The luxurious village near the Black Sea, which includes 732 mini-castles, was never finished due to political unrest, financial problems and the pandemic

By Joelle Goldstein
April 29, 2021 07:48 PM
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Sarot Group's Burj Al Babas project in Turkey
Burj Al Babas village
| Credit: ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty

A once-luxurious village in Turkey with hundreds of Disney-like mini-castles has captivated people around the world — simply because not a single person lives there.

Back in 2014, Turkish real estate entrepreneurs, the Yerdelen brothers, started building a large village in the town of Mudurnu near the Black Sea, according to The New York Times.

Burj Al Babas, as the $200 million project became known, was expected to include more than 700 mini-castles and breathtaking views of the Turkish forest in an attempt to attract Arabs from the Gulf countries, the outlet reported.

But in the years following the start of construction, Turkey was hit with political turmoil, including a failed political coup and terrorist attacks, as well as economic problems and the recent coronavirus pandemic, according to the Times.

Sarot Group's Burj Al Babas project in Turkey
Burj Al Babas village
| Credit: ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty
Sarot Group's Burj Al Babas project in Turkey
Burj Al Babas
| Credit: Chris McGrath/Getty

With Turkey's economy coming into a decline, investors and buyers started pulling their money out of the project, leading the Yerdelen brothers to declare bankruptcy and abandon the village altogether eventually.

Today, the partially built villas, which appear to be something out of a Disney park, are still standing with their grey steeples, Gothic fixtures, turrets and rooftop terraces.

However, despite their dreamy, fairytale-like appearance, the castles are simply empty shells with no signs of life other than the abandoned construction material littered on the ground, the Times reported.

Burj Al Babas is now one of the world's largest ghost towns and continues to fascinate tourists, who are eager to explore the eerie site, according to Insider.

Sarot Group's Burj Al Babas project in Turkey
Burj Al Babas village
| Credit: Chris McGrath/Getty
Sarot Group's Burj Al Babas project in Turkey
Burj Al Babas
| Credit: Chris McGrath/Getty

In order to get their project off the ground, the Yerdelen brothers teamed up with their partner Bülent Yılmaz and started the development company, The Sarot Group, according to the Times.

They strategically chose to build in Mudurnu as the area was well-known for its hot springs and healing waters.

As part of their initial plan, the Sarot Group was going to bring in 2,500 workers, over a course of four years, to help build the luxurious homes.

The multi-story residents were expected to have under-floor heating and Jacuzzis on every level, in addition to flying buttresses, pointed arches and ribbed vaulting, the outlet reported.

Based on the home's location — which was expected to stretch over a million square meters or 250 acres — they could sell anywhere between $370,000 and $500,000, according to the Times.

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Buyers quickly invested in the project, buying 350 homes, and by 2018, half of the project's buildings had been constructed, according to the Times.

But then the unfortunate events in Turkey started to unfold. Things only got worse as the global pandemic swept through recently.

"Our sales dried up," Mezher Yerdelen told the Times in March 2019.

In addition to the villas, the group also had plans for a central shopping mall and landscaping phase of the project, including lakes and gardens.

Only a few gardens managed to receive attention before the abandonment of the project, according to the Times.