Located between Istanbul and Ankara are hundreds of gothic-style castle villas that sit abandoned and unfinished, out of place in the Turkish hillside. The housing development is called Burj Al Babas, and construction on the fairytale complex began in 2014. After years of construction and financial turmoil, the entire complex now sits eerily quiet, waiting for the day that it might be completed.
Inspired by French architecture
The development is home to some 587 of the 732 planned buildings with French-inspired architectural features that make them look like identical mini-castles. These include round turrets, ornate façades, and Juliet balconies. Each building could be straight out of a Disney fairytale, with pointed dark roofs and light exteriors. That was the intent of the Sarot Group, which hoped that the development would attract wealthy investors to purchase these properties as luxury vacation homes. The development was also going to feature to movie theaters, sports facilities, shopping centers, and Turkish baths.
The project was supported by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who believed that the infrastructure jobs and the real estate sales generated by the new development would result in an economic boom for the country. Unfortunately, the weakening of the Turkish lira made it extremely difficult for businesses to repay foreign debts, and large construction projects like Burj Al Babas took a major hit.
The developers went bankrupt
In 2018, the Sarot Group was forced to declare bankruptcy after only four years of construction. Up to this point, the project had already cost a whopping $200 million to develop, without all of the buildings even completed yet. The intended cost of each property was going to be in the ballpark of $400,000 and $500,000, and a handful of properties did sell. However, once the company filed for bankruptcy, a sizeable chunk of those property sales was canceled.
The complex now sits abandoned
Now, the entire complex sits abandoned. Though most of the buildings themselves have been constructed, the interiors were left unfinished. In some rooms, it seems as though workers simply dropped their tools and walked off of the site, adding to the eeriness of the already creepy fairytale ghost town. Perhaps they believed they would be returning to finish the multi-million dollar project that they were so close to wrapping up.
Hopes for future development
The same year the Sarot Group declared bankruptcy, Turkey eased its financial criteria for foreigners to become citizens. This was partly in response to the weakening currency, but served as a hope to double the country’s annual property investments.
The Deputy Chair of the Sarot Group, Mezher Yerdelen, previously made a statement expressing his belief that the development could be finished and be quite successful. “We only need to sell 100 villas to pay off our debt. I believe we can get over this crisis in four to five months and partially inaugurate the project,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the castle villas seem to be waiting and longing for their own fairytale ending.