Every Thursday, I will be posting a photo from my travels and a spotlight on the location. Today’s Spotlight Thursday is from my dark tourism tour of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Pripyat, Ukraine was a hip young city in Ukraine that was virtually unknown outside of the region. That anonymity was elevated to infamy in the early hours of 26 April 1986. Just a few miles away from the city was the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station (Cherynbol, the Soviets couldn’t call it the Lenin disaster after all).
Pripyat was a city built by the Soviet Union. The city was built close to the Nuclear Power Station to provide housing for the power station workers. Much of the workforce was young adults and Pripyat was a young and vibrant city. All that changed on April 27, the citizens of Pripyat were given less than 3 hours to pack enough supplies for a couple of days and the entire city of 50,000 people was evacuated as well as thousands of others in surrounding cities and towns. Very few would ever return home to live.
Walking thru the city is like seeing the world after humans. The silence is eerie. Looking around, one expects to see other people going about their business, yet that isn’t the case. The buildings are being taken over by nature. Trees grow in streets. Rust has taken over the once gleaming metal. This is especially striking in the Pripyat amusement park. The park was built for the numerous children of Pripyat. As much of the city was young adults with families. Pripyat was a city of children. The amusement park had been finished a few days before the accident and was scheduled to be opened on May Day. Yet that celebration never came. The amusement park represents the lives that disappeared when reactor number 4 exploded.