Zalissya is the first stop in the majority of tours; it’s interesting not only because it shows that the nature is real owner of everything, but also it gives the image of authentic Ukrainian village of mid 80’s.
Exclusion zone of Chernobyl and Zalissya
After entering the exclusion zone through Dytiaky checkpoint, you’ll have around 15 minutes of driving to the village. The road is surrounded by forest, but there are some former farmer fields between them as well. Sometimes, especially in spring and fall, you can see Przhevalski horses there.
Zalissya used to be the biggest village of the area which later formed the exclusion zone and is located in the southern part of the zone (Chernobyl town is just a couple of kilometers away). It was home for almost 3,000 people. After evacuation of population in the beginning of May 1986, nature is taking the village over. This area was not contaminated as much as Western and Northern ones, but as long as it was in 30km radius, people had to leave. Less than 10 years ago few people called re-settlers lived there, but today Zalissya is abandoned. Nowadays, the radiation background there is one of the lowest around the zone: 0.13-0.15 μSv/hour.
Zalissya, Ukraine, Soviet Union
Although the village was pretty big, now there are only two streets that visitors are able to walk on. If you take the first one, you’ll see a doctor’s house in the beginning. Simple small building for living was transformed into the place where people could come for a pill or women would deliver children. It is small, but it was enough for the people. There is a shop and a lot of private houses on this very street. The condition of all of them is far from perfect, many things were taken from inside; but still you can look through the window and see some beds, chairs, clothes left there.
The second street will take you to the center of the village, although now it doesn’t seem so because of the plants growing there. There is Zalissya abandoned theater; however, locals simply called it “House of Culture”. As for a village, the House of Culture was quite big and included library and huge concerts hall. Even today, there is propaganda banner above the stage saying “Communism is a bright future of the humankind”.
This village is amazing example of how Ukrainian culture coexisted together with Soviet rules; how wealthy and rich village kept Ukrainian traditions and spirit.