We began this morning by visiting the morgue. It was a fairly small, but quite interesting, building located near the hospital. They also did cremations here. The morgue was very dark. There is also a small, overgrown cemetery right nearby; so, a one-stop death experience!
One of the morgue’s two autopsy rooms.
Then it was time to explore the rather large hospital which consisted of one main building and a smaller building somewhat hidden off to the side. I think the hospital was my favourite place in Pripyat. I did manage to see most of it but I moved around pretty fast. I think one could easily spend an entire day here. The variance in conditions between different areas of the hospital was almost unbelievable. I saw an office with pristine medical journals and rooms with unopened, undamaged vials of medicine and perfect-looking pills; conversely, there were hallways that were barely navigable because of all the debris and rooms with grass growing through the floors. Of course, most areas were somewhere in between in terms of their condition.
One of the hospital’s less hospitable hallways.
There were plenty of unexpected sights in the hospital including chest x-ray film and a very new teddy bear sitting on a chair which had obviously been left relatively recently. There was a table were abortions were performed complete with illustrations; abortions were apparently the only birth control option in the Soviet Union. There were also some very interesting signs and what appeared to be medical records. In a way I wished I could be read them but on the other hand that would have likely distracted me and I wouldn’t have seen so much of the hospital.
The chest x-ray film.
The basement was sealed off at some point because it is very radioactive as that is where the firefighter’s clothes were taken off. There was one piece of quite radioactive cloth in the lobby that we were warned not to touch but otherwise the hospital was quite safe.
Then we quickly visited School #1. Parts of its roof have collapsed. I never would have contemplated entering the building alone but the guide knew the safer places to go in. Still, we were only in there quite briefly. I was told the roof had collapsed because of a design flaw. Nevertheless the way things are deteriorating I’m doubtful that the buildings will still be safe to enter in even a few years.
Next was a fairly quick visit to another apartment building. This building had an interesting design where there were a bunch of exterior doors which each led to a staircase inside which led to just three apartments on each floor. The building also was of surprisingly varied condition. I wasn’t comfortable interesting some of the apartment because of the state of their floors whereas others were totally okay. When I left the building, I could still hear the floor creaking and no one was instead the building!
Then we went to see the river port. This consisted of a terminal, a milk bar (aka snack bar), and a dock. There were also rusted pop machines outside. It was obviously once a really beautiful place, especially because of the stained glass mural windows.
Part of the river port building.
Then I walked over to a building that had a cinema on one side and a music school on the other. The cinema was very dark. The music school was only navigable in a certain way as some of the floors were the most frightening I’d seen.
After lunch (at the power plant again) we tried to go the Jupiter Factory but there were some military-type people there so the driver very quickly turned around and we went to the police station/jail instead. The holding cell there was well-lit but the rest of the cells were in total darkness. There were some documents in the police station but they were apparently rather mundane (eg. accounting documents). The important documents were apparently removed before Pripyat was even evacuated!
Behind the station there was a garage where vehicles had been driven onto the roof to prevent them from being vandalized; that was not an effective strategy though! There were also plenty of vehicles on the ground including one that starts a video game called Stalker; this video game is apparently the impetus for some people to visit Chernobyl.
Garage with vehicles on its roof.
After a brief stop at the fire station, we were able to go see the Jupiter Factory. It is not visited often, by tourists at least. Despite being there for about three hours, there were buildings I didn’t even enter. There was just a lot to see! The official story was that this was a factory that made radios. However, few radios were ever produced and there was plutonium there; so, it really made weapons. The underground secret labs were flooded with water. This place was in use long-after the disaster (until 1994).I wasn’t initially sure that this place would be all that interesting but it was fascinating and huge; there was much more than just machinery. There were offices, what looked like at least occasional living spaces, a cafeteria et cetera. There were also plenty of interesting signs and furniture. I also found a lot of something called polysorbum which is a medical product used to absorb metals.
Flooded secret underground lab.
Some of the furniture in the factory.
Just a few of the many, many bottles of polysorbum.