Pripyat- Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Pripyat, named after a nearby river, is a now-abandoned city in northern Ukraine, near the border with Belarus. The city was founded in February 1970 to house workers of the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which lies only 2 miles away. The city was an atomgrad- a Soviet closed city with travel and residency restrictions. Pripyat was to the USSR what Milton Keynes is to the UK. It had modern-for-the-time architecture and was purposely planned, as opposed to the general ad-hoc evolving sprawl of traditional urban areas. The model city was designed to show off the best of the Soviet Union.

By 1979 the city had a population of 49,360, with an average age of 26 years. This young population lived a relatively happy life in the 160 apartment blocks of the city, served by 20 schools and nurseries, a hospital, 25 shops and 27 cafes. Being one of the most modern and luxurious cities in the USSR, there was plenty of green space as well as cultural and recreational amenities including 10 gyms, 35 playgrounds, a palace of culture, a cinema and a school of arts. The iconic amusement park was due to open in just a few days time when disaster shook the city and changed Pripyat, and the lives of thousands, forever.

Within two days of the Chernobyl disaster on 26th April 1986, the thriving city became a ghost town. Nearly all its residents were evacuated, never to return. Most were relocated to the purpose-built city of Slavutych, around 30 miles away. Today the Pripyat lies frozen in the past, a time capsule of life in the Soviet Union. Personal belongings are scattered throughout the abandoned buildings, which now crumble under the weight of time, paint peeling and structures warping. Forgotten toys sit where they were last dropped, their owners now adults, living their lives elsewhere.

Housing

The vast majority of Pripyat’s residents lived in the 13,414 apartments of the city, spread across 160 apartment blocks specifically built to house workers of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station. The largest of these apartment blocks are four 16 storey towers. These apartments have now been looted extensively, but personal belongs are still littered throughout the decrepit structures.

Culture & Leisure

The Avanhard Stadium was home of FC Stroitel Pripyat, capable of holding 5000 spectators. Like the Amusement Park, the stadium was due to open on May 1st 1986- days after the Chernobyl disaster stopped life in its tracks in the city. In the aftermath of the explosion, the stadium was used as a landing ground for helicopters. The football team was re-established in Slavutych.