Pripyat Ukraine

The Ghost Town of Ukraine

Just Before it all went wrong

It was Saturday in Pripyat, in the Soviet Union. The next weekend would be the annual May Day celebrations, the new amusement park would open with it big Ferris wheel that towered over this 16-year-old city of 49,360 people built to house the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Something, however, was not right. The residents woke up to the sight of plumes of smoke coming from reactor number 4. An overnight stress test of the systems had gone horribly wrong.

Pripyat Before


36 hours later authorities started to evacuate the city. Just a few days, they said to the people. At the most maybe a week or two, and then they could home. They never did. Pripyat became a ghost town by that May Day weekend.


Liquidators were a special squad of people sent in to shut down the town. Including groups of female janitors who went from house to house to dispose of any food left behind to prevent infectious disease outbreaks and special hunting squads to remove any domestic animals left behind. This lasted for years with liquidators being rotated to limit exposure to radiation. Some of the liquidators felt unsettled about walking around in the abandoned city. To help with this they set up loudspeakers so the city would not be so quite.

Life After People

As you can see from the before and after images above, the trees have taken over the city. Buildings have been looted and are crumbling.

Pripyat Before and After
Pripyat Before and After
School books still sit on the desks waiting for the Monday morning school day that never came.
Amusement Park Pripyat
The amusement park that never opened
Oddly enough, this swimming pool was maintained for 10 years after the disaster by the liquidators. Photo from 1996
The Swimming pool in 2009
The Swimming pool in 2009
The decaying city is stuck in time with old Soviet Symbols everywhere.
Thousands of military vehicles had to be abandoned due to radiation

Swimming Pool 1996-By Darek83 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Swimming Pool 2009-By Timm Suess  CC BY-SA 2.0, 

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