The eternal judgment faced by the world’s most evil suburban real estate developers is for their ghosts to be condemned forevermore to live in Burj Al Babas—their restless souls strolling through a Turkish valley filled with a hypnotizing collection of abandoned McMansion mini-castles.
If this is your first time hearing of this bizarre netherworld, Architectural Digest has provided a good primer on its history. The village of 732 empty little castles now called Burj Al Babas was created by the Yerdelens, a pair of real estate business-brothers from a firm called Sarot Group who years ago dreamed of attracting wealthy buyers to a makeshift feudal European dreamscape near the Black Sea.
Their idea was to attract rich Gulf country buyers who wanted to “enjoy the Mediterranean climate on Gothic-style rooftop terraces overlooking the lush Turkish forest” from Burj Al Babas’ location near “the Roman spa town of Mudurnu.”
The project was well underway when the Turkish economy faltered following 2016's attempted coup and the national chaos that followed. The COVID pandemic arrived, and “investors and buyers pulled their money out of the $200 million project.” Eventually, “the developers were forced to declare bankruptcy.” Now the castles, which were planned to come complete with “under-floor heating and Jacuzzis on every level,” have been left in permanent limbo. The landscaping work was never finished and the site is “now littered with abandoned construction materials” and filled with “partially completed castles.”
Now Burj Al Babas, with its seemingly endless rows of nearly identical little castles, stands as a warning to all other real estate developers whose ambitions of goofy rich guy castles bring them too close to the sun. “Do not try to create this kind of suburban story book hell,” the tormented spirits of the valley wail each night. “The only thing that awaits you down that path is ruin! And lots of wasted plywood!”
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