Doel – A ghost town left to decay

A complicated history

Doel was founded in 1613 and hosted at its best over 2500 inhabitants in the 1800’s and was actually touristy at that time, but for completely different reasons. Doel was known to be a lovely, lively village where those living in Antwerp would go to escape town for the day, but times have changed. The village is now considered to be one of the most vulnerable sites in Europe due to the proximity of nuclear plants.

The village now counts just over a dozen inhabitants. It has been gradually abandoned since 2000 to make space for the project of harbor expansion. Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe and counts on keeping this competitiveness running and growing. The activity is not growing as fast as planned. In fact, the previous extension is not yet exploited to its full extent.

Will this mean they will not be needing to take over Doel after all? Or simply not as quickly as they had thought? The residents were bought out by the government and some said to be forced to leave their homes. However, a few have stubbornly remained.

Doel – The abandoned village that calls for urban exploration

This town is now reputed to be a ghost town and attracts tourists for its street art and urban adventure. It has a weird photogenic character and is a curiosity worth exploring.

Few houses are lived in whilst others are completely closed up with metallic plates and do not leave any possibility for entry. It is forbidden to break in or enter any of the buildings. Although you can very well see that some have tried, I would say that recently not many have succeeded.

You can explore the gardens, walk around the properties, take original pictures and dare your own urban exploration experience!

There is some awesome street art to check out. In 2007 the village made an attempt to develop its attraction and invited a handful of well-known street artists such as ROA, Luc Tuymans, Steve Locatelli, Pso Man. The objective was to transform the village of Doel into an open-air art exhibition. Unfortunately, this did not only attract positive visits but some problems along with it. The recent addition of metallic plates to keep urban explorers, squatters, and unwanted parties out of the abandoned buildings has ruined some of the street art.

Has Doel been left for dead or will it be making its come back? It sure seems like a significant challenge to bring this village back to life.

Until this question is answered by time, the ghost town makes not a sound. And the villagers are left living in decay.