the south side of the road, photo is looking eastwards. Oops - tilted the camera while trying to keep the rain off the lens. You can see the intersection (location 2 - where the car is) and the Swiss border post (location 1) in the distance. I think this gives a good feeling for just how close Büsingen is to NOT being an enclave. That section of road is just less than 700m long.
Closer up - same direction
Very close up - looking north eastwards - note line etched in top of stone.
From the other side

Location 14

Actually this is taken from west of location 14 - a view up the hill to the main Swiss/German border - the building is the Swiss border post
It was all closed up so I parked on the south side of the road just to the east of the building and took this photo looking north westwards.
Crossed the road and took this one looking south eastwards.
From Germany, looking into Switzerland - westwards. Farewell to Büsingen, nestled in the valley below.

About 1km to the east of here was the German frontier check point - I was all ready to take photos of it on approach but the battery died on my camera before I could do so. I was glad that it had at least lasted this long.

I hope you enjoyed this photo essay - please send any comments or question to hugh (at) our-own-home.com

Thank you

Hochrhy -

"Hochrhy" means "Hochrhein" in the local dialect. "Hochrhein" is the name of the Rhine section between Bodensee and Basel. Other sections are "Alpenrhein" (the most upper part), "Oberrhein" (northern from Basel), "Mittelrhein" (a very scenic part where the famous "Loreley" is located), and "Niederrhein".