500 Abandoned Disney-esque Castles Found Inside Ghost Town

An urban explorer has filmed an eerie town filled with abandoned Disney-esque castles, in footage that resembles a haunting fairytale.

The Burj al Babas resort, in Turkey, was meant to attract wealthy tourists from the West and the Middle East, but has instead become a playground for thrill-seekers and adventurers.

The sprawling town, some 120 miles east of Ankara, has hundreds of half-finished mansions with turrets and balconies, reminiscent of Disneyland.

The original plan—overseen by the Sarot Group, headed by brothers Mezher and Mehmet Yerdelen—was to build 732 mini châteaux and construction got underway in 2014.

The initial budget was $200 million, with each villa priced between $370,000 and $500,000. By 2018, 537 of the properties had reached varying degrees of completion, with around 350 sold.

But the developers soon ran into trouble, as a failed Turkish coup, inflation and an economic downturn hit the project.

Plummeting oil prices were affecting their target market as well, as buyers and investors pulled out. Facing spiraling debt of $27 million, Sarot Group went into bankruptcy in 2018.

A glimmer of hope emerged the following year, when the group was granted permission for construction to resume after a court reversed the bankruptcy decision.

Abandoned half-built mansions in Turkey.
Abandoned half-built mansions in Turkey. An urban explorer captured the ghost town of Burj al Babas. ADEM ALTAN/Getty Images

"We have discharged 50 percent of our debts during the judicial process. We will finish the project in 2021," Mezher Yerdelen, chair of the Sarot Group, was quoted as saying by Hurriyet Daily News in 2019.

Then COVID-19 hit, delaying the project once again. With an uncertain future, the ghost town has become an attraction in its own right, with rows of empty mansions enticing a different kind of visitor.

BigBankz, a self-styled "urban explorer," visits deserted locations and shares his tours on his TikTok page. One of the 24-year-old's most recent clips, uploaded to the site on Sunday, showed the half-finished resort.

"Over 500 abandoned Disney castles," the on-screen text says, as he captioned the clip: "Crazy experience being here."

Abandoned half-built mansions in Turkey.
Abandoned half-built mansions in Turkey.
Abandoned half-built mansions in Turkey.
Abandoned half-built mansions in Turkey.

BigBankz, who is from Oklahoma, told Newsweek: "The resort was fascinating, I am an urban explorer and I explore abandoned places to step back in time and document what us humans leave to go to waste. I went because I have heard about the castles for a few years now and was intrigued to experience the atmosphere of over 500 castles abandoned myself.

"We were there about two hours exploring them. The castles are unfinished but you could tell just by what was left they were going to be exquisite, some even had marble staircases. It was a surreal experience; it was like a dream."

The footage, which can be seen here, has amassed more than 5 million views and thousands of incredulous comments.

Justin Hopps posted: "This should be the villain part of the theme park."

Hali Jade140 thought: "Man they should have just tried to complete 50 nicely instead of 500 badly."

"Man that's expensive waste," Yhassi wrote.

Abandoned half-built mansions in Turkey.
Abandoned half-built mansions in Turkey.
Abandoned half-built mansions in Turkey.
Abandoned half-built mansions in Turkey.

Nutwit thought: "This is possibly the most horrific place to live I can imagine."

BigBankz is not the only one to explore the eerie location, with a music video for artist Meduza, called "Lose Control," shot at the resort. It has been seen more than 96 million times since being uploaded to YouTube in 2019.

Other urban explorers have headed to the Turkish town, including Mike Corey, whose footage has amassed more than 2 million views.

Corey, host of The Travel Show on the BBC, shared his adventures with followers on his Fearless and Far vlog last year.

Newsweek reached out to official accounts listed for the Sarot Group and Burj al Babas project, for comment.

Update 9/24/21, 3:50 a.m. ET: This article was updated with comment and video from BigBankz.