The Belgian town of Doel currently has a population of less than one hundred, and most of them could probably be considered squatters. While some parts of Europe - north Germany, for example - have a few of these ghost towns, Doel is a bit of a unique case, in that its status is not so much the result of a lack of employment, or other difficult-to-avoid scenarios, but the consequence of a long-running and controversial bit of political wrangling. While disputes over the expansion of the city of Antwerp's harbour have been ongoing, an expansion that would cut off Doel from the mainland and effectively make it unliveable, most of the residents have found a way to move out and move on. Some, though, remain, while plenty of newcomers have moved in, and they're slowly turning the town formerly known for its nuclear power station (which still dominates the skyline with its twin towers) into something a little bit special.
Since the trickle of departing residents became a downpour, artists from across Europe have joined the remaining residents, turning Doel into one huge artistic canvas. The demolition of the town has been on the government (or, if you've been following Belgian politics recently, something of a lack of government) since the 70s, and a 'final' protest was turned down in 1999. Even after the final protests, though, things keep dragging on, with the demolition ever 'imminent' but seemingly never actually arriving. What's replaced the town is largely graffiti, if a high-end version of it. An entire building is dominated by a black and white sniffing rat, for example, while other abandoned streets have abstract numbering taking over petrol stations, cartoon figures adorning the side of entire buildings, and the entire thing surrounded by a weird sense of the eerie; unsurprising given the abundance of abandoned houses and almost total lack of foot or vehicular traffic.
The town dates back more than 700 years, and contains a small array of historical buildings alongside the less-attractive, largely rented (and now empty) houses that make up the majority of the town. A recent visitor, and the producer of the below video, described the experience as "the most spooky place I have ever been; real shiver down the spine stuff". While it might not be a spot to travel to in its own right, if you happen to be in nearby Antwerp (or even Belgium in general - it's a small country), this could well add a really memorable, bizarre angle to your trip.
Here's a video taster, anyhow. It can be tough to keep track of Doel online, but we've been assured that as of now it's still standing. You might still have another thirty years to visit, but with residents served with their final notice more than two years ago, we suspect it won't be quite that long:
Photo by ardenswayoflife.