The twisted tale behind Turkey's deserted community of castles

A haunting abandoned kingdom

Stars Insider

02/09/19 | StarsInsider

TRAVEL Curiosity

Calling all aspiring kings, queens, princes, and princesses: your castle awaits! If you have half a million dollars and a lot of optimism, that is. 

In Turkey’s northwestern region lies a neighborhood of Disney-like miniature castles, fitted with steeples, grand balconies, multiple stories, and absolutely zero people. Laid out like a suburb, this dystopian kingdom of none nestled between dark forests has a deeply eerie feel to it. 

But it started out with lavish hopes and grand dreams. 

The Yerdelen brothers, construction entrepreneurs from Istanbul, were equipped with Turkey’s real estate boom when they started drawing up plans for what looks like a full-size Legoland display. They aimed high, pitching 700 castles, and felt confident in the natural draws of the lush land and Mediterranean climate. 

Imagined as a luxury community, they aimed to attract wealthy Arabs from the Gulf countries, even naming the development the Burj al-Babas Thermal Tourism Company to boost their appeal.

They broke ground in 2014, employing 2,500 workers and progressing quickly, with the goal of completing the project in just four years. Along the way, however, they were hit with various economic and political obstacles that ground this multimillion-dollar project to a halt. 

The chateaux-like villas now stand abandoned and unfinished, in what is quite the opposite of a fairy tale for their developers and investors. 

Check out the gallery to see some impressive photos of the haunting buildings, and learn more about what lies in store for the strange, self-contained suburb of empty dream homes. 


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