Ghost Town: Prypiat, Ukraine

Wednesday, 21st October 2009 by

New writer: Chris Hannigan Chris is from Savannah, Georgia, USA where he works as a computer lab instructor for a major aerospace company. Previously employed by an airline, Chris has flown to many places around the world and continues to travel with his family today.

This post is part of an occasional series where we visit some of the world’s most interesting abandoned places.

On April 26, 1986, reactor number four at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, resulting in the worst nuclear disaster in history. The explosion itself killed 56 people, but the accident caused four hundred times more fallout than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima; the full consequences of which have yet to be realised.

GSS have visited Chernobyl twice before, but this article will discuss the city of Prypiat, Ukraine, which was home to a population of over 50,000 residents before the accident, and which today is merely a ghost town.

The city sits right in the middle of a 30km exclusion zone around the plant. Trees and weeds have grown over most of the streets and buildings, but remarkably much of the town is still intact. Schools1, parks, a stadium, and even a ferris wheel can still be seen today.

On the day following the explosion, government workers ordered the residents to evacuate. Many families were told they would only be gone for three days, but the evacuation was actually permanent. As a result, many buildings within the town still contain personal belongings that were left behind by their owners. Items such as TVs, furniture, children's toys, and clothing can be seen inside the buildings, left just where they were on the day of the accident.

As a result of the fallout from the explosion, much of the land around the city has been designated "inappropriate for farming or agriculture" for the next 200 years. One area hit especially hard is known as the Red Forest. These woods, just south of Prypiat, turned a deep red colour after the explosion, and slowly the trees began to die as a result of the radiation. Eventually, much of the woods were bulldozed and buried, but they remain one of the most contaminated areas in the world.

Following some of the roads out of the city will lead to the control points that secure the 30 km exclusion zone around the plant. These checkpoints are staffed by guards and police.

Even with all of the potential health hazards of visiting the city today, several Ukrainian companies actually offer guided tours of the area. If you plan on visiting Prypiat yourself, make your way to the nearby town of Chernobyl, another settlement evacuated by the disaster. There, a few apartments, a lodge, and even a hotel exist and are still in use today.

Prypiat and the Chernobyl disaster are of course well documented on Wikipedia.

  1. A 4-story school collapsed in July 2005 due to deterioration. ↩︎