Tourists’ Visits Jump After ‘Chernobyl’ TV Series
The television series 'Chernobyl,' focused on the catastrophic event that occurred at the nuclear power plant 33 years ago, is enjoying worldwide success. As a result, tourists are flocking to see the site for themselves
“Chornobyl is such, from the one hand, it is such a sobering place. But on the other hand, it’s just a place… it’s a beautiful place. You see that the nature returns and takes over and over and that’s what we can see. You can feel that you are very calm here, you can just feel the atmosphere. This is actually the only place, I would say, in Ukraine where you can really feel the atmosphere of the USSR,” tour guide Viktoria Brozhko said.
Last April marked the 33rd anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster in then-Soviet Ukraine, caused by a botched safety test in the fourth reactor of the atomic plant that sent clouds of nuclear material across much of Europe. The miniseries depicts the explosion’s aftermath, the vast clean-up operation, and the subsequent inquiry.
“Actually it’s awesome like I couldn’t say… I mean I am very impressed in a positive way – like the way you see and you can relate when you see those empty buildings. It’s just fantastic. You just feel like you connect with people that were actually here and you kind of feel what they felt when they had to leave. It’s a very cool thing to experience,” Brazilian tourists Caroline Maciel said.
In Pripyat, the ghost town once home to 50,000 people who mainly worked at the plant, an amusement park houses a rusting hulk of a merry-go-round, a bumper-cars track, and a giant Ferris wheel that never went into operation. The wheel was to open on May 1 – the traditional May Day holiday.
“Yeah, it’s very surreal being here. Yeah, it’s really isolated obviously and just seeing how nature is taking back over the buildings and all the roads, just seeing how everything is falling into pieces. In Pripyat, from what I’ve seen so far – it looked like it would have been a really nice town actually down the river by the pond. It looked beautiful, but of course, it’s uninhabitable now which is a shame,” English tourist Gareth Burrows said.
Day-trippers board buses in the center of Kyiv and are driven 120 kilometers to the area, where they can see monuments to the victims and abandoned villages and have lunch in the only restaurant in the town of Chornobyl.
“If this really becomes a super crowded tourist site, it also takes away the whole experience of being in an isolated place, because there are quite a lot of tourists already here and it does kind of take away the experience of being in a completely abandoned town, so I think if more and more tourists come here, that will ruin the experience, I think,” Dutch tourist Thieme Burrows said.
Tourists are finally taken to see reactor number four, which since 2017 has been covered by a vast metal dome 105 meters high which envelops the exploded core. The day finishes with a walk around the abandoned town of Pripyat.