April 19, 2017

"Doel: the ghost town that's a paradise for graffiti artists"

Pictures by Pol De Witte

How did a 400-year-old Belgian village now threatened with demolition become a magnet for the world's best street artists? Doel's last 25 residents explain why they're fighting for their extraordinary town 

"It's noon in a cafe in a small Belgian town. People are eating sandwiches, popping in for a chat or to read the paper. So far, so normal. But the view from the window tells a different story. The cafe overlooks a square full of boarded-up shops and homes. Graffiti covers almost every available surface, including a forlorn children's playground. In the neighbouring streets, row upon row of vacant and abandoned houses are covered in eye-poppingly colourful doodles or large murals by street artists. To add to the dystopian feel of the place, every so often a large pile of rubble shows the spot where a house once stood, and the giant smoke-billowing cooling towers of Belgium's first commercial nuclear-power station loom on one side......"


  1. Excellent post, with which I closely identify. In 1989, I voted on a referendum to shut down the Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant located 30 miles from my city, the capital of California. The vote came after 2 decades of dangerous events at the facility followed by misinformation from the utility district. Cover-ups. Decommissioning Rancho Seco has so far consumed 28 years. The village in your post has become a ghost-town, but the twin cooling towers will someday furnish a far more sinister remnant of a brash and foolish enterprise. I hope it will be shut down and the village will someday revive. Following on GFC.