37 monuments in 30 days, and what I learned along the way.
Monday 1 February 2016
When I wrote my article about Chernobyl Tourism not so long ago, I described the place as a kind of ‘Disneyland for Ruin Photographers.’ Tens of thousands of people visit every year, huge groups touring the rural schools, kindergartens, train stations, holiday camps and river docks… but in particular, the tourists are drawn to the abandoned city of Pripyat.
I may have opened with an article analysing the behaviour of other tourists, but that’s not to say I didn’t play the game myself while I was there. The place is incredibly photogenic and I came back with a ridiculous number of images. Most of them have still never seen the light of day, still sitting in vast, bulging folders on my hard drive.
I’ve got photos of the amusement park, hospitals, transport facilities and the Palace of Culture… and one by one, I will eventually get around to publishing them. Here’s another set that’ll likely be finding its way to the front page of the blog one of these days: from the rooftops of Pripyat.
During my tour, we were invited at one point to climb to the rooftops of an apartment block and take in the view. While the rest of the group marched up the steps en masse however, I discretely let myself into the building next door; I saw a rare opportunity to get away from the crowds and so I took it.
The building itself was interesting, particularly as it wasn’t one of the structures typically featured on the popular tourist route. I looked around inside empty apartments, some furnished, others stripped completely bare. A piano lay beside the elevator doors somewhere halfway up the building – it looked as through looters had tried fitting it into the lift before eventually giving up and leaving it where it was.
The real highlight though was the view from the rooftops. Concrete blocks rising up out of green canopies; the forest moving back in to the planned utopia of Pripyat. Off in the distance meanwhile, the grey silhouette of the ill-fated nuclear reactor sat square against a stormy sky.
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