An illegal visit to Chernobyl

Different people react in different ways when this city is mentioned. Some people would like to come here and just walk around for a while. Some people feel sad and remember the terrible disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant that led to thousands of deaths.

And some people feel heartbroken at the thought of a home lost forever.

The famous city of Pripyat was an atomist city built specifically for the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant workers.

Instead of an introduction:

Less than 24 hours after the disaster an emergency evacuation plan was developed for the city because of the dramatically worsened radiation situation. 1200 buses and 200 trucks were used. The city was divided into 6 sections. Evacuation routes and sheltering addresses for the habitants were determined. On April 27, 1986 at 2 p.m. a total evacuation of the city began. In 2,5 hours the city with a 48,000 population was completely deserted.

Unfortunately, the level of radiation pollution in the city turned out to be too high. It remains unfit for repopulation despite all the decontamination works. The city has been deserted for 28 years and is constantly being plundered by marauders.

Now it’s time to fully experience the dead city. The day started with a tour of a few apartments.

Plaster and wallpaper coming off walls are a typical sight in an apartment in Pripyat.

The reason for this is high humidity and precipitation (most windows are broken). During the decontamination the roofing felt was torn off and moved into final storage facilities. Naturally, water isolation was damaged as a result of such measures.

In many apartments the windows are broken. During decontamination works all things that were inside were thrown through them. In many cases nobody even bothered with opening them.

Because of little furniture remaining inside (all valuables were either moved to final storage facilities or stolen), the apartments look as if they were being renovated. As a rule, large wardrobes, sofas, plumbing and sometimes big kitchen appliances are still in place.

Let’s go up the stairs. All the entrances, to the roofs as well as apartments are open. I didn’t see any undamaged locks during our stay in the town.


The depressing view opening from the roof.



Some things and household items still remain scattered near the buildings after having been thrown out through the windows.

To my eyes, Pripyat looked Novemberish, gloomy and dark. Everywhere is dead silent. Not only the usual city noise is absent, but also the birds do not sing. Only the sound of wind blowing around the fallen leaves and slamming doors and windows can be heard sometimes.

We start our tour of the city at the main stadium. The place is popular with tourist groups, so we got up early in order to avoid stumbling upon one of them.

The stands.

The whole stadium field as well as most of the open spaces in the city are overgrown with trees that have reached the height of a 4-storey building or even more in 28 years.

It is worth mentioning that the radiation contamination levels are rather high on the stadium field. In some spots the meter displayed a figure of 1000 mcR/h.

While we were busy with exploring the stadium we heard the noise of an engine running nearby. Our group huddled together right on cue. A moment later two white vans drove from behind a corner of the nearest house.

There was no time to think, so our instincts took over. The next moment everyome was down on the ground.

Meanwhile, the vans drove closer and stopped only 50 m (150 ft.) away from us. Since there was little greenery, we could easily be seen in the low and patchy grass.

After a short exchange of opinions in whispers we decided not to wait for what happens next and took off running to the nearest building. It turned out to be a former residence hall for the workers.

Having hidden on one of the upper floors, we carefully looked out of the window. The vans turned out to be carrying tourist groups.

A study hall.

A kitchen.

Let’s go up to the roof.

Most open spaces in Pripyat sustained a high level of radiation contamination. This includes not only squares and streets, but roofs as well.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant is only 3 km (2 miles) away.

Radiation levels in the park are much higher than normal. The reason for this is the fact that this open space was used for helicopters landing during the fire-fighting operations in the power plant.

A merry-go-round.


Bumper cars.

The cars are the best preserved out of all rides. People also say that the contamination is the highest near them.

Next to the park is the Hotel Polesye. A radiation monitoring station was located there in April, 1986 and military personnel was occupying the rooms.

The main vestibule.

The elevator hall.

The nature is taking over inside buildings, coming through thick walls.


In most buildings all the metal elements have been cut off by marauders, but in the city center some radiators and handrails are still in place.

Today, marauders remain a huge problem in the exclusion zone. They probably work together with the security personnel because they take out stolen stuff on a commercial scale.

Going up on the roof.


The letters on the building between the two high-rise buldings say: «The atom should be a worker, not a soldier». Well, it turned out that the peaceful atom isn’t completely harmless either.

Pripyat is one of the remaining Soviet architecture and design samples. Everything here is frozen in time and screams 1986.

The view of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant,.

We continue our tour towards one of the high-rise buldings.


An apple tree. The radiation level is slightly higher than normal.

Scattered across the town, the famous graffiti can be seen here and there, an allusion to shadows of Hiroshima.



All the shops in town were numbered.

The night is drawing near and it is getting dark. So we head towards our squot.

Images by Sam Namos, reproduced with permission

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  1. I made a silly joke that these were screenshots from DayZ, as a joke, to make people laugh, and you removed it. Do you not have humor in Russia? Its awesome, you should look into it.

    Я сделал глупую шутку с, что это были скриншоты из DayZ, как в анекдоте, чтобы заставить людей смеяться, и вы удалили его. Нет ли у вас чувство юмора в России? Его удивительный, вы должны смотреть на него.

  2. Nice pictures and descriptions, thanks for your contribution. Do you have any plans in the future to also capture videos on your expeditions? 🙂

    1. I’m glad you liked the article. I just translated description and posted photos, with permission of the owner (Sam Namos). This is indicated at the end of the article.

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