3. Prypiat, Ukraine
Image: Kadams 1970/Wikipedia Commons
On April 26, 1986 the most horrendous nuclear disaster in human history occurred when reactor number four of the Chernobyl power plant exploded, sending deadly plumes of radioactive fallout over much of Russia and Europe. Although only a relatively small number of people died from the explosion, the residual radioactivity was devastating for the communities living in the surrounding areas. Prypiat, the town closest to Chernobyl where all the power plant workers lived with their families, was evacuated.
Today, Prypiat remains exactly as it was in 1986 when its residents were forced to flee. Since the town falls under the “Zone of Alienation” (a 19-mile perimeter around Chernobyl not considered safe for humans to inhabit), it has been left to decay. Alongside eroded apartment complexes, schools, and storefronts, an amusement park still stands in the heart of Prypiat. Many of the buildings have collapsed from abrasive Russian weather, but Prypiat’s ferris wheel eerily rises above the abandoned city.
Recently, radiation levels have dropped dramatically and it’s now safe to visit the city for short periods of time. Group tours are led to Prypiat, where tourists can hang out in the city and take pictures for a couple hundred dollars a day.