In 2014, Sarot Group had an ambitious venture to create a fairytale resembling town filled with European-style chateaux and replenished with affluent amenities. They went as far as to build 587 of the total 732 castles but the project never saw its completion.
Burj Al Babas
Located in Mudurnu, in northwestern Turkey, between Istanbul and Ankara, Burj Al Babas was envisioned to be a Disney-esque, fairytale land covered in identical castles as far as the eye could see. A luxurious experience of living in chateaux for wealthy tourists visiting the country, with top-notch facilities one could imagine having – that was the ultimate goal of building Burj Al Babas.
Although the site is nothing short of a ‘ghost town’ now, eerie and abandoned as partially constructed structures lay desolate perpetually, Burj Al Babas was once heavily endorsed by the President of Turkey – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The site is spread across 300,000 square meters of land, each castle built on an area of 325 meters. The castles have identical designs with ‘three floors, a cylindrical turret and a dormer window’. Keeping the rich and the elite in mind, the Sarot Group had an extravagant plan arranged for its social facilities. The outdoor was supposed to have Turkish baths, pools, sauna, health, beauty and fitness centers, aqua and sports parks, etc., free of charge for its inhibitors. These facilities along with theaters, amusements parks, restaurants, conference halls, and much, much more were part of the Social Facility, built all under one roof as a ‘Complex’.
Each of these luxurious villas is estimated at an enormous rate ranging from USD 400,000 (INR ) to USD 500,000 (INR ). Over 500 castles were erected between 2014 to 2018, with over 300 sold who later canceled the deal.
“Some of the sales had to be canceled,” said Deputy Chair of the Sarot Property Group, Mezher Yerdelen.
Fairytale land to a ghost town
In the midst of construction, the Turkish economy plummeted along with its currency. The result was a massive blow to the builders of Burj Al Babas. Many buyers pulled out from the deal, with no prospect of new buyers. Sarot Group went bankrupt in 2018 after repeated failures of paying the loan. Since then, the Burj Al Babas is desolate.
Later in 2019, there were talks and hopes of resuming the work of Burj Al Babas. Mezher Yerdelen said, “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 in 2019.” And yet, over a year later, there has been no recorded progress in its construction.
Despite government backing, the property was hugely opposed by residents of Mudurnu from the beginning. They reasoned that building a Disney-style castle in a town filled with rich Ottoman architecture, history, and culture is a tarnish in itself.
Experience the Ghost town
Even in its abandoned state, Burj Al Babas is at the top of the list for tourists visiting Turkey. They frequent the site to visit the array of castles and explore. It is connected to the main road from Mudurnu, just a little on the outskirts.
This article is part of TFword’s Where In The World Series, find the previous article from the series below!