Haunting images of the towns left behind by Chernobyl

The iconic Ferris wheel in the ghost town of Pripyat

It’s not every day you get to say you’ve had a stroll around a radioactive ghost town. But this year, for my birthday, that’s exactly what I did… and the deserted towns within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone were every bit as hauntingly beautiful as I had imagined.

In recent years, the whole area has been a draw for tourists and photographers alike, as the radioactive levels have dropped to levels considered safe enough to wander around without risk of sickness (at least that’s what I was told).

The Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine sent shock waves across the world when reactor number 4 exploded during a routine test on 26 April 1986. Local inhabitants of Pripyat and other surrounding towns, who were mostly workers at the nuclear plant, were evacuated days after the explosion, promised by authorities they would be away for just a few days. But they were never to set foot back into their homes again. 

Sadly, in the years after the evacuation, looters stripped all homes and buildings of artifacts and possessions… right down to the copper wiring behind the walls, leaving behind a skeleton of what was once a beautiful and bustling town.

Even floor boards were ripped up in the hope of finding family treasures hidden in haste. The hall which houses the stage of the Palace of Culture in the abandoned village of Zalissya, has half its floor ripped out. The banner reads “Communism is a bright future for all humanity”. 

The local kindergartens are haunting. Wire beds, dolls, old text books featuring Lenin and toys litter the buildings. It’s a sight that will never leave me.

Clothes need a wash? You might want to think twice before using this laundrette… 

Perhaps one of the most iconic attractions for visitors to Pripyat, is the ferris wheel and fairground rides. Apparently, the amusement park was opened for a short time on 27 April before the announcement to evacuate the city was made.

Nature has now reclaimed the area – and this is what the world would look like in thirty years if mankind were to disappear. Eerie, isn’t it?

The tour was organised through getyourguide.co.uk and all shots were taken with my Nikon Z6.

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