During our visit, former and current residents (yes, some people were allowed to repopulate the area) were celebrating Chernobyl Day in honor of the 820th anniversary of the founding of the town.
We had a quick drive through town and saw the historic Orthodox church of St. Elias, which is still active. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to enter because it was closed.
We then returned to the center of town and visited the Wormwood Star Memorial, dedicated to the settlements that were evacuated during the disaster. There are signs for each of the 189 settlements. The white background on the front of the signs with black lettering represents the beginning of the settlement, and the black background with white lettering and a red slash represents the end of the settlement.
At one end of the memorial is a set of mailboxes for mail that was never delivered to residents of the exclusion zone.
On another end of the memorial is a trumpeting angel. Chernobyl translates to Wormwood, and many people believe the disaster was prophecied in the Bible by St. John: “The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water – the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.” Revelation 8:10-11.
There was also a a map of the exclusion zone with a candle marking every settlement that was evacuated.
The tour ended with a filling and tasty lunch at Restaurant Pripyat before heading back to Kiev.