In the foothills of Shenyang, an industrial city in northeastern China lies the mysterious State Guest Mansions project, a real-estate complex of more than 250 luxury mansions…all abandoned!
Its story began in 2010, when business in the Chinese real estate sector was booming.
Thus property giant based in Shangai Greenland Group bought up hectares of land in the foothills around Shenyang and began work on what was supposed to be a retreat for the region’s rich and powerful.
As a result 260 European-style villas began popping out of the ground, complete with prestigious marble floors and gilded chandeliers hanging from the ceilings, but for some strange reason that has yet to be revealed, their development stopped in 2018 and the place has been a ghost town ever since.
Today the crumbling estates are still abandoned, left in an eerie series of rows appearing like an architectural cornfield.
Actually the property developer never made an official statement about the State Guest Mansions project and what led to its abandonment, but many of the local people believe it has to do with corruption.
Probably someone cut off the funding and cracked down on uncontrolled developments, so it was left half-finished.
These would have sold for millions, but the rich haven’t even bought one of them, and they absolutely weren’t built for ordinary people.
The reasons for the project’s failure remain unclear, but to many the abandoned luxury village located about 400 km from Beijing is a sort of symbol of the current Chinese housing market, a sector penalized by its own excesses.
Either way, years after being abandoned, the unfinished luxury mansions have slowly been reclaimed by nature but also by the ordinary farmers who could have never afforded to buy them.
And the irony will only grow more apparent as the seasons begin to turn, as local farmers have begun plowing the land between villas for their crops. Would-be garages of the abandoned mansions are now repurposed as storage for hay bails, and modest two-rail fences corral herds of cows between properties.
Cattle are being raised among these decaying edifices, sometimes even inside them and their garages, and a heavy layer of dust and garbage are the only furnishing in the rooms, a stark contrast to marble floors and columns, crystal chandeliers, coffered ceilings, and intricate marquetry.
Sometimes also ghost town enthusiasts come here to explore.
Ghosts towns are not unusual in China, where an estimated 65 million homes are left empty.
For decades, the economy of the country was driven by real estate, so much so that the government often encouraged large-scale developments.
But now an aging population and affordability concerns, among other problems, resulted in a supply-demand imbalance, at times creating entirely vacant cities, including Thames Town, a suburb outside of Shanghai designed to emulate London, now basically empty.
But, interestingly, this luxury complex is also similar to Burj al Babas, Turkey’s popular ghost town of abandoned fairytale castles…
Images from web – Google Research