Articles, Blog

Büsingen: The Village In Two Countries At The Same Time

February 27, 2020


Hello and Grüezi! It’s a ridiculously sunny day in February
and I’m in Switzerland. Or am I in Germany? Huh. That’s weird. Ok. There’s a German post office. There’s a car with a German numberplate. And that is a very German signpost. But if this is Germany, then why don’t they
use Euros? Why are there Swiss flags everywhere? And why do they use the Swiss greeting “Grüezi”
instead of the German “Guten Tag”? Welcome to confusing Büsingen. This is the small town of Schaffhausen in
northern Switzerland. It lies on the river Rhein, and has an attractive
historic centre, including the 14th century Haus Zum Ritter
with its exquisitely painted frescos, although the town is perhaps best known for
the nearby spectacular Rheinfall, the biggest waterfall in Europe in terms of
waterflow. And of course, we’re not here to see any
of that. What we’re interested in is this. The strange little exclave of Büsingen Am
Hochrhein, home to just under 1500 Germans, who are cut off from the rest of Germany and surrounded by Switzerland. It’s a ten-minute bus ride from the centre
of Schaffhausen, or on a day like this, a lovely 30-minute
walk along the river. And despite signs saying goodbye from Schaffhausen
and welcome to Büsingen, there is almost nothing to tell you that you’re
entering another country; the only clue is on the other side of this
sign, where the letters CH tell you that Switzerland is back that way. In fact, the invisible border runs straight
down this side road. That means that the Swiss residents on the
left pay lower income tax, but their German neighbours on the right get
a tax break on pensions. Büsingen has an average age of over 50. So what’s the story here, how did a small
village inside Switzerland end up being German? Well it all starts with a family argument
in 1693. In 1693, Büsingen is under the control of
an Austrian noble called Eberhard Im Thurn who lives in this house here. The problems begin when he falls out with
his protestant family because they think he’s secretly Catholic. He ends up getting kidnapped by his own cousins
and taken to Schaffhausen, in protestant Switzerland, where he’s trialled and sentenced to life
in prison. It took six years and the threat of Austria
invading Schaffhausen to get him out. A few decades later when things had calmed
down a bit, Austria decided to sell most of the land around
here to the Swiss; but they held on to Büsingen itself, for basically no reason other than pure childish
spite. They subsequently lost it in 1805 after defeat
to Napoleon and it ended up in the hands of Württemburg which eventually became part of modern Germany, but the point is today, 300 years later, it’s still not Swiss. Or is it? Because although legally this is German territory, culturally and economically it’s pretty
Swiss. And I don’t just mean that the locals say
Grüezi; we’re in the Swiss customs zone which means there are checks on exports to
Germany and the EU; and look what happens when I pay for
a drink. This is the restaurant Waldheim, tucked just
inside the border at the other end of the exclave. In summer, when they put tables outside, you can order food in Germany, pay for it in Swiss francs, sit on a chair in Germany and eat it off a table in Switzerland. It’s enough to confuse anyone. In 1918, at the end of the First World War, a referendum was held here in which 96% of
voters voted to leave Germany and become part of
Switzerland. But the resulting negotiations came to a halt when Switzerland wasn’t able to offer Germany
anything suitable in return. So Büsingen remained German, and the people ended up just kind of pretending
to be Swiss instead. The local German authorities even organise
a festival every summer on Swiss National Day. Imagine politicians distracting people with
flags and festivals because they couldn’t deliver on the promises
they made in a ref oh look it’s an alpaca! If you’d like to visit confusing Büsingen, and maybe even have drink so you can say you’ve
been boozing in Büsingen, it’s a short bus ride from Schaffhausen
and a ticket costs about 5 Francs. Despite what Google maps says, there’s no
railway station here, turns out it’s just two old railway cars
in a field and some camels. Within the exclave there’s a marked trail which gives you a tour of all the sights with panels to tell you the story behind them. I didn’t walk the whole route, but from what I saw it’s fairly flat and
should be accessible for most people, although for the panels, it will help if you can read German, I guess. Anyway, here’s some more alpacas, thanks
for watching and I’ll see you soon.

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100 Comments

  • Reply borstenpinsel February 26, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    I haven't watched all your videos yet (shame on me) so no idea if you've been there already, but there is a town on both sides of the US/Canada border and there it is not so easy to cross the road. You.actually have to walk down the road to an official border crossing, get your passport viewed and stamped and then walk back on the other side of the road

  • Reply SueTownream February 26, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Very nice! I work in Schaffhausen and know Büsingen very well. You did an excellent job with your video. Very nice fun facts exist about Büsingen. For instance, the phone numbers were reachable with a german and swiss area code. And they have still two postal zip codes, one for Germany and one for Switzerland.

  • Reply Ilan Smolders February 26, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Closed captions please. Oui, danke and bedankt, tot ziens

  • Reply Rob Davy February 26, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Keep them coming!
    I made a point to visit the weird railway line pieces of Belgium in Germany because of one of your videos!

  • Reply ThreeRunHomer February 26, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    Schaffhausen looks gorgeous.

  • Reply Robert Jones February 26, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    "Distracting people with flags and festivals", I could remotely guess what you are eluding to there, good gag 🙂

  • Reply Frost Nacht February 26, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    You were in my area and I didn't get the notice?

  • Reply Paul C February 26, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    So what happens when I buy a house there?

  • Reply Angustin February 26, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    "… in protestant switzerland." Don't let the pontifical guard hear that.

  • Reply Steampilot February 26, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    Grüezi
    Freut mi di bi üs zbegrüesse.
    Hi and welcome to switzerland.

  • Reply fghjkyy hy February 26, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    There are places some what like that here in the US.

  • Reply MrFlyingguy February 26, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    i keep coming back out of curiosity and it pays well each time…… Danke

  • Reply Harald Grundetjern February 26, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    Will Campione d'Italia and Llívia be videos that we can except soon then

  • Reply ricohallo22 February 26, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    The fact that you actually went to "Bahnhof Büsingen"… 😂😂😂

  • Reply Leuchtekulli February 26, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    Will there also be a video about the lake of constance (Bodensee)?
    Maybe one about the Pfahlbauten or why Liechtenstein is Part of the Vierländerregion Bodensee. Or why the lake belongs to Germany Austria and switzerland.

  • Reply Aragon Tigerseye February 26, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    Huh.. Your German sounds rather passable / workable… And now you got me wondering just how many languages you actually speak / understand (well enough to get around at least).

  • Reply palantir135 February 26, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    You must visit the Belgium enclaves in the Netherlands. It is in and around Baarle Hertog/Baarle Nassau. The border often goes through houses. In a restaurant, in the evening, everybody has to go to one side of the restaurant due to different closing schemes.

  • Reply Jimbo McHooch February 26, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    I loved the alpaca…… but what was this video about?

  • Reply Geography World February 26, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    Vorarlberg in Austria also had a referendum to join Switzerland after the First World War but it didn't happen.

  • Reply Steampilot February 26, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    Woman: yes for the most part German. Man: No, most part Swiss, Woman: No, right? Man: Swissgerman(language) but belonging now to Swiss(country).
    So its fair to say that even the Swiss German Swissgerman are confused.

  • Reply olipito February 26, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    More of Switzerland!

  • Reply Manny Calavera February 26, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    Nice German there Tim! Respect.

  • Reply 57thorns February 26, 2020 at 6:12 pm

    There is one way that Büsingen is more German than Swiss: Look at Google maps street view, there is none in Büsingen.

  • Reply BlueHazard February 26, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    I've heard of that place before. I wonder if the people are taxed in CHF or €.

  • Reply Sören Lampe February 26, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    im from switzerland and didn‘t even know we have this town lol

  • Reply NAME NAMENAME February 26, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    Ich wusste gar nicht, dass du deutsch sprechen kannst. Aber deine ziemlich gute Aussprache von einzelnen deutschen Wörtern hätte das schon vermuten lassen können.

  • Reply Maksim Minkov February 26, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    Your videos are great! Keep them coming

  • Reply Janis Nyhus February 26, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    You probably did the "Grüezi" better than most Germans do

  • Reply Heinz Kessler February 26, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    In the Swiss town of Basel, there's a German railway station ("Badischer Bahnhof"). And when I was a child and lived in Lörrach near the Swiss border, The "6" tram line from Basel/Switzerland went to the city centre of Lörrach/Germany.
    It's nice to see how countries cooperate so peacefully. In other parts of the world they would fight wars for it.

  • Reply P Visser February 26, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    My compliments on your German

  • Reply Original Wolf February 26, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    Your German is quite good.

  • Reply huswsimonbla February 26, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    Did you guys see that hate crime towards the end? The white alpaca got all dem treats and the alpaca of color got none!1!

  • Reply Come Walk With Me February 26, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    It must take some serious digging to find these interesting places. 😀

  • Reply Matthew Trzcinski February 26, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    Alpacas are always a good distraction

  • Reply Robert Jones February 26, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Another thoroughly enjoyable vid! 🙂 Thx!

  • Reply Frog February 26, 2020 at 6:48 pm

    Wait till you find baarle nassau (of have you already? then forgive my ignorance.)

  • Reply German Road Stories February 26, 2020 at 6:48 pm

    Your Deutsch ist very gut 👍

  • Reply Tom Dyer February 26, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    * Incoming Brexit reference *
    Oh look, an alpaca!
    * Distracted! *

  • Reply Avery the Cuban-American February 26, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    Reminds me of Longwa village along the Myanmar India border. The border goes straight through houses, residents are citizens of both countries

  • Reply Russell Gowers February 26, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    I didn’t listen to a single thing you said about the Thurm fella because I was trying to work out whether or not you were playing the Family Fortunes theme in the background

  • Reply Colin Harrison February 26, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    Great!! I just love your work. 👍 Please keep it going.

  • Reply cjeam February 26, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    In September of 2019 my father and I cycled along the Rhine and we were very amused by this quirk and I was very excited when I realised it was an exclave! We didn’t know that much of the history, just the basics on wikipedia. I think that was the day we made about 7 crossings of the border too, most of which were only visible on the map, and we became very befuddled trying to pay for things with the wrong currency.

  • Reply Rob Norris February 26, 2020 at 7:07 pm

    Tim almost started another international incident in that restaurant there. Good thing he didn’t ask about who’s catholic.

  • Reply turbo1431 February 26, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    Confusing Büsingen.
    Did you mean: Confüsingen?

  • Reply Gou Karuma February 26, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    Why do you sound so different when you speak german?

  • Reply Nynke K February 26, 2020 at 7:23 pm

    Now there's a simple exclave with a simple history! Kind of… (Also, funny how you asked that German question in a rather French way, introducing the topic first 🙂 )

  • Reply Der Auditor February 26, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    Wow! Your German is good. How many Languages does he speak?

  • Reply Retro Tech Ralph February 26, 2020 at 7:38 pm

    Brilliant

  • Reply Jeremy0459 February 26, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Should've called this video, "Confusing in Busingen."

  • Reply Vulpiq February 26, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    From wikipedia:
    "During the Second World War, Switzerland effectively shut down the border, leaving Büsingen cut off from the rest of the Third Reich. German soldiers on home leave were required to deposit their weapons at the border guards' posts in Gailingen am Hochrhein. The Swiss customs officers would then supply them with greatcoats to cover up their German uniforms for the duration of their short journey through Dörflingen (Swiss territory) to their homes in Büsingen."

  • Reply 100 Centurion February 26, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    I have watched every video ( and liked them) , and loved all of them.

  • Reply Bernd Hoffmann February 26, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    Dein Deutsch ist super! 4:24 omfgj

  • Reply Tom Geller February 26, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    A fun little side note for those of us playing at home: Switzerland permits Google Street View, but German law prohibits it. So from your armchair you can "walk" up to the border from the Swiss side, but then you can only peek in from outside. You can't "walk" around the town itself.

  • Reply Rayhid1956 February 26, 2020 at 7:56 pm

    Hell yeah! I would love to go boozing in Büsingen too.

  • Reply Jonathan H February 26, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    4:22, actual lol'd! Thanks! 😀
    Another great video thanks. 🙂

  • Reply Moritz L February 26, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    omg omg you're on the German-Swiss border (<30km from where I live wow). You're probably somewhere else by now, but the region's railways are rather interesting. Basel's 2nd most important station, Basel Badischer Bahnhof is actually managed by DB (German railways) and is within the German customs zone despite being on Swiss territory. A bunch of stations in Schaffhausen are also managed by DB. Conversely, Jestetten and Lottstetten stations are managed by SBB despite being in Germany, the former station is popular with people from Zurich as that's the quickest place to get cheap food.

  • Reply Giorgio Bottura February 26, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Interesting video. Well done 🙂

  • Reply Sebastian Schön February 26, 2020 at 8:10 pm

    Great Video!

  • Reply Samuel Bernofsky February 26, 2020 at 8:14 pm

    Keep it coming Tim, love your videos!

  • Reply carefulcliffdriver February 26, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    "imagine politicians distracting people with flags and festivals because they couldn't deliver on promises made in a referendum' …. sneaky tim, I see what you did there!

  • Reply Bruno Bastos February 26, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    it come allways with family problems, butt is this things that make europe beautifull

  • Reply Richard Davis February 26, 2020 at 8:37 pm

    Another great informative video love it

  • Reply rfactormo February 26, 2020 at 8:47 pm

    I used to live there, so it is pretty crazy to see it randomly in my feed 😀 Two more fun facts:

     – It is the smallest german county to have its own number plate (the one you have seen in the video). The "A" after "BÜS" could technically be anything else, yet as there are so few people who ever registered a car, the possible combination of numbers afterwards is more than enough to keep up with the demand. I never saw anything else than BÜS "A".

      – This little town used to have a proper university! It was a private, christian college that took advantage of the weird tax situation. Used to hang around the campus as a child, it was small, yet exciting place with dorms and everything, and of course international people.

  • Reply Matthias Andrews February 26, 2020 at 8:48 pm

    I would like to add that one incredibly subtle way of knowing whether you’re in Büsingen or Schaffhausen is to just look at the ground: if the roads have yellow bike lanes, you’re in Schaffhausen, but if they’re white, then you’re in Büsingen. There’s even a road where the border goes straight through the middle for a portion, making it the only place in Europe (that I’m aware of) where the same stretch of road has different coloured bike lane stripes on either side… although that particular road rarely if ever has any cars on it, so you can cycle exactly in the middle for a few hundred metres with your arms stretched out, each one in a different country. 🙂

  • Reply Way to Sacramento February 26, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    Funny, I am traveling between Schaffhausen and my hotel in Gailingen (which is so much cheaper than in Schaffhausen) in these days during a project every week…

  • Reply Otto Von Bismarck February 26, 2020 at 8:59 pm

    This place has nothing on baarle heertog ( or however it’s spelt)

  • Reply Girtablulu February 26, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    they say at 3:55 we are German but belong as well to Switzerland

  • Reply point point February 26, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    Really liked your vid about Alpaca's you should do it more often.

  • Reply Marcomanseckisax February 26, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    In fact, most of German Hochrhein speaks Schwyzerdüütsch and no real German (like me) knows by ear that they are "German". I'm very surprised at the lady (the Wirtin) not accepting Euros, because the Swiss are generally pretty liberal about that (in my experience) but there you are, it's a matter for individual discretion. But as you were actually IN GERMANY, I imagine her insistence on Francs (CHF) was illegal. At different points in history, the Swiss have bungled treaty accessions with Konstanz (which is geographically IN SWITZERLAND and is a BIG WEALTHY CITY), Büsingen and most notoriously the Austrian state of Vorarlberg which like Büsingen (and at the same time) voted to become Swiss. But the president of the Swiss parliament probebly had to go to the toilet at the crucial moment, then forgot to retable the vote (or something like that).

  • Reply Marty McFly February 26, 2020 at 9:14 pm

    If you want to do confusing border stuff, how about a tunnel that belongs to Germany but goes through Switzerland to connect the German cities of Loerrach and Weil am Rhein? Or the fact that Basel Airport is in France and has a French and Swiss Airport code (BSL/MLH).

  • Reply Sievert Schreiber February 26, 2020 at 9:22 pm

    I really like the historic facts! Even when u only show the wiki page.

  • Reply The Great Steve February 26, 2020 at 9:24 pm

    The world needs a flag in disarray reporting app.

  • Reply mikosoft February 26, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    Du spricht sehr gut Deutsch!

  • Reply Vea Pfirter February 26, 2020 at 9:33 pm

    I work in Laufenburg, Switzerland and just minutes of walk you'll be in Laufenburg, Germany. I really like the place here specially on Summer, you'll feel like you're living during the Medieval Era.

  • Reply hairslikeabirdnest February 26, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    Dude I'm Swiss and I didnt even know that

  • Reply Andrew Spencer February 26, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    Good use of the "Get Your Own Back" music!

  • Reply In the beginning the Universe was created. This angered lots of people and is regarded as a bad move February 26, 2020 at 9:35 pm

    Tom Scott: video about a bridge which is in two countries at the same time
    (time passes)

    The Tim Traveller: well, it's not a competition… but here is a video about a village in two countries at the same time

  • Reply David Beddard February 26, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    I love the musical jokes but it drives me nuts when I can't identify the piece! 🤣

  • Reply Aditya Aserkar February 26, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    Super! I was at Basel a while ago and there too Germany, Swiss and France meet. Its super interesting to keep walking between countries!

  • Reply Mauricio Rosario February 26, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    No Brasil temos um lugar assim chamado Chuí.

  • Reply Ev Delen February 26, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    Should go and visit Stanstead, Quebec, Canada, or is it Stanstead, Vermont, USA

  • Reply Utetopia February 26, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    Alpaca my bags an head off now!!

  • Reply watson956 February 26, 2020 at 10:04 pm

    Is it wrong to 'like' a video just when the host says, "Helloooo!" ?? 4:27 Oh, look! It's an alpaca!!!

  • Reply Thomas February 26, 2020 at 10:11 pm

    check if they can say Chuchichästli to be sure they're 100% swiss

  • Reply RealityCheck February 26, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    Another added to my favourites playlist!

  • Reply Jörg Lippmann February 26, 2020 at 10:27 pm

    I'd like to learn for about the places from the intro. Is it the Dead Sea? And what else?

  • Reply Stevie The Fool February 26, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    Damn Tim, if you posted this just half a year earlier, i could have visited it, i was just around the corner, at Schluchsee for vacation.

    Fun fact, they run an old steamtrain over the tracks there every weekend

  • Reply Loeffel February 26, 2020 at 10:40 pm

    Er spricht deutsch. Huiuiui das ist mal was neues.

  • Reply Ni40 February 26, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    I feel like that "huh, that's weird" was a tom scott reference

  • Reply Callie Masters February 26, 2020 at 11:17 pm

    Have you done Campione d'Italia to continue the Swiss exclaves?

  • Reply J R February 26, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    I'm so glad i was here from the beginning! This is by far the best channel when it comes to random interesting information. And i love that stuff! It's actually my niche!! Haha thanks Tim! Keep up the great work! I'm thoroughly entertained every video! Please don't stop!

  • Reply Andrew Phillips February 26, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    Someone needs to replace the Swiss flag (the one at the start of the video).

  • Reply Trevski February 26, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    Germany has some weird borders. There's also the bit of land in Belgium that you also covered. Where next? I went to Google maps to look around the entire border if I could see some more weird borders for Germany. There is also a random bit in Germany that Austria own around Jungholz, can that be your next visit?

  • Reply iNeverCouldGetTheHangOfThursdays February 27, 2020 at 12:29 am

    Where is Büsingen's highest point?

  • Reply Alex S. February 27, 2020 at 12:36 am

    My wife and I really enjoy your videos. Keep up the great work!

  • Reply rparker069 February 27, 2020 at 12:48 am

    damn, what a nice alpaca

  • Reply Christoph Rackwitz February 27, 2020 at 1:13 am

    konfüsingen

  • Reply chip worrell February 27, 2020 at 2:23 am

    I'm to the point I just hit the like button when any of Tim's videos start. Still, be better if he hadn't left Francis at home.

  • Reply Ro Herms February 27, 2020 at 2:56 am

    Oh look, a Tim video… 😉 Loved the ending mate.

  • Reply speeedskater February 27, 2020 at 2:59 am

    boozing in Büsingen, ha,ha,ha

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