Racing Around Pripyat [Part 1]
After the previous days brief trip into Pripyat, we returned for a very busy day. Over the course of the Wednesday we would visit over 20 different buildings in Pripyat, it was quite intense.
We entered Pripyat along the now heavily wooded Lenin Avenue and got out of the bus adjacent to Lenin Square, outside the Palace of Culture. Had we visited 30 years previously, the view would have been something more like the following.
In 2017, the scene is rather different, the Palace of Culture is looking a bit more decrepit and of course the surrounding landscape is far more overgrown. The 31 years with a lack of human interference have allowed nature to begin to reclaim Pripyat. Lenin Avenue was formerly a very wide thoroughfare, built in a dual carriageway like fashion with a grassed and treed central area. Nowadays, save for a very narrow and winding track it is completely overgrown with towering trees and low level bushes.
The first stop of the day was at the cities former supermarket. From what I understand the downstairs part of the building was your traditional supermarket for buying groceries and the likes, with the upstairs being more of a department store, supposedly being one of the only shops within the Soviet Union where Chanel No. 5 could be purchased, this reflecting the privilege of Pripyat, a model city for the modern Soviet citizen with a far higher standard of living.
Palace of Culture ‘Energetik’
Following our brief shopping experience, it was time to walk across the square to one of the most iconic buildings of Pripyat. Palaces of Culture were the central community centres of settlements within the Soviet Union, by 1988 over 137,000 had been constructed. Nearby Chernobyl town had it's own, albeit far smaller than this one. They were each given names, Pripyat's being called 'Energetik', meaning both energetic and power plant worker, a link to the whole reason the city existed.
The Palace of Culture was a real focal point of the city, it was intended to provide the cities inhabitants with a place to enjoy various artistic and recreational activities. Inside was a theatre, library, gymnasium, swimming pool, boxing ring, dancing facilities, meeting rooms and a shooting range. Leisure and exercise seemed to be quite an important part of Soviet life, Pripyat itself containing several further gymnasiums and swimming facilities.
Next up was the large Polissya Hotel adjacent to the Palace of Culture, this was constructed in the mid 1970's to house visiting dignitaries and guest of the Chernobyl Power Plant. The top floor of the hotel gave some nice overviews of the square.
City Administration Building
This one doesn't really count, we didn't actually go inside but we passed it on the way to the next place. It was originally the home of executive committee of the city but following the disaster it was used by a specialist team responsible for radioactive waste management and decontamination. For that reason it has a cool radiation warning symbol on it's signage. It has been disused since 2001.
Next up was Pripyat's school of music, one of several specialist schools and colleges around the city. The buildings façade mosaic was really nice.
There was once a statue of Prometheus outside the cinema, it's now living near to the Power Plant itself. I didn't get any photographs from the auditorium, it was suffering rather badly. The foyer area was quite nice though, also another nice piece of mosaic work on the outside.
Continuing our journey along Kurchatova Street we ended up near to the Pripyat River at the Cafe Pripyat. Another of Pripyat's many leisure facilities, residents were provided with somewhere nice to socialise and have a drink over looking the river, the could also take a trip on a Hydrofoil to other destinations along the river. Amazing stained glass windows.
The cafe on a nice sunny day with the large No. 126 hospital in the background. This was where the initial victims of the disaster were taken for treatment and still contains some dangerously radioactive items, 31 years later. That would be our next stop on the trip.
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