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World: DOEL: In Belgium, a "ghost town" well decided to be reborn

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“It’s not a ghost town … Of course if you come here on Sundays, or especially in the evening, you see empty houses and that’s what gives rise to these types of comments,” a woman told AFP. resident, Liese Stuer. “It is very important that people know that we can still live here and come and settle,” she adds. As a child, she went there with her grandparents, who lived nearby, and she remembers the place as a popular destination to get some fresh air in the greenery. But Doel ’s fate took a turn for the worse at the end of the 1990s, when the Belgian authorities decided to expropriate and raze several

Doel 's last 25 residents explain why they' re fighting for their extraordinary town. Street art takes over the ghost town of Doel – in pictures. Of all the street art adorning Doel 's abandoned walls, it is the internationally famous Belgian muralist ROA's haunting oversized rat, crow, headless boar and upside-down rabbit that have become the village's most memorable. But other well -known street artists from Belgium , Holland and France have also left a trail of weird and wonderful cartoon-like figures – a moody mural of Barack Obama as the Joker by Amsterdam's Ives.One and some robot aliens by the

with its deserted streets and its walled facades, Doel, north of Antwerp, is the most famous "ghost town". But his a few inhabitants - 21 are now the hope of seeing their city to reborn.

It would be a spectacular turnaround for a place that empties regularly since the late 1970s, when its population was 60 times more important.

mostly known to host a nuclear power plant, isolated in the middle of the polled on the edge of the Scheldt, the small Flemish city of Doel has been the victim of an extension project of the gigantic port of Antwerp who pushed the inhabitants to flee ... but never saw the light of day.

Consequence: it has become a playground for graffitiors, as well as a kind of morbid attraction for curious tourists and "urban explorers" - fans of Urbex - coming filming in buildings in ruin of Small city of Belgium .

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Believe it or not, the town of Doel , located alongside the Scheldt river, only about 30 km away from the city of Antwerp, once counted almost 900 inhabitants living in its streets. Now they are … One of the ways of creating value for the town and attracting people was to make it a reference in street art, as you can see right now if you visit it. The combination of art and abandoned sites creates a special atmosphere that makes people want to go there. So in fact there is a really good opportunity for the city to make profit in the artistic sense, where art studios can be set up, and also restaurants and different

Doel has a reputation as Belgium 's best -known ' ghost town '. But its few inhabitants - today numbering just 21 - now see a glimmer of hope of their village bouncing back to life. Video: AFP. Rumble — Doel has a reputation as Belgium 's best -known ' ghost town '.

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"You can still live here"

Police patrol regularly to prevent vandalism and prevent the installation of squatters.

Only a church and two cafes - one backed by a 15th century mill - remind the visitors that the village is not completely deserted.

"It's not an ghost town ... Of course if you come here on Sunday, or especially in the evening, you see empty houses and that's what arouses this type of comment", explains to L AFP a resident, liese stuuter. "It's very important that people know that we can still live here and come settle down," she adds.

This 37-year-old woman, Dutch teacher for foreigners and independent graphic designer, settled five years ago in Doel where her spouse already lived. Child, she went there with her grandparents, who lived nearby, and she remembers the place like a destination ranked to become in the greenery.

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Doel has a reputation as Belgium 's best -known ' ghost town '. But its few inhabitants -- today numbering just 21 -- now see a glimmer of hope of their village bouncing back to life. You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

I'm a Canadian citizen visiting Belgium in July and I'm extremely interested in visiting Doel , but am uncertain as to whether or not any demolition has taken place or is likely to in the near future. I'm having difficulty finding any current information. 'Might be better to check it out sometime during the week when the weather is just alright, as it tends to be quite crowded on sunny sundays. Most of the houses are boarded up but some are pretty "open". You can get a quick glance inside but there's nothing really worth checking out IMHO.

But the destiny of DOEL ruled in the late 1990s, when the Belgian authorities decided to expropriate and shave several urbanized areas around the port of Antwerp - the second in Europe - to build a new container wharf .

If most people are gone, a handful of irreducible has remained and decided to challenge this project before the courts, while promoting the street-art to brighten the empty homes.

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"Scars of the past"

After a series of bonds in court, the victory is acquired in 2019 when the Flemish regional government confirms that the village can be kept.

Three years earlier, in 2016, the Belgian State Council had invalidated the port extension project, relying on a decision of the EU Court of Justice which emphasized the necessary preservation of swamps at the Edge of the Scheldt.

LESE STUER explains to have remained in Doel for nature, and for solidarity and links that have created between residents.

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Considering visiting the ghost town of Belgium ? What you need to know about the history of Doel and what it's like to visit Doel , Belgium . I’ve read a lot about Doel on different blogs, however people often refer to it as the abandoned Belgian town. Although there are abandoned buildings, this is far from true as the residents have fought tooth-and-nail to keep this town and some residents have stayed in Doel . As soon as you reach the gate to Doel , you’ll see a gate with an electric traffic zone blocking the entrance to limit access to the town to visitors.

"The green that we see here summer, it's really nice (...) This is where I want my child to grow up," continues the graphic designer. "And then I do not have the impression of being isolated, not at all, the atmosphere is very warm here".

In the form of the resurrection of the place, the discussions are continuing between authorities and inhabitants. In December, the municipality presented a plan to gradually host new inhabitants and to renovate an old boat stranded, while building a new wharf for the needs of port traffic.

"We know that the village will not disappear ... He actually the image of a ghost town, but it should not be", assures AFP Matthias Diependaele, Flemish Minister for Finance and the Real estate. The Flemish government is now owner of all the houses except one.

"The most difficult thing is that we know that right next door, there will be a 24-hour port activity and seven days a week," he adds.

At this point, no calendar has been stopped, it is only question of specifying in the weeks or months to come projects to revive Doel. "I really hope they will evolve in the direction of the return to a normal village, with its scars, of course ... they will always be visible, the scars of this recent past", loose liese stuuter.

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