Hundreds of Disney style palaces lay in ruin in Turkey

It’s every little princess’s dream and an environmentalist’s nightmare: a little palace for everyone. Well some developer in Turkey had their own dream and build a complete suburb of hundreds of palaces, Disney-style, that now lay abandoned in what’s more like a ghost town nightmare. Drone footage and Google Earth reveal the extent of the “vision” and failure of what happens when people from other cultures try to replicate the western ideal.

The homes were intended for ultra-rich vacationers from the Gulf region.

The western ideal of living in a McMansion has already been shown to be an environmental nightmare. Yet Turkish developers somehow thought this was a fantastic idea. Drone footage shows an eerie ghost town of mini castles. It sheds some light of Turkey’s shift in values to the west, while being steeped in economic woes.

Burj al Babas palace turkey

The “luxury” housing development called Burj al Babas, near Mudurnu, a village roughly halfway between Istanbul and Ankara, was left abandoned last year after developers Sarot Property Group went bankrupt.

Costing about $200 million to build, the future of the 300 chateaux-style palaces is uncertain. The idea started in 2014 and the houses would be holiday homes for ultra-rich Gulf tourists, who seem to love extravagance at almost any cost.

Burj al Babas turkey

But at a price of about $500,000 each, only a handful of the Disney-style homes were ever sold, however, and investors pulled out. There were 732 planned buildings, yet 587 were completed, according to the Guardian.

The locals in the Mudurnu region are reported to have hated the project as it did not keep with local Byzantine building traditions, their Ottoman wooden houses and a 600-year-old mosque.

A finished building at Burj al Babas, holiday resort

Just after this project got the green light the Turkish Government has since introduced new building regulations designed to preserve local character and heritage.

It may be too late to undo some of the damage, said Yaşar Adnan Adanalı, an Istanbul-based urban development researcher: “I worry that projects like Burj al Babas opened Pandora’s box, in some respects,” he said. “Developments without proper planning that do not contextualise the geography and history of their surroundings have exploded in Turkey since.”

Village of Mudurnu

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has encouraged a construction boom during his time in office, even allowing foreigners to now buy Turkish homes and property.

But the weakening Turkish lira has left many building companies struggling to pay off their debts in foreign currencies.

Still, the Sarot Group is hopes that Gulf investors aiming to eventually acquire Turkish passports will swoop in and buy into Burj al Babas.

Mudurnu palaces Burj al Babas

“We only need to sell 100 villas to pay off our debt,” a developer told the Guardian. “I believe we can get over this crisis in four to five months and partially inaugurate the project in 2019.”

We have a better idea: get funding and give these homes to Syrian refugees. Maybe they can turn them into something better than a summer getaway home for the rich and vulgar.

While the company website is mostly not functioning (see here), we did manage to find some less than appealing interior and exterior shots they have offered for marketing purposes. A couch full of light switch fixtures. A salon full of dust. Not from our fantasies in any sort of way. We’d rather stay in a yurt. What about you? After these images see the ones that they hoped would attract investors.

Burj Al Bankruptcy


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