Chernobyl - Pripyat

by Ville Ruusunen November. 27, 2019 485 views

The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the No. 4 nuclear reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in the north of the Ukrainian SSR. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history (quote from Wikipedia).

Nowadays, thanks to HBO's acclaimed mini series, ghost town of Pripyat has became almost a place for mass tourism. In August 2011 I was lucky enough to spend a few unforgettable hours it Pripyat and even had a lunch in power plant canteen, well before roaming masses discovered the place. This was also before New Safe Confinement was built over original, already decaying, reactor sarcophagus.

Welcome to Pripyat. Population zero.

Free housing. Available since 1986

Recreation center "Energetic" which was the first building we entered. Inside it became very clear why hard sole shoes were mandatory as floors were filled with glass, broken tiles and trash.

When humans are away, nature takes over.

No more fun and games.

Since our time in the area was limited, we headed to our next stop, the amusement park, which is probably the most prominent landmark in the city. Park was supposed to be opened 1st of May 1986 but because the accident happened just a week before, park was never taken in to use. It was a very saddening place in the emotional level with broken bumper cars, rusty swings and corroded ferris wheel. No cheerful families there, just decay

Our next stop was hotel "Polissya", one of the tallest structures in the city

After climbing quite ruined stairs to the rooftop of the hotel, we were rewarded with the excellent view over the city.

Chernobyl power plant reactor number four sarcophagus can be seen on the background. It's quite obvious Pripyat wasn't safe place to be on 26th of April 1986.

Coming down wasn't a bit easier than going up. Luckily sports centre / swimming hall was on the ground level.

Even though one would have been able to jump into the pool... wouldn't have been a good idea.

After we've relaxed by the pool, we headed back to the bus for the short ride to elementary school number three, which was our last stop in the city. This Soviet-era telephone pole caught my eye during our short walk from the bus to the school. Made of concrete. Because why not.

No point in closing windows. Trees will come in anyway.

A huge pile of children's gasmasks piled on the floor. Quite useless when you're having a nuclear accident happening only coupe of miles away... And why there were piled here, I don't know. At some places it was quite obvious some items were placed just for tourists to see (like a broken doll clearly placed on the floor at the first building we visited), but luckily most of the town appeared authentic. 25 years of scavenging naturally leaves its marks and number of recently emptied vodka bottles and cigarette packs here and there indicated city isn't visited only by tourists or robbers.

I wonder what was the subject for the last lesson held in this class.

All the equipment in the gymnastics class was badly decayed and rotten as one can expect after 25 years without maintenance.

This was my last shot taken in the city of Pripyat. Our two-hour long visit was over and we headed back to the power plant.

Next we were measured for the radiation - all were clean - and had a lunch in ChNPP canteen. When I was a 13 years old kid watching the news about the accident I wasn't exactly thinking this will happen one day.

Chernobyl reactor number four sarcophagus. I was surprised we really got this close to it. After ten minute stop our time was out and we had to head back. At the Exclusion Zone border control we and our bus were once again checked for the radiation and since everyone was clean, we were allowed to leave the zone and start our drive back to Kiev.

Visiting Chernobyl and Pripyat is easily the highlight of my travels, something you really visit only once in the lifetime. Initial feeling right after the trip was just empty, I couldn't fully understand what I've saw and experienced during the day. After some time has passed I've started to understand everything better and I even feel a bit proud I've been lucky enough to get there. Pripyat is a powerful memorial for the victims of the catastrophe, both dead and living, for those who have lost their health and home, for those that should never be forgotten.

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Emilia 1 year, 6 months ago

I was just a 6,5 y.o. kid when this catastrophe had happenned and I was living in Poland at this time. As a neighboring country we were in a direct danger zone, when the radioactive cloud was moving west, but in the communist countries no one told people the truth... I remember how adults talked about this and were really worried. Today it seems so unreal.
Great post and pictures +1

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Benny Law 1 year, 6 months ago

Excellent post, well narrated with stunning and haunting images. Thanks for taking the time to share this experience.

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Ville Ruusunen Replied to Benny Law 1 year, 6 months ago

Thank you for reading this!

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Shasta Paravati 1 year, 6 months ago

What a wonderful and educational blog. I was a small kid when this all happened and it’s still surreal. Thanks for sharing!

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Ville Ruusunen Replied to Shasta Paravati 1 year, 6 months ago

Nice you enjoyed reading this, thanks!

1 year, 6 months ago Edited