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The lost villages of Antwerp

Wilmarsdonk is a lost village north of the city of Antwerp. In the sixties, it was demolished to make way for the expansion of the port of Antwerp. In 1966, the last remnants of the village were cleared. Only the Gothic tower of the Church of St. Lawrence is still standing there today, right in the middle of the stored containers of the Antwerp harbor. Another saved monument from the village is the pillory of Wilmarsdonk, which was moved to a village nearby, Berendrecht. More about the pillory here.

Also, a small chapel from Wilmarsdonk was saved and moved to another location. She first got a new place in the port itself at quay 126, but not much later she was demolished and rebuilt stone by stone to yet another location. Since 1986, the little seamen prayer house is at the intersection of Elzasweg the Loodglansstraat at quay 60 in the port of Antwerp.

Pictures by Harry Fabel

Oosterweel is another vanished Belgian village north of the city of Antwerp. At the site of the former village, there are now the Antwerp oil docks. Before the demolishing Oosterweel was the lowest village in Belgium. In 1900, at its peak, there were 1075 people living there. The old church of Oosterweel, the St. John the Baptist Church, and a bridge is kept solely as a monument and are like the church of Wilmarsdonk right in the busy Antwerp harbor. The church was classified as a protected monument in 1994. More about the church of Oosterweel here.

The churches of both villages were not only kept as a monument but were also used by land surveyors as a guideline to determine the position of the newly build docks. Later the construction workers just left them there. Another two lost villages in Antwerp harbor are Lillo and Oorderen. In Lillo, only the old fort with a few houses, a small harbor, and a mill are still remaining. You can read more about the village here.

The village of Oorderen is completely gone, the only thing left is a barn that has been moved to the Bokrijk open-air museum for folklore about  100 kilometers away from its original build place. Also, the mill of Lillo has been moved a few kilometers away from its original place. You can read more about the mill here.

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