Photographing Chernobyl in Winter
The purpose-built city of Slavutych in northern Ukraine, near the border of Chernihiv and Belarus, was created specifically for the families forced to evacuate the town of Pripyat after the tragedy at Chernobyl, and survivors who worked at the nuclear power plant. It was the last city the Soviet Union created before its dissolution.
After the disaster, architects from Ukraine, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan came together to construct the town, which would house around 25,000 residents. Rather than design the city in a homogenous fashion, the project was planned so that each neighborhood was designed by an architect from one of the nations in a local fashion. Slavutych, therefore, is one of the most unique cities in the world architecturally speaking.
In order to build atop the contaminated soil of the area, over six feet of fresh soil had to be laid before construction, which began promptly after the tragedy in 1986. In October 1988, the first residents moved into their new homes.
Slavutych was built to be an affluent and prized place to live. The city’s construction ensured that the place had everything needed to give the children of the disaster a fruitful and promising life. The city has a variety of sports centers, youth and cultural centers, playgrounds, medical facilities, and even a hotel.
The Slavutych train station still sends workers daily to their jobs at Chernobyl. The number of workers back in 2001 was 9,000, but that number has dipped to around 3,000 people who are still working at Chernobyl and living in Slavutych.
Know Before You Go
The best way to get to Slavutych for a day trip is to base yourself in Chernihiv and take a marshrutka there. There are buses leaving hourly or every other hour to Slavutych from Chernihiv. Taking one back is just as easy. If you're looking for tasty food, check out a restaurant called Old Tallinn in the Tallinn Quarter at Tbilisskiy Kvartal 1. It is located in the city center and is the best place to eat in the city. Many Chernobyl researchers will find themselves there for a beer so you may be lucky enough to make conversation with someone and learn more about the tragedy and purpose-built city than you could ever hope to imagine.