Holidays

The World's Creepiest Places

by Ralph Martin

Chernobyl, Pripyat, Ukraine

Walk through the abandoned town of Pripyat in the Ukraine, and you'll find a large-scale crime scene abandoned in a hurry: A nursery full of children's shoes, and apartment complexes with the morning newspaper, dated April 28, 1986, open on the breakfast table. Two days before, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, minutes away, melted down, but it took 48 hours for the authorities to alert locals and clear them out of the world's biggest nuclear disaster site. Now that radiation levels are safe for short-term exposure, Chernobyl's nuclear complex has become an unlikely tourist attraction since opening to visitors in 2002. The power complex is at the center of the 20-mile-radius "Exclusion Zone," a regrown area of forests now populated by wolves and bears. Reactor #4 is the star of this sad show, today sheathed in a concrete and lead sarcophagus 200 feet high. A tour organization called Welcome to Ukraine offers day trips from Kiev via bus (you're advised to book two weeks in advance): You'll tour the forest and get to inspect the plant's exterior, including mounting an observation post to see the reactor, before walking to Pripyat, which was built in the 1970s and celebrated in official USSR propaganda as the "world's youngest town." It died young, but failed to leave a beautiful corpse.

Welcome to Ukraine Chernobyl Tour
Tel: 38 0 44 493 7849

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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