Pripyat (Ukraine)

Pripyat is a town in the north of Ukraine, not far from the border with Belarus.

It is best known for the accident with nuclear reactor number 4 on April 26th, 1986 in the nearby town Chernobyl.

The ionizing radiation resulting from this accident is still so strong that the authorities find it irresponsible to live there.

The town falls within the so-called alienation zone, which runs around the nuclear power plant in a radius of 30 kilometers and is not freely accessible.

Pripyat was founded on February 4th, 1970, as the ninth nuclear – and a model – city (a type of closed city) in the Soviet Union, to serve the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

It was officially proclaimed a city in 1979, and had grown to a population of 49360 people by the time it was evacuated on the afternoon, a day after the Chernobyl disaster.

The evacuation started 24 hours after the disaster and took about 2 and a half hours.

Pripyat is supervised by Ukraine’s Ministry of Emergencies, which manages activities for the entire Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

The radiation is less strong in the surrounding region, but five million people also live there in contaminated areas.

There are guided tours for tourists, starting from Kiev.

It is not possible to acces the site on your own because of tour own safety and military checkpoints you have to pass.

Nature has taken over in this area: there are trees growing out of buildings and animals like bears and foxes are spotted there.

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Kent school (Germany)

Kent School is also known as Sint Josefsheim. The names reveal a piece of the turbulent history of the building. In 1909 the construction of the Sint Joseph Monastery started, and after four years the construction was complete.

The buildings functioned as a monastery for only a few years: around 1937 the brothers left because of the upcomg Nazi regime, which took it over and used it as a hospital. During the Second World War this place had a dark side.

After this war the whole site got into British hands. During this first years the monastery continued to serve as a hospital, until it was transformed in 1963 to a school and boarding school for children of British soldiers. However – at the end of the cold war – the soldiers disappeared from Germany and the buildings got abandoned (and available for legal paying visits in the last few years).

Apparently there’s a new hospital planned now on the site.

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Swamp hotel (Belgium

About 50 years ago there were plans to construct a gigantic hotel of 19 floors high, next to a big park.

The construction works were started and the ground floor – with a pool – was soon finished.

While building the first floor, it was however discovered that everything was happening on marshy ground.

Since then this unfinished hotel – with only two of the 19 planned floors – has been left abandoned.

In the meanwhile there are even trees growing inside, and is nature taking over.

That’s why the hotel is totally invisible to visitors of the park.

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Hangar JL (Belgium)

These are a few sheds with adjacent buildings on an abandoned business park. Apparently there are homeless or junkies sleeping there since we saw some mattresses that lay there.

No other information found about this place.

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Metro line C

This is an almost completely finished tram line, between a certain city center and a suburb, that was never taken into operation.

This line (also called ‘centenaire’) winds through numerous workers’ districts and past recently built residential blocks, but its usefulness has never seen anyone from the local residents.

The whole area is served by numerous bus lines, so the need to step on a subway was very small from the start.

Since there has never been a tram along the platforms, the pick-up points have never seen a traveler.

The steel gates of the stations remain closed until today and only constitute an exquisite canvas for graffiti painters.

The entire route is shielded from curious people and neighbors as much as possible, but here and there you can witness the abandoned stops and take a walk in the trambed that is starting to look more and more like a city jungle.

During the 1970s and 1980s the crisis hit mercilessly in the area and the money dried up so that only a very few metro lines in the city could be taken in use.

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Sanatorium du basil (Belgium)

This sanatorium was built in 1900 by the director of a bacteriological laboratory to take care of tuberculosis patients. Patients started living there in 1903.

At that time there was no treatment for tuberculosis. It was one of the first institutions that were built in Belgium.

In the 1950s, new cases of tuberculosis reduced due to the use of antibiotics. Most institutions closed in the 60s and 70s or sought a different target group.

Due to the air pollution caused by the reconstruction after the Second World War (coke factories, blast furnaces, …) there were many children with asthma, and the remaining centers specialized in their treatment.

After the sanatorium era, the building was used for a while as a rest and nursing home, and in the period 2010 to 2012 also as center for immigrants.

Due to the enormous costs, including heating, it was closed in 2013. Since then it’s been left abandoned.

This imposing building with a length of about 150 meters is built on a clearing in the forest at an altitude of 420 meters. It is oriented towards the south for optimal use of light sun and heat and the architecture refers to the grandeur of German spa hotels.

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IM cooling tower (Belgium)

Power plant IM was originally built in 1921 and when it was finished, it was one of the largest coal-burning power plants in Belgium.

Water would be let into the cooling tower where it would be cooled by the wind that swept in from portals in the base of the tower, releasing billowing columns of hot air.

By 1977 the power plant and its massive tower was the main source of energy in the area and is said to have been able to cool down 480,000 gallons of water per minute.

After years of service, a report found that this power plant was responsible for 10% of the total CO2 emissions in Belgium. Due to this, protests from Greenpeace in 2006 gave the power plant a lot of negative attention and it closed in 2007.

The power plant still lies abandoned and is said to be scheduled for demolition, but until that time it continues to stand as a popular location for urban explorers.

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