Inside a $200 million ghost town in Turkey filled with castles reminiscent of Disneyland — minus all the people

Inside a 0 million ghost town in Turkey filled with castles reminiscent of Disneyland — minus all the people
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Near the small town of Mudurnu, Turkey, hundreds of castles sit abandoned.
Near the small town of Mudurnu, Turkey, hundreds of castles are abandoned.

  • The Burj Al Babas is an abandoned ghost town in Turkey filled with Disneyland-like castles.
  • Construction of the luxury community began in 2014 and cost $200 million.
  • When Turkey’s economy fell, the project halted. Today, 587 castles remain empty.

A town of castles called the Burj Al Babas in northwest Turkey was originally designed to draw foreign vacationers.

After more than 500 were built and $200 million was invested in the property, Turkey’s economy fell, and so did the Burj Al Babas, The New York Times reported. 

Today, 587 villas sit empty, forming a ghost town, Yes Theory reported. Take a look inside. 

Near the small town of Mudurnu in Turkey’s northwest region sits Burj Al Babas, a ghost town filled with castles.
Turkey's Abandoned 'Castle' Community  Burj Al Babas
Hundreds of castles fill the small village.

Today, there are more than 500 vacant identical homes, Yes Theory reported. Their blue-gray steeples and Gothic fixtures call to mind the castles found in Disney parks.
Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

But the property lacks Disneyland’s crowds. Instead, the more than 500 villas sit empty, and Burj Al Babas stands as a symbol of the nation’s economic plight.
Turkey's Abandoned 'Castle' Community  Burj Al Babas
A shot of the hundreds of abandoned villas.

The project got its start in 2014 when the Yerdelen brothers and Bulent Yilmaz, construction entrepreneurs from Istanbul, Turkey, drafted plans for a $200 million luxury community, The New York Times reported.
Turkey's Abandoned 'Castle' Community  Burj Al Babas
The Burj Al Babas project sits in Turkey’s northwest region.

When creating the design, the trio pulled inspiration from their home city. The buildings mimic Istanbul’s Galata Tower and Maiden’s Tower, as well as British and American architecture, Mezher Yerdelen told the Times in 2019.
The buildings were inspired by famous Istanbul buildings.
The buildings were inspired by famous Istanbul buildings.

They also picked a strategic location. Mudurnu is a Roman spa town, according to Condé Nast Traveller. So, the region’s nearby hot springs would fill hot tubs in every home and provide warmth for underfloor heating.
A red dot marks Mudurnu, Turkey.
A red dot marks Mudurnu, Turkey.

The original plan included 700 buildings that the group hoped would attract foreign buyers, who, according to the Times, vacation in Turkey for its Mediterranean climate.
Turkey's Abandoned 'Castle' Community  Burj Al Babas
A view of the hundreds of half-built villas.

The homes were sold for $370,000 to $500,000 each, depending on the location — a price tag that catered to a wealthier Middle Eastern clientele, according to the Times.
A row of partially built homes in the Burj Al Babas community.
A row of partially built homes in the Burj Al Babas community.

The group also planned for a shopping mall in the development’s center, along with gardens and lakes throughout the 250-acre property.
The designers had imagined lakes and gardens throughout the community.
The designers had imagined lakes and gardens throughout the community.

The project was initially successful. Of the 732 planned villas, about 350 were sold to customers from Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, Bloomberg reported.
Burj Al Babas 7
Each villa has a balcony and a classic castle-like roof.

As construction started in a valley outside Mudurnu, not everyone was happy with the project, the Times reported.
Construction halted on the development shortly after building began.
Construction halted on the development shortly after building began.

Some locals were frustrated that the castles strayed away from Mudurnu’s traditional Ottoman-style architecture, Condé Nast Traveller reported. Others worried that the development would damage nearby forests.
An overhead view of the partially completed development.
An overhead view of the partially completed development.

Then oil prices plunged. Potential buyers backed out of their agreements, and others stopped making payments on their future vacation homes, the project’s architect told the Times.
Turkey's Abandoned 'Castle' Community  Burj Al Babas
The abandoned villas create a grid-like pattern in the village.

That, coupled with Turkey’s soaring inflation, political turmoil, and an economic downturn led the developers to file for bankruptcy, placing the project at a standstill in 2018, Newsweek reported.
Burj Al Babas 6
An aerial view of the villas.

Source: Newsweek

What remained was 587 completed homes and $27 million in debt.
Burj Al Babas 5
Not a single villa was fully completed.

In 2019, the brothers were granted permission to complete the construction of the contracted houses when their bankruptcy ruling was overturned, according to the Hurriyet Daily News. Soon after, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the project again.
The buildings were only partially completed.
The buildings were only partially completed.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News

According to Atlas Obscura, the entire project was then acquired by NOVA Group Holdings, a multinational American corporation, which may attempt to salvage the development.
The buildings now sit empty.
The buildings now sit empty.

Source: Atlas Obscura

But for now, rows of abandoned, identical three-story castles remain, according to Yes Theory.
Burj Al Babas 4
The villas sit between Turkey’s mountains cape.

And since the property’s infrastructure was never completed, the development is currently unlivable, Condé Nast Traveller reported.
A view of the homes coated in snow.
A view of the homes coated in snow.

Today, the abandoned ghost town attracts curious visitors seeking to explore the eerie destination.
Turkey's Abandoned 'Castle' Community  Burj Al Babas
Each villa was designed with multiple balconies.

And the Burj Al Babas remains one of the world’s largest ghost towns.
Turkey's Abandoned 'Castle' Community  Burj Al Babas
A window frames the view of a villa.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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