Scenes from Chernobyl's ghost town.

This photo, by Timm Suess, captures Lenin Square in Pripyat, the town closest to Chernobyl. Once, the mayor imagined planting a rose here for every citizen. Now, the town center is little more than an overgrown ghost town. Though the site of a devastating nuclear accident is empty, tourists have started visiting in small numbers. The Ukrainian government opened the site to visitors in 2011, a bid to draw more tourists to Ukraine ahead of the 2012 European football championship.

Officials say radiation levels in parts of the dead zone are "returning to normal levels," but visitors must sign a waiver, and are instructed not to touch and irradiated vegetation or metal structures. According to a report from the Daily Telegraph:

Visitors get to walk through the debris-strewn corridors of its Palace of Culture, admire its crumbling Olympic-sized swimming pool, and wander through the eerily empty classrooms of one of its biggest schools. Hundreds of discarded gas masks litter the floor of the school canteen, Soviet propaganda continues to hang on classroom walls, and children's dolls are scattered about, left where their young owners dropped them in a hurry a quarter of a century ago.

Mr Andreyev, who lived with his family in Pripyat, said it broke his heart to return there a few years ago.

"When I went to have a look at my old flat in the 1990s my heart almost stopped," he remembered. "When I looked at everything that was once so familiar to me I realised how much we had lost."

Next week, Postcard will run photos of ghost cities. Submit your best shots to atlanticcities.postcard@gmail.com.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of high-rises in Songdo, billed as the world's "smartest" city.
    Life

    Sleepy in Songdo, Korea’s Smartest City

    The hardest thing about living in an eco-friendly master-planned utopia? Meeting your neighbors.  

  2. Equity

    The Problem with Suburban Police

    The East Pittsburgh police department that is responsible for killing the unarmed teenager Antwon Rose, Jr. is one of more than a hundred police departments across metro Pittsburgh—and that’s a problem.

  3. A young man rides a hoverboard along a Manhattan street toward the Empire State Building in New York
    Transportation

    Why Little Vehicles Will Conquer the City

    Nearly all of them look silly, but if taken seriously, they could be a really big deal for urban transportation.

  4. Maps

    Inside the Massive U.S. 'Border Zone'

    All of Michigan, D.C., and a large chunk of Pennsylvania are part of the area where Border Patrol has expanded search and seizure rights. Here's what it means to live or travel there.

  5. Life

    When Pride Comes to Town

    Several smaller U.S. cities are hosting their first Pride parades this year. For locals, it’s a chance to assert that they don’t need to leave their community to be gay.