The old cobblestone road

Nieuwstraat/Holz in around the late 1950s, viewed from Herzogenrath, Aachener Strasse (Kerkrade Municipal Archives)

There was already a paved road from Aachen towards Heerlen and Herzogenrath in ancient times. The paved road used to be called ‘Pont Steinweg’, the current Roermonder Strasse. It was then connected to a spacious roadway built over a completely new route between 1783 and 1794. This ran via Richterich-Kircheich-Pannesheide-Holz-Herzogenrath (Rolduc)-Ritzerfeld-Boscheln to Hünshoven near Geilenkirchen, where it joined the Aldenhoven-Puffendorf-Geilenkirchen-Sittard road, built in 1781. The new road was largely straight and paved with setts (cut stones in regular shapes) until just before Geilenkirchen. Paving was an unusual feature in this area at the time, so this road was also called a ‘stone road’ or ‘cobblestone road’.

Several manors were involved in the construction of this road. The Heyden manor was responsible for the part from the connection to the ‘Pont Steinweg’ at the Aachen border to Pannesheide. The abbey of Klosterrath (Rolduc) was responsible for the extension of the through road that passed over the former ‘s-Hertogenrode Estate. This was an approximately 12-km stretch of road that ran from Pannesheide via Herzogenrath to the border of the administrative area of Geilenkirchen. In May 1783, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II gave Rolduc Abbey permission to build new roads in the Rode Estate at its own expense. The last 2 to 3 kilometres before Geilenkirchen fell under the jurisdiction of the Duchy of Jülich. However, although developed as a paved road, this part was not actually paved. The new paved Aachen-Geilenkirchen road was therefore built through the rural village of Heyden and Klosterrath Abbey. It is remarkable that a spiritual institution carried out the road construction in the ‘s-Hertogenrode Estate at its own expense. P.J. Chaineux, abbot at the time, made a special effort to ensure the road was completed, and did an excellent job. The new roads in this area were intended to open additional markets for the numerous coal mines in Rolduc, Kerkrade, and the Heyden Estate, boosting the local economy.

During the Napoleonic period, this road was used intensively but poorly maintained. The road was probably not of great military importance to the French. Under provisional Prussian rule in 1814, road repairs were begun immediately.

The current German-Dutch border was determined during the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and in the Treaty of Aachen on 26 June 1816 with the Neustrasse/Nieuwstraat and the river Worm as a natural border. Herzogenrath and Kerkrade belonged to the Rode Estate until 1795, when they came under the rule of the French Empire until 1814. The division of the Rode Estate between the Netherlands and Prussia, which was decided at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, meant a new border had to be determined, and the separation of Herzogenrath and Kerkrade became definitive.

The paved road became Prussian territory.

(Source: Heimatblätter des Kreises Aachen/edition: Preußische Meilensteine im Aachener Raum, March 1993, Günter Marenberg)

The predominantly straight road layout had been depicted in the Tranchot maps of 1805-1807:

Sheet 76 Herzogenrath shows the section of Neustraße as “Pave d’Aix la Chapelle a Guelenkirchen” in the lower part of the map. This is the area from Kerkrade/Blijerheide via Kerkrade/Holz and Aachener Straße to the turn-off to Rolduc.

Excerpt Tranchot-Karte, Blatt 76

Sheet 86 Aachen shows the area Richterich towards Pannesheide as “Chaussee de Rolduc”.

The boundary stones along Neustraße can still be found in various places. Before the First World War and between the World Wars, it was the task of the mayors of Kerkrade and Herzogenrath to check the boundary stones.

Boundary stone 232A behind the EBC (Photo: Zweckverband Eurode)

Boundary stone 229 in Pannesheide/Roermonder Straße (Photo: Zweckverband Eurode) )
After the Second World War, the Netherlands considered annexing larger adjoining German territories. These territorial claims were rejected by the Allied High Commission, but minor border corrections were approved. These changes took place on 23 April 1949. In the border area between Kerkrade and Herzogenrath, this concerned the area between boundary stones 229 and 239. Between boundary stones 229 and 231, the Neustraße/Nieuwstraat was moved seven metres eastwards over a length of 1,600 metres in 1949. The street thus became Dutch territory. This border was finally confirmed by treaty in the German-Dutch Border Treaty of 8 April 1960. Since the 1993 Schengen Treaty, this border has been open.

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