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Chernobyl, Pripyat, Duga, & the Chernobyl Power Plant

Abandoned Pripyat Chernobyl
Written by Jeff

updated on April 13th, 2019

In early March 2019, I was fortunate enough to visit Chernobyl. I ended up with a LOT of photos. Click on the photos below for high-res and read their captions.

Arriving inside the 30km exclusion zone

There is a school just outside of Chernobyl Town- a common first stop for visitors.

The first glimpse of the Chernobyl Power Plant

The Pripyat town sign and the edge of the Red Forest. When the disaster happened, the wind was blowing directly towards the town of Pripyat and the outlying forest. The radiation burned the vegetation and turned the trees red, hence the name.

Pripyat once had a population of 49,360 people. After April 26th 1986, locals were given three hours to pack a suitcase, being told they could come back later for the rest of their things. They never came back.

Photos of The Pripyat Cafe along the banks of the Pripyat river

In the center of Pripyat is a town square. This connected the grocery store, a hotel, theater, amusement park, and some housing blocks.

Photos of the Pripyat Amusement Park

The Pripyat Amusement Park never officially opened. It was set to open on May Day, May 1st 1986, just five days after the Chernobyl disaster.

360 degree photo sphere of the amusement park

The Pripyat hospital. Many of the Chernobyl first responders were treated here before being sent to Moscow, where many died.

The Azure Pool and basketball court

An elementary school in Pripyat

To end the first day inside the exclusion zone, we hiked to the top of an apartment building to watch the sunset.

It was now time to head back to Chernobyl Town and our hotel. Chernobyl Town isn’t abandoned at all. It’s home to over 2,000 workers who work half-month shifts before returning home, trading places with a new group who work the other half of the month. There is dormitory-style housing for workers, the Desiatka “Chernobyl Hotel”, a grocery store, and a post office.

The Duga Radar, also known as the Russian Woodpecker and the Moscow Eye. This is specifically the Duga-1 receiver. It was a giant over the horizon (OTH) radar receiver. Although the exact use remains unknown, it was widely thought to be used as an early-missile detection system during the Cold War. A small town was constructed for the Duga-1 workers and their families.

Inside the Chernobyl Power Plant

The power plant was just opened to tourists in 2018. We were able to spend a few hours inside the power plant and saw the Golden Corridor, control rooms, and even the door to reactor 4.

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  • Some of the best photos of Chernobyl I have seen. Did you get the impression that the abandoned city had been looted at all? I can’t imagine people would want to take items steeped in radiation but you never know.

    • Thanks, Nancy! I don’t think it has been looted much by visitors. If anything, maybe some random objects as mementos. It would be difficult to get much out of there as you need to pass through two checkpoints to get in to/out of Pripyat. On leaving, you pass through a full body dosimeter while guards scan your vehicle. If you had anything that was still radioactive, they’d probably find it. The Soviets did quite a bit of looting/salvaging so there’s a lot of stuff just kind of strewn about. They never thought it all would become a tourist destination.