THIS is the incredible Chinese “ghost town” with mansions reclaimed from peasants and cattle roaming under luxurious chandeliers.
The stunning complex is nestled in the hills surrounding Shenyang, where nine million people lived just over a decade ago.
The semi-completed clusters of villas have been photographed with crumbling porches and overgrown arches, and cattle can often be seen roaming the abandoned lots.
Crystal chandeliers still hang from the patterned ceilings, and glamorous maps cover the walls between pillars and wooden beams.
Real estate giant Greenland Group started development in 2010, at a time when the growth of the real estate sector was in full swing.
But just two years later, the State Guest Mansions project lay in the dust.
It was to be a lavish cluster of 260 European-style villas with chic facilities for its exclusive visitors.
Today, local farmers work on land that was once intended as a lush garden for wealthy homeowners and politically connected people.
The reasons why the project was abandoned are still unknown, but locals have their own ideas.
At the former sales center of the State Guest Mansions development, the tattered walls are covered in graffiti – an eerie indication that local farmers aren’t the only visitors.
The area is also often full of explorers, adventurers and adventure seekers.
“This place is great for exploring, so I’m happy to stay here… and film a few clips,” one drone pilot told AFP.
“Everything is deserted here,” the man said, refusing to give his name.
“It all feels pretty spooky.”
China is notoriously full of “ghost towns,” some uncompleted and others fully operational — but with no residents.
Dozens of skyscrapers continue to spring up overnight in all corners of the country, and chilling images show the vacant — and sometimes half-completed — buildings left abandoned.
Rows of post-apocalyptic housing estates tower over visitors, impressive attractions and malls gather dust without residents or tourists setting foot inside.
Accordingly insiderIn China, around 65 million houses were empty in 2020 – enough real estate to house the population of France.
But many experts can’t say how many ghost towns there are in China right now.
Built on a mountain of debt, the construction boom began in the late 1990s when local authorities bought up large tracts of rural farmland for rehabilitation.
Building huge cities out of thin air was an easy way for politicians to artificially boost economic growth during their tenure—and land a comfortable promotion in Beijing.
Apartments were quickly bought up by homeowners who had no intention of moving in, and prices soared – leading to a huge housing bubble and huge uninhabited cities.
With China’s strict investment regulations in place, people are pouring their savings into real estate as a foolproof way to invest their money and make a profit.
They also snap up the properties for their future spouses, children and grandchildren, or for retirement.
That means almost all property in ghost towns is owner-occupied — but no one lives there, and some homeowners may never live there.
Max Woodworth, an expert on Chinese urbanization, said China’s developers and buyers have “enormous belief” that the value of their properties will steadily increase – and prices will not plummet.
He previously told the Sun Online, “Even people who have bought houses in so-called ghost towns rarely express regret in my experience.”
“They have come to believe that time is on their side and that over time these cities will fill up and real estate values will steadily increase.”