Doel, the Belgian ghost town

Doel is a village in the Belgian province of East Flanders and is situated on the left bank of the river Scheldt, near the Dutch border. The village remained an independent municipality with an area of 25.61 km ² until 1977, with approximately 1300 inhabitants (1972). However the population gradually declined and today only a handful of residents remain. Doel first received media attention in the 1960s when plans to extend the port of Antwerp were floated. In 1995, the expansion plans for the port of Antwerp were announced and the construction of the Deurganck-dock (ultimately inaugurated in 2005) raised questions about the viability of Doel. A bitter struggle for the survival of the village would last for several years. Unclear policies and legal blunders led to severe delays in the construction of a new dock and to uncertainty about expropriation and the right to live in Doel. Doel is currently a magnet for squatters, graffiti artists, vandals, photographers and disaster tourists who come to visit this Belgian ghost town. The demolition of the village and the subsequent loss of street art is still a topic of discussion in Belgian politics.

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