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Inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

  • This iconic ferris wheel is in Pripyat, the city near the Chernobyl plant where most of the workers and their families lived. The city was evacuated three days after the accident in April 1986.
  • A crumbling home in the Exclusion Zone.
  • A crumbling building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An old gymnasium in the Exclusion Zone.
  • A rusting bed frame in an elementary school in the village of Kopachi.
  • A crumbling building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • A crumbling building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • A view of Pripyat from the roof of a tall apartment building. The once-populated area is now overgrown with plants.
  • A crumbling building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • A crumbling building in the Exclusion Zone.
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  • A pile of old metal machines.
  • A crumbling building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • A crumbling home in the Exclusion Zone.
  • This is the one church in the Exclusion Zone that is still in use. Many who work in the zone attend religious services here.
  • A child's toy left behind.
  • An abandoned Soviet-style apartment building
  • Many of the buildings in the Exclusion Zone are rotting from the inside out.
  • An abandoned apartment building.
  • A metal sign showing the sickle and hammer, the Communist symbol created during the Russian Revolution.
  • A crumbling building in the Exclusion Zone.
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  • The exterior of a crumbling building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • A crumbling building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • A painting on a wall in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned hospital in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned hospital in the Exclusion Zone.
  • The inside of an abandoned hospital in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned hospital in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned hospital in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned hospital in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned hospital in the Exclusion Zone.
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  • An abandoned hospital in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned hospital in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned hospital in the Exclusion Zone.
  • A crumbling wall in an abandoned hospital in the Exclusion Zone.
  • The foyer of an abandoned hospital in the Exclusion Zone where a fireman's clothes sit on a metal box in a corner.
  • You walk over shattered glass, pieces of drywall, and other debris inside every building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • Inside the Cafe Pripyat (called “the Dish” by locals), a popular gathering spot for young people in the city. It overlooks a beautiful lake.
  • A public water dispenser outside the Cafe Pripyat. It was typical for there to be one cup per machine that people took turns using.
  • Inside the Cafe Pripyat (called “the Dish” by locals), a popular gathering spot for young people in the city. It overlooks a beautiful lake.
  • Famous for its large stained-glass window, the Cafe Pripyat (called “the Dish” by locals) was a popular gathering spot for young people in the city.
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  • Inside the Cafe Pripyat (called “the Dish” by locals), a popular gathering spot for young people in the city. It overlooks a beautiful lake.
  • On the dock right below the Cafe Pripyat.
  • A crumbling houseboat near the Cafe Pripyat.
  • An auditorium in a community building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An apartment on the 16th floor of an abandoned apartment building in Pripyat.
  • Inside a crumbling building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • A mural inside a popular community center in Pripyat.
  • All of the exterior windows have broken in this once-popular community building in Pripyat.
  • A newspaper or journal left behind in the community building.
  • An old basketball court in the community building.
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  • A public swimming pool in Pripyat.
  • Diving block No. 4 in a public swimming pool.
  • The kiddie pool in the community center.
  • A ladder in the swimming pool of a community center.
  • A crumbling building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • A spot where nature is very clearly reclaiming a building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned Soviet-style apartment building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned Soviet-style apartment building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An old store in the Exclusion Zone.
  • The rusted doors of a metal shop near a large scrapyard.
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  • There are subtle reminders throughout the Exclusion Zone that people once lived here.
  • An old chair inside the metal shop.
  • A rusted workbench in the metal shop.
  • A partially salvaged vehicle in the scrap yard.
  • A partially salvaged vehicle in the scrap yard.
  • The crumbling shed by the scrap yard.
  • A bathroom inside a crumbling public building in the Exclusion Zone.
  • Few buildings in the Exclusion Zone still have glass windows in place.
  • A flooded road in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An old mill in the Exclusion Zone.
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  • An old bathtub that has somehow ended up outside.
  • It rains often in this part of Ukraine, and the insides of buildings are frequently humid and rotting.
  • An oven in someone's apartment.
  • A junkyard of rusted refrigerators.
  • Wildlife has taken over the Exclusion Zone. If you're lucky, you'll see wild horses while you're there.
  • An abandoned grocery store in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned grocery store in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned grocery store in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned grocery store in the Exclusion Zone.
  • An abandoned grocery store in the Exclusion Zone.
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  • An abandoned grocery store in the Exclusion Zone.
  • Paintings and other stage props in the backroom of a theater house.
  • Bumper cars near the Ferris wheel in Pripyat.
  • Old dressers and filing cabinets in the community center in Pripyat.
  • An old gymnastics hurdle.
  • People came to the community center to watch films.
  • The foyer of a community building in Pripyat.
  • An old cash register sits in the corner of a room filled with child-size gas masks.
  • A rotting couch in the hallway of an apartment buidling.
  • Chipping paint in the hallway of a Soviet-style apartment building.
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  • A stove in someone's apartment.
  • A stairwell in a community center in Pripyat.
  • This apartment is growing a green carpet of moss and mold. If you look closely, there are a few mushrooms growing as well.
  • The foyer of an abandoned hospital in the Exclusion Zone where the fireman's clothes sit on a metal box in a corner.
  • The inside of a crumbling building in the Exclusion Zone.
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Miriam Wasser
This iconic ferris wheel is in Pripyat, the city near the Chernobyl plant where most of the workers and their families lived. The city was evacuated three days after the accident in April 1986.
What would happen if 130,000 people suddenly up and left an area, never to return? Welcome to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the 30-kilometer radius area around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which exploded in April 1986. If you visit the zone, you'll see homes, schools, hospitals, grocery stores, and even an amusement park, all in various stages of decay and rot. All photos by Miriam Wasser.