Chernobyl, day 2 – Palace of Culture
After leaving the rusted machines behind, our guide told us he was taking us to the centre of Pripyat. This is where the day tours who only have a few hours in Chernobyl spend all their time. When we arrive, our driver parked the car and our guide told us that we were free to wander around wherever we wanted until lunchtime, he would wait in the car. To say we were excited was an understatement. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Shane had already offered our guide a bribe, and he had turned down our money, but said we could go inside the buildings anyway. What a rad dude.
The first building we came to was the Palace of Culture. It’s a huge building, with remnants of a gym, swimming pool, a theatre, among other things such as dance studios and study rooms. This was where people would go to enjoy sports and recreational activities, and was only one kilometre from the reactor. Palaces of Culture were common throughout the Soviet Union; the one in Pripyat was named “Energetik”
The words ” сильныe, смелые, ловкиe” translate as “strong, courageous, dexterous”.
The famous ferris wheel is visible through the empty window-frames of the gymnasium inside the Palace of Culture. After seeing so many photos of it over the years, it felt kind-of surreal and a bit eery to finally see it in person, looming up from the trees in the distance.
Most of Pripyat is graffiti-free, though there were a few tags inside the Palace of Culture that were dated the week before. I’m not sure why people would make the effort to get into Pripyat to then tag buildings? But anyway…
One of the things I loved the most was the murals, posters and signs from the Soviet 80s which could still be found around the buildings.
The paint, now peeling from the walls, was done in bright cheery colours and the thought of the happy and vibrant place it once would have been contrasts starkly with the state it is in now.
At the end of the building was a room filled with old Soviet posters and wall hangings. This was my favourite part.
After the Palace of Culture, we checked out a couple of the large multi-story buildings nearby, before having a close-up look at one of the most well-known sights, the funfair…
x Kitten of Doom