Silent City: 24 Views of Abandoned Post-Nuclear Chernobyl

April 26, 1986 was a date that forever changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. On that day, Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine had a meltdown, triggering a fire that blanketed the entire area in a massive plume of radioactive fallout. One of the hardest-hit areas was the nearby town of Pripyat. Residents were told that they were to be evacuated from their homes only temporarily, leading families to leave nearly all of their possessions behind. Little did they know that radiation levels would remain so high that most would never see their homes or belongings again.

Today, the area around Chernobyl remains an “exclusion zone,” meaning that no one is allowed to live there because of the continued nuclear contamination. However, with a permit and a tour guide, visitors are allowed to travel through the area. Timm Suess, a Swiss photographer with a taste for urban decay, spent two days in the Chernobyl zone of exclusion in March 2009. He created a catalog of 450 incredible HDR photographs documenting the current state of Pripyat and the surrounding area. This sample of his work will take you through an emotional journey of sadness, wonder, and the joy of rebirth. Click below to enlarge.