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!
Lindz10th November 2018 at 3:45 am
I just recently visited an abandoned site kind of like Doel here in Ontario, Canada. While it wasn’t nearly as extensive as this, it was SO eerily quiet. The street art looks incredible though – I didn’t know about it before but I’ll definitely be keeping it on my radar for the next time I’m in Belgium!
Togetherintransit14th November 2018 at 1:49 pm
Interesting to know! I love finding places like this to explore. I’m sure there are more in Belgium too!
Kat (Wandering Bird)10th November 2018 at 4:19 pm
Wow- that’s spooky!! Even the photos look kinda eerie. Never heard of this- will have to go check it out!!
Dagney10th November 2018 at 9:48 pm
What a fascinating place! I love Belgium, but I had no idea this existed. I love learning about places like this, though. Will be saving this for our next trip to Belgium. It will probably be awhile, so hopefully it isn’t submerged in water by then! After all, it would be tragic to destroy all that history and amazing street art! (My favourites are the married couple and the Robin Hood!)
Togetherintransit14th November 2018 at 1:42 pm
Thanks for commenting Dagney! We enjoyed the visit too and there is no official date for the changes …yet!
Jessica Carpenter10th November 2018 at 10:45 pm
Oh my gosh, I find this so incredibly fascinating! What is it about abandoned places that is so intriguing?!! I would love to visit. Wish I’d known about it when I was in Belgium. Any idea when they plan to destroy? What are the last residents waiting for??!
Togetherintransit14th November 2018 at 1:40 pm
Thanks for commenting Jessica, there has been negotiations to move the last residents for the last decade but they remove to leave their homes. So the plans to change the area still have no official date.
Daisy Li10th November 2018 at 11:27 pm
I love abandoned places, they always have such an air of mystery and is incredibly telling of a region’s history! My first one was at an abandoned hospital in Berlin and since become obsessed with visiting these hidden gems 🙂 Definitely have to come here
Togetherintransit14th November 2018 at 1:39 pm
Thanks for commenting Daisy! I’d love to visit some abandoned locations in Berlin in return!
Diana Becevello17th November 2018 at 2:31 am
I love all of the graffiti – it adds to the charm
Ivan Schiavone9th July 2019 at 12:35 am
is it still possbile to go there?
Togetherintransit9th July 2019 at 7:15 pm
As far as we are aware, yes you can still visit Doel and the abandoned area is still walkable!