The highlight of my Chernobyl tour was a visit to the ghost city of Pripyat. It’s a city that was founded in 1970 for workers at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and had a population of just under 50,000 at the time of its evacuation on April 27, 1986. It has been stuck frozen in time ever since.
The story of Pripyat is very interesting. People were given the orders to evacuate after the disaster and were only allowed to take their passports and nothing else. They were able to return for just a day six months later when the reactor was secured. This time, they were allowed to take only valuables and sentimental items – no furniture, clothing, or anything else – but only if the items passed a radiation test. Personal belongings and furniture are still found in apartment buildings. Former residents are also allowed to visit their homes and the city once a year on May 9, which happened to be the day I took my tour.
In Pripyat, we visited the main square (city administration building, hotel, recreation center, supermarket, restaurant, and city storage facility), amusement park, stadium, a café/snack bar, middle school, public pool, and even the rooftop of an apartment building. Because we only had 3 people on the tour, our guide was able to take us inside many of the buildings. Usually, tours are not allowed to enter the buildings because they are no longer safe and in a crumbling state.