Chernobyl 1984-2009: Then and Now

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Image: Timm Suess

Though people generally speak of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, it was the city of Pripyat that actually housed the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and was founded in 1970 just for this purpose. Before the nuclear disaster on April 26, 1986 that saw the destruction of Reactor No. 4 and the release of huge clouds of radioactive material, the town was home to around 50,000 people. Follow us on a tour that shows the contrast between the radiant city prior to 1986 and the radioactive ghost town in 2009.


Image: Timm Suess

An eyewitness since 1970: The sign announcing Pripyat

Our aim for this Chernobyl retrospective was to capture the mood of the city just before the disaster and to contrast it with impressions of the city now. A perfect match was Timm Suess’s work, a Swiss photographer and urban explorer whose images capture this contrast beautifully. Suess spent two days exploring Chernobyl and Pripyat in March 2009 and agreed to answer our questions about his adventure.

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Image: Timm Suess

The Chernoshop with a lot of bottles

Pripyat today is an abandoned city in the Zone of Alienation in northern Ukraine near the border with Belarus, about 100 km from Kiev. The Zone of Alienation is the 30km-radius around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Pripyat and Chernobyl are 15 km apart. Since 2002, the Chernobyl Zone of Exclusion is officially open for, well, not tourism, but for people who feel strangely attracted to disaster sites and decay and want to see for themselves.

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