Ghost Town: a trip to Chernobyl, which survived the Russian occupation

Albina PanchenkoNews
Chernobyl and Pripyat

Many countries have ghost towns with a sad story behind them. Most often, they have been deserted as a result of war, disasters, or economic reasons.

Our country also has such a location that the whole world knows about. Today we will tell you about one of the most unusual options for traveling in Ukraine.

What's going on there now?

Almost 40 years have passed since the disaster, and the interest still continues. Films and TV series are being made, books are being written, and computer games are being developed. And thrill-seekers even travel to Chornobyl to see the eerie scene with their own eyes.

The contaminated area near the infamous nuclear power plant is divided into three parts: special, 10-kilometer and 30-kilometer zones. Within these points are the industrial site of the nuclear facility, as well as settlements.

Contrary to some myths, the location is open to the public. However, after the temporary occupation of the territory by the Russian invaders, it became dangerous to walk around the town as most of the territory was mined.

Ghost Town: a trip to Chernobyl, which survived the Russian occupation

Which city is called a "ghost" one?

Today, more than 1000 people live in Chornobyl. These are the people who serve the institutions and enterprises of the Exclusion Zone and those who returned to their native land after the tragedy. Life is not in full swing here, but it's not exactly abandoned either. Shops are open, and there are even souvenir ones.

Two monuments attract attention. The first one has a list of villages affected by radiation. And the second one, near the fire station, has the names of the liquidators of the accident.

But Prypiat is a completely abandoned and dead city. This is where tourists are taken. It is not recommended to move around on your own as wild animals live here.

Ghost Town: a trip to Chernobyl, which survived the Russian occupation

What you can see

Sights, if you can call them that, are inconspicuous buildings that would not normally attract attention. As a rule, the route runs through the center of Prypiat, abandoned houses, shops, and former enterprises and critical infrastructure facilities.

The famous Red Forest is one of the "liquidators" of the accident. On that fateful day, it took on a huge dose of radioactive dust. Most of the trees died, and those that remained acquired a rusty hue. Hence the name. During the decontamination of the Exclusion Zone, the park was demolished and buried, but after a while nature began to revive.

The road that lies above the railroad tracks was called the Bridge of Death. On the day of the tragedy, locals came here to see the burning reactor. They did not know then that they were putting themselves in danger.

The Ferris Wheel has become one of the symbols of Prypiat and the entire Exclusion Zone. Children have never been able to ride it. It was scheduled to open on May 1, 1986. But it was not to be. Interestingly, in September 2017, Polish tourists briefly launched the attraction to shoot a video.

The Palace of Culture Energetik used to host active evenings. It hosted hobby clubs, local and visiting artists, concerts and performances. In the fall of 2016, life came alive again for a moment. Ukrainian 'stalkers' illuminated the inscription of the establishment with yellow and white diode strips. This was their way of marking the 30th anniversary of the tragedy and the 10th anniversary of the release of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game.

The most unusual construction in the Exclusion Zone is the Duga radar station. It is also called the Russian Woodpecker. It is a huge metal structure. The length and height of one antenna is 460 and 150 meters, respectively, and the second is 230 and 110 meters. At the beginning of its existence, this secret facility was marked on maps as a pioneer camp. It was even rumored to be a "mind-reading device." In fact, the project was created to detect intercontinental ballistic missile launches. They planned to receive signals from Europe and North America. Now it is a favorite place for extreme sports.

Ghost Town: a trip to Chernobyl, which survived the Russian occupation

How to get there

You can go to Chornobyl from the age of 18, of course, if you have no medical contraindications. The most legal and safe way is to book an excursion, which is offered by travel agencies.

Specialists will help you get access to the Exclusion Zone, show you the most interesting places and tell you their history. The tour usually starts from Kyiv.

Is it possible to get there on your own? Yes, but it is difficult. First, you need to get an entry permit and pass radiometric control. Sneaking in is highly discouraged. The territory is guarded by law enforcement officers and border guards. Patrols regularly inspect the area to keep out looters looking for radioactive metal to sell.

Please note that trespassing is punishable by law and is also dangerous to health. Especially now, when a large part of the territory is mined.

For those who like stories, especially dark ones, we recommend taking a closer look at this area. However, we urge you to take a responsible approach to such a trip, and ideally postpone the trip until peaceful times.

Ghost Town: a trip to Chernobyl, which survived the Russian occupation

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