The abandoned ghost town Doel is situated next to the Antwerp Port close to the border of the Netherlands. This little Belgian village was once home to bustling locals in the seventies, now reduced to a merely 20 of left over residents. Now for those only with a inquisitiveness to explore a deserted, desolate neighbourhood. The neighbourhood will one day disappear, so we put on our shoes to explore this dark tourism urbex location.
History Of Doel: Why It Is Abandoned?
When expansion plans were put in place to expand the village of Doel as part of the port of Antwerp, this was the start of the problem. The port needed more space and Doel was inconveniently in the way of those plans, making it a target for demolition. This in combination of the nuclear power plant that was built close by.
The government had issued official dates for demolition many times, with the residents fighting against this (and winning). Other residents of Doel decided to take a ‘voluntary payout’. This allowed them to leave with a good value of their property to find a new home. Unless they had chosen to stay. Squatters who had taken over any abandoned houses in 2006 were removed, which is why now many if not all houses are boarded up.
The government still stands strong with the demolition plans of Doel to expand the Antwerp Port, which is something likely to happen once the last residents finally move on. These plans to demolish Doel will mean this once busy little section of land will become literally underwater.
What Can You Find At The Abandoned Ghost Town Doel?
When arriving in Doel, you will see straight away that it is hard to enter with a car. So the best way is to park up and walk into the town. Don’t leave any valuables in the car showing, it is after all parked in a location that is known for break-ins.
What do you think you can find at an abandoned ghost town? Empty boarded up houses and restaurants thats for sure. This small neighbourhood village was once a lively industrial city in the 1960s. The village had up to 1300 inhabitants, compared to the last 20 residents who are left.
Street art is one of the main reasons to visit. Doel is an abandoned artistic paradise where one can show off their work. Even some residents encouraged local and worldwide street artists to visit Doel, in an attempt to create an open-air gallery.
There are often police patrolling here too, as it is illegal to enter the closed buildings. They also want to discourage any new squatters from trying to stay here. Unfortunately to also stop any drug addicts or vandals who are up to no good.
What you can also find at the abandoned ghost town Doel is a café, a former favourite spot for the nuclear power plant workers. Though when you visit today, you will likely only find other tourists and curious sightseers.
What Should You Do When Visiting The Abandoned Ghost Town Doel?
For starters, be respectful. There are still at least 20 residents choosing to live in the village, to which I’m sure they would not like their homes intruded or photo taken. However as it is their choice to live in this desolate village, I can imagine they have somewhat accepted how curious travellers and photographers like us can find it interesting to visit.
Secondly, enjoy the artwork! Doel is primarily known now for it’s graffiti and street art design seen on the abandoned houses. Street art from Resto and ROA can be seen here.
Thirdly, take photos of course. It feels weird to walk around the abandoned ghost town, but you can create some awesome photos for those who love photography. We visited during the summer, but can imagine that different seasons like in winter can make your photos more eerie looking.
Summary Of Our Visit To The Abandoned Ghost Town Doel
It sure was eerie to walk around a village that is completely boarded up.We enjoyed the quiet walk between the houses and alleyways, searching for the larger graffiti art. However we visited on a Tuesday and it was actually rather busy with other curious tourists and photographers. Plus a few teenagers just hanging around, but you get that everywhere!
We think it was worth the visit, just to imagine what the residents of Doel have been through. As well as what the current and last residents are still going through. We didn’t speak to any locals, but it is obvious walking around which houses are still occupied.
- We drove straight into Doel following plenty of others who parked near the windmill at the end of the street. However others have visited when the barrier is up so park somewhere suitable.
- Take your time to walk every street
- Respect the last remaining residents
- Don’t enter or break into any buildings
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Have you visited Doel in Belgium before or thinking of going? We’d love to hear what you thought!