Turkey’s $200 Million Disney-Inspired Ghost Town

Burj Al Babas was a project aimed to create a thermal resort town to attract Arab investors. What’s left of it now is a ghost town of over 500 unfinished Disney castle-themed houses in central Turkey.

What you’ll find in this article

  • What is Burj Al Babas?
  • Why did the project fail?
  • A before and after comparison
  • Where is Burj Al Babas?
  • How to enter site?

I recently took a day trip to this place and had a very interesting day exploring the hundreds of abandoned chateau houses that stand on a vast plain, somewhere in the mountains between two of Turkey’s largest cities, Istanbul and Ankara.

Let’s explore Burj Al Babas Complex, one of the most bizarre architectural disasters in the world.

What is Burj Al Babas?

Burj Al Babas is a great example of how a massively funded architectural project can turn into a real estate nightmare. $200 Million were spent on this site to attract rich Arabs to buy properties in Turkey. However, the project failed in 2019 and this area was abandoned completely.

The construction of the Burj Al Babas villas started in the year 2014 in the historic town of Mudurnu, in Turkey’s Bolu province. Mudurnu is a small settlement with a population of 20,000 and is ranked in UNESCO’s Tentative List of World Heritage Sites. With a number of well-preserved Ottoman houses and ruins of a Byzantine castle, Mudurnu is a popular historical town. The residents of Mudurnu heavily opposed the project since they believed that it would damage the town’s reputation and historical fabric.

Drone photo of the area with hundreds of Disney-inspired chateau houses

Initially, the plan was to build 732 luxury villas and, in fact, the company managed to build 583 of them. Besides the Disney-houses, this vast residential complex was planned to have a large mall with pools, a mosque, a hotel and many other features in it.


Watch the video I made about this place on Youtube @argunkonuk


Why did the project fail?

At first the project seemed to have taken off successfully, with a handful of investors purchasing properties. However, the severe drop of the Turkish lira and the country’s unstable economic conditions gave the investors cold feet. Soon after, the construction company, Sarot Group, went bankrupt. And time here has since stopped.

The houses are built only a couple of meters apart from each other

A before and after comparison

BEFORE

When I checked the company’s website, I saw a project catalogue with the planned outcome of the project. Here’s how this place was planned to look like:

AFTER

Today, this well-funded project has turned into a vast ghost town with hundreds of uninhabited Disney castle houses:

Where is Burj Al Babas?

How to enter the site?

Make sure you read this section carefully if you are planning on visiting Burj Al Babas.

I see that the visitors who come to Burj Al Babas quite often leave the area without managing to enter the site. Here’s the simplest explanation on how to easily visit this residential complex. The main road that passes in front of the area leads to the town of Mudurnu, which is the closest settlement to Burj Al Babas. This section is bordered with barbed wires, so there is no way of entering from this very spot.

If you want to enter the site and roam around the houses, follow my suggestions 🙂

What you have to do is to take a right from this very spot and get on to the dirt road. The road is a little bumpy, but even if you have a standard passenger car, as long as you drive slowly, you will not hit the bottom of your car.

Follow the road for about 3 minutes and park your vehicle at this spot. Then walk down for about a 100 meters from the path near you and you will find yourself at Burj Al Babas. There are no barbed wires, no security, nothing.

There is no easier or better place to park your car. I spent an hour trying find a more convenient place, so you don’t need to. Just go with my suggestion 🙂

If you are looking for a new and unusual place to explore in Turkey, Burj Al Babas is one of the best spots to hit the off the beaten path in Turkey.

Argun Konuk
Argun Konuk

I am a 25-year-old Turkish travel & history enthusiast, sharing my travel experiences in Turkey and different parts of the world!

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