It's a weird feeling: walking down the streets of a modern town where just a few people lives. Doel once had a population of over one thousand people, today there are only 25 inhabitants left. The roads are still usable, many of the houses look habitable, but the rooms behind the windows are all empty. This is the abandoned village of Doel, a place that's described as a ghost-town.
Doel is an abandoned coastal village in Belgium, 20 miles north of Antwerp (45 minutes from my hometown and never ever visit this ghost town before), that has become home to famous street and graffiti artists. In the very near future, Doel, will only exist in pictures and memories. This village is scheduled to be completely destroyed to make room for an expanding harbor.
It's a surreal place, strewn with hundreds of abandoned buildings, including schools, petrol station and a now-silent town hall. Some houses still have furniture and toys lying around in rooms and gardens.
Against its will this place has become a tourist attraction, with photographers and tourists visiting every year.
You can't prepare for what you'll find in Doel because it's unimaginable that a place like this would exist. This isn't just an old ruin of an town that belongs in the history books, Doel is a modern town.
Most of the buildings are typical 20th century houses, some are beautiful examples of historical architecture. One of them, a carefully restored, white villa, was once home to the family of baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. It has been standing in the hart of Doel since 1612 and is now surrounded by abandoned buildings.
There are no shops to buy groceries, only a local pub with a few chairs and the picturesque windmill just outside the village is now a bar that opens at weekends for visitors who come by car. The only way to get to this village is by car or taxi.
You can visit this place every day of the week, no entrance. But there are street signs reminding visitors to Doel to respect the residents. It's not aloud to entrance the buildings, because it's to dangerous, these buildings are ruins.
There is police on the streets, so please don't try!
It’s a living art gallery the size of an entire village and street artists have come from all over the world to debut their works on these houses. A few buildings have remained free of graffiti, including the 11 homes still in private hands, the church and the cemetery.
Since the most of the people leave this place, artist have made their way in. The increasingly abandoned town became the perfect playground for street artists like; Roa. Roa is the pseudonym of a graffiti artist from Ghent. He has created works on the streets in Europe and Asia. He generally paints wild/urban animals and birds and most of the time in black and white.
Please visit this ghost town when you're in Antwerp, it's an amazing experience!
Google Maps Hotspot Doel