The Ukrainian town of Pripyat, founded in 1970 was home to the workers and businesses that supported the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. At its peak in 1979, the city had 49,000 residents grocery stores, schools, a hospital, amusement park, and 160 high rise apartment blocks. The explosion of reactor unit 4 on April 26th, 1986 showered radioactive debris across the surrounding areas forcing Pripyat’s complete evacuation on April 27th and instant fame as the most recognizable dark tourism destination.
Furniture and personal belongings have been removed from most of the residential mid-rise apartments. What’s left is an abandoned town with a decaying shell of structures; there is no power, no running water, no cell service, and no human inhabitants.
Safety is a growing concern in the area as buildings have slowly begun to crumble, and collapse. Radiation is still present, and entering any premises is strictly prohibited; however, there are no doors or barriers to keep you out.
Pripyat’s tourism numbers have been steady for quite some while, however popular TV shows and features in popular games has made way for steadily increasing tourism demand over recent months and years. Touring Pripyat is considered a taboo form of dark tourism and is adjacent to the epicenter of one of the worst human-made catastrophes that killed many and impacted current and future generations with medical issues related to radiation exposure.
The ghost town of Pripyat Uncensored
There are numerous guided tours companies available for one and two-day trips to the exclusion zone. Most tour operators depart centrally from Kiev and require all visitors to wear long sleeve shirt and pants (even in the summer) to minimize exposure to radiation.
Arriving at the exclusion zone greets you with a military checkpoint who verify passports and eligibility for entrance. When you arrive at Pripyat, you are standing in the middle of a once-bustling, vibrant city. The most prominent feature you’ll continuously see is the USSR hammer and sickle emblem on everything.
If you visit in the Spring/Summer, you’ll notice that nature is well in-progress to reclaim the land and return the abandoned town to a lush forest that used to be there. There are cracks in all the pavement, and it’s not uncommon to see trees growing through cracks in the concrete foundation of the buildings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not in our lifetime. Experts have estimated that the background levels of radiation in Pripyat will be too high to for thousands of years.
Yes, Pripyat is safe to visit for short periods of time; however, access to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is strictly controlled. Tour groups are authorized to visit, but no one is allowed to live in the town.
Visitors should not enter any buildings in Pripyat. Years of natural decay and lack of maintenance has left many structures unsafe to enter.