Who wouldn’t fancy a magical world of fairy tales- replete with charms and spells, quaint castles, serene lands and a happy peace quite unfathomable in reality? Perhaps we all do, children and grown ups alike, forever enticed by the otherworldly expanse of a dreamland that is a sight in prettiness. No, not the aesthetic architectural suaveness that dominates the world of today, but rather one that dwells in the myriad hues of charming encompassments, harbouring a mystic splendor not decipherable anywhere on earth.
Such worlds of fiction do exist in reality, albeit not in the exuberant charms you wanted to dreamily float away in. Think for instance the multitude of Disneylands scattered the world over and you can well envision the vibrant fun and joy of such an existence. However even in all its magic, that is a reference not totally fairytalesque. A far more fairy fable like existence beckons home in the curious land of Turkey, in the form of a breathtakingly captivating but desolate landscape- yet another enchantment in a nation already home to a wide many diverse attractions for touristry pursuit.
Turkey already is a charming land resting in a peculiar identity of its own. Famous for the earthy undertones of its rosy red tea and its many intricately weaved carpets among a plethora of other things, the very mention of Turkey prepares one for a rendezvous with magic. After all, flying carpets and a glass of tea as alluring as the Turkish cay are only novelties fit for fairylands. Not to forget the Instagram famous destination of Cappadocia that sums up surreal expanses of magic laden beauty. Characterised by dreamy hot air balloons flying up there in the air, prominent in its fairy chimneys and clusters of tall, cone-shaped rock formations, Cappadocia also is unreal in its facade of 36 underground cities that make the region as much an abode of secret charms as it is of fairytale- like fables. For a land worthy of such magic, isn’t it only natural therefore that an entire alley of mini castles with turrets and breezy rooftop terraces overlooking the forest make up an expanse of surrealty so phenomenal that will have you craving its otherwordly vibe like no other place in the world?
And that’s exactly what you can expect as you explore the houses of Burj al Babas in Turkey. At the foot of the Mudurnu Hills on the northern coast of the Black Sea, close to 700+ minicastles raise their gray roofed turrets in ominous fashion, as they stand deserted and doomed despite their fairytale like orientation and pristine presence. A sight to savor though, in their Disney style chateaus with ornate facades, circular Juliet balconies and all, all a distinct pearly white, spreading over a million square meters, these houses of Burj Al Babas are but an ambitious development project that sough to cash in on the nation’s promising tourism scenario, specifically preferred by rich Arabs who fancy the lushness of its nature and the magic of its bestowings. But despite its more than enthusiastic leanings, the project and therefore the array of almost identical castles does not serve as an aberration to the rich architectural heritage that Turkey already sits so buoyant in. With such drawings that found inspiration in the Italianate Galata tower and the medieval Maiden’s tower, these series of spectacular landmarks rest in occult abandon. Ironically though, they continue to dwell also in as much abandonement, as the rapidly falling lira has made buyers opt out of making these seemingly ethereal buys in a fashion quite appalling in face of the magic that shrouds these expanses of gothic castles that otherwise holds all the charms of the world to be the coveted castles of some cathartic kind. Straddling a region that has a wide many number of hot springs, each of the castle would have been as luxuriant in its encompassment as what it inspires perception of in its majestic sighting. The thermal water would have aided each of the minicastle with under floor heating and Jacuzzis and steam therapy, as it supposedly possesses potent ‘magical’ powers in being a medicinal remedy to many woes- unfortunately not for one that has grappled the project in such intensity that there has not been so far any feasible way out of it.
What was envisioned as a grand spectacle of architectural grandiose to be tumbling to such depths of eerieness isn’t just sad. Something of this extent to be spurred by speculations of a phenomenon called second home tourism sure has done Turkey more bad than good. Economic implications aside, the yet to be the epitome of enchanted valley like presence has condemned the country to far reaching environmental and landscapic repercussions as well. The view nevertheless continues to be stunning- conjuring up indeed visuals of the fairytale escapade the world continues to be so enamored with. Raked up by the lofty ideals of a $200 million project, these villas of Burj Al Babas however stand today as testimony of the nation’s economic plight.
The development isn’t anything new though. Not at least in the origin of it. Ghost towns have been fairly common occurrence throughout the expanses of the world, and not just in modern times. Be it economic factors, natural causes, social issues or just about any matter in the dwelling end of the spectrum, towns and cities have been built and abandoned, some have been lived in briefly, some have seen years of existence before losing out of steam to turn into a ghosting amalgamation of abandoned manors and homes and hearths. This endless Turkish vista of castles that should hold magic however is quite unsettling an affair, as they stand forlorn, almost forgotten, even when they continue to stir the interest of anyone who chances upon its majestic premise the first time ever. Also as locals of the Roman spa town of Mudurnu find diversions from their traditional architecture, characterised by Byzantine buildings, traditional Ottoman wooden houses and a 600-year-old mosque, the seemingly surreal houses of the Burj Al Babas perhaps were always destined to end up as spectral entities, so unique yet so identical that we dare say it might have even prodded on an identity crisis! But for a land steeped in so much eccentric beauty, be it the exotic geographical distinction of it or its offbeat charm of harbouring the bird village Kuskoy where whistling is the medium of communication, Turkey would sure not be undone by this phenomenon of the phantom town. In celebrating its failure perhaps, the castles of Burj Al Babas can indeed bring to the land what they were intended to- economic prosperity and a pan world exposure. Sounds too far fetched to be true, but humans never stop believing in magic, do we?