The small town of Mudurnu, in the Black Sea region of Turkey, is in an attractive district of mountains and forest and the town has a long history. There are well-preserved Ottoman Empire period properties and the town centre is listed as a Historic Preservation District. Overlooking the town from a clifftop lie the ruins of a Byzantine fortress.
Less than two miles to the south west of Mudurnu are the abandoned buildings of the Burj al Babas, a development of 732 luxury ‘villas’ that remain unfinished and unoccupied. Originally priced at $US 400,000 (which is allegedly now negotiable), half of the new build homes had initially been sold. However, the developer, Sarot Group, suffered cashflow problems since the beginning of the building project in 2014, after a number of wealthy Middle Eastern buyers backed out, due to fluctuations in the price of oil and a downturn in the Turkish economy.
The company filed for bankruptcy in November 2018, leaving 587 houses finished and the remainder in various stages of completion. A large, classical, domed building at the centre of the development that was to house shops, cinemas, conference halls, meeting rooms, restaurants and a nursery, is also still under construction. Other facilities, such as Turkish baths, saunas and an aquapark, are yet to be built.
But luxury homes aren’t what they used to be …
These are not just any kind of villa, these are whimsical, Gothic-style castles with identical exteriors, laid out side by side in long, uniform gridlines, much as you might find on a modern housing estate.
Every house is evocative of romantic, fairytale buildings, similar to Castle Coch near Cardiff in Wales, Disney’s Cinderella’s Castle, the spectacular Hohenzollern Castle in Baden Württemberg in Germany or the medieval Alcázar of Segovia, in central Spain.
Each of the bizarre buildings are three storeys high and has a high pointed, round turret and a square tower. Every building is identical on the outside, although home buyers can specify the interior layout of their new home.
Construction may have stopped at the site, but developers still hope that the project will continue. The developer’s deputy chairman said the project is valued at $US 200 million but estimated that only a further 100 villa sales were needed to pay off the company’s debts.
You can see drone footage of the Burj al Babas development on YouTube where the castles are described by property agent, Prestige Life Real Estate, as “gorgeous villas in Turkey” at “very affordable prices and convenient payment plan.”
If you’re buying a property that is slightly ‘different’, even if you aren’t planning on moving into a Turkish faux castle, safeguard your new investment by asking an Independent Chartered Surveyor for a Building Survey which will report on the condition and structural elements of your new property and highlight any anomalies with current Building Control legislation.