Many people are mistaken or mix the town of Chernobyl and the Chernobyl powerplant even that they are two separate places. What’s the difference and what to find in the town of Chernobyl today?
Have you ever heard people talking about going to Chernobyl? But later when they show their pictures they are from the town of Pripyat? That is a frustrating issue that we need to sort out…
Everyone knows something about the Chernobyl disaster. The number of tourists arriving in the “Chernobyl area” increases every year. For most of them. the only contact they get with the real Chernobyl, the town, is when they stop at the entrance by the monument of the Chernobyl firemen, and then they drive through the town.
Inside Chernobyl (the town)
As you see on the map above, Chernobyl is located far more south than the photo-famous town Pripyat. Chernobyl is the first urban area you will see after crossing the border to the exclusion zone.
If you take part in the touristy tours, one of your first stops will be at the Chernobyl fire station. From here the first firemen came that arrived at the nuclear disaster. Then you will be embarked into the bus again and the only more thing you will see from Chernobyl might be the canteen if you don’t eat at the nuclear power plant.
Chernobyl isn’t a big town, but have instead some signs of civilization is these abandoned areas, and that attracts people. In fact, around 700-1500 people live here depending on the source. Yes, compared to the 12.000 inhabitants here before the accident, it’s a small amount. But I still think the first time traveler to Chernobyl will find the town pretty lively to be in the exclusion zone.
Most inhabitants of Chernobyl lives in apartment blocks from the Soviet era and a fact is that the number of citizens has increased during the recent years. Due to the Russian Wikipedia, presented numbers are:
- 1986: 13.000
- 2003: 300
- 2015: 500
- 2016: 704
- 2017: 690
I recently write that up to 1.500 people lives here, and it’s still true. They aren’t just registered as citizens in Chernobyl. They can, for example, work there on weekly basis or shorter in any of the companies involved in the work inside the exclusion zone.
When looking in the Ukrainian census from 2001, Chernobyl is classified as a city without inhabitants.
An old city
Chernobyl has a long history and is mentioned already in the year 1193. In the 14th century, a castle was build and Chernobyl became a center in the area. The town was under siege in World War 1 and almost destroyed in World War 2. The former large Polish population was deported to Kazakstan in the year 1936.
The town was modernized when the Chernobyl Nuclear powerplant was built, along with the construction of the new and bigger city of Pripyat.
The modern town of Chernobyl
Staying in Chernobyl is comfortable. There are 2-3 places of accommodation if you not stay in someones flat.
There are several monuments to look at, raised after the nuclear disaster. Some older monuments can also be seen. I Lenin monument is located in the city center. From here it’s close to the Monument of the Third Angel which is raised after the accident and refers to the bible.
Behind it is the memorial “Star Wormwood” which is a straight walk through the signs of all villages that were gone after the accident and was built in 1964 and is also called “Memorial Complex to Moved Villages”.
One of the most famous monuments in Chernobyl is the firemen of the “Monument of those who saved the world”, the same I mentioned at the beginning of the text. Also a monument to the brave “Chernobyl liquidators” can be found close to the Pripyat river.
A smaller museum can also be found within the city. Her you can see belongings left by the former citizens.
The vehicle graveyard is no longer possible to access without breaking any rules. There is a small vehicle exhibition close to the museum, where models of common vehicles taking part in the emergency work. The warning signs for radiation is probably for the tourists’ satisfaction.
Not all workers in Chernobyl works at the powerplant during the daytime.
The administrative center of the exclusion zone has its office in the town as well as several other businesses to keep the environment safe.
In Chernobyl and the rest of the area, you will see that all the pipes and valves are located above the ground. It’s not due to laziness. Instead, they keep them above ground to avoid unnecessary digging and the risk of bringing radioactive soil closer to street level.
There are some possibilities to enjoy your leisure time in Chernobyl. There was a bar located above the grocery store but, what I’ve heard, it’s now closed. Anyway, beer can be drunken at some of the canteens or bought directly at the store.
For religious people, one active church is available, St. Elijah church.
And if you have the whole day off, you can go to the Ukrainian capital Kiev, which is located 115 km away.
In the year 2013, Chernobyl celebrated the 820 years anniversary.
Enjoy your stay in the town of Chernobyl!