Visit the Chernobyl HBO filming locations. My trip to Lithuania has brought me several surprises. Its capital is beautiful with its many different sides, and as such, it was chosen to record many of the scenes in the series Chernobyl, the successful show that was released worldwide in May 2019. In this article, I will bring you exclusive images from some of the filming locations, a good way to get to know the capital of Lithuania.
Where scenes from Chernobyl were filmed in Vilnius?
I didn’t know anything about the city’s role in the Chernobyl series when I decided to visit Vilnius, I found out by chance when I met a couple of locals and they are the ones who touched on the subject. I knew something about the series, one of the most popular in history, even beating Game of Thrones, although I haven’t seen the latter as yet, and I don’t really want to see it.
Once they told me about the places where the series was filmed in Vilnius I was, of course, curious to see them as I was spending several days in the city, which by the way, is both beautiful and very lively. Of course, I encourage you to visit it as soon as you have the slightest opportunity.
As curiosity had taken hold of me. I decided to go to the locations of the series in Vilnius having not seen the five episodes of the first season. I took pictures without knowing very much. I had to watch the Chernobyl trailer to at least give me an idea of what I was looking for.
And why Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania?
A question that I had asked and I’m sure you would too. What qualities does Vilna have to be considered as the setting for so many scenes of the series?
The answer is because Vilnius has several areas that look like Pripyat, specifically a whole neighborhood that seems untouched by time. The neighborhood of Fabijoniškės, which is located on the outskirts of the city about 5 or 6 kilometers away from the historic center of Vilnius. It has many buildings of the Soviet era when the country belonged to the former Soviet Union.
This area, above all, is a sleepy neighborhood, where many inhabitants who work in the center of Vilnius live, sleep and rest.
Some areas of the neighborhood are very similar to Pripyat, but do you know why? The city of Pripyat (translated from Russian as a peaceful atom) was created at the end of the sixties to service the power plant and was built over a few decades as a symbol of a friendship between the Soviet nations.
Most of the Soviet republics had their urban districts built by then, which is why the series was filmed in the Fabijoniškės neighborhood of Vilnius, which served as an example of Pripyat. They spent 60 of the 88 days filming in Lithuania, recreating the lives of people in the Soviet era.
Touring the Chernobyl locations in Vilnius
Once I had identified the places where Chernobyl was filmed, I had to go one by one to each using the Uber application which works very well in Vilnius. If you need it, you can make an account now to move around the city here. The people in Vilnius are very friendly, and the taxi drivers were no less.
It took me several hours (let’s say one day) to visit all the locations, because I wanted to savor the places, take photos calmly and record videos, see the exact locations and spend time in each one of them because through this production, I was also getting to know Vilnius itself following in the footsteps of the HBO Chernobyl series.
It is a wonderful way to find out more about each place because that way I traveled to the city that I enjoyed so much in a less touristy way.
Did you see the five episodes of Chernobyl series?
With a lot of curiosity, I watched the five episodes to check the scenes and locations that I saw and I will show to you in the following paragraphs. Of course, I thank you in advance for sharing this article as much as you can. I loved watching the series and I hope that there is a second season.
Five places where scenes of Chernobyl were filmed in Vilnius
Being in the locations where the HBO Chernobyl series was filmed. At times I felt like an actor, director, producer, production assistant or director, I even felt like a character in this series that had such an impact in 2019.
1. The Fabijoniškės neighborhood (the supposed city of Pripyat in the series)
This district was built around the period of the true Chernobyl catastrophe in the late 1980s. During your visit, you will see the buildings that can be seen in the episodes of the series. When you go, be careful not to disturb the neighbors who, although they are friendly, love to live in a relaxed environment. If you want a tour, leave me your details or send me an email and I will help you to book it.
Let me give you a little spoiler in case you haven’t seen the series yet. In episode 1, scenes of the buildings are seen more clearly at the end of the episode with the children walking and the building block number 75. That is the first time the neighborhood is seen.
Spoiler 2: in Episode 2 you can clearly see block 92, where the inhabitants pass by while evacuating and leaving the buildings at minute 21 or so. Even the children’s playground is still there.
Note: if you are interested in staying in a Soviet-style house to live the experience better you can do it because I have contact with a Vilnius operator to help you reserve it. Leave me your information, dates, number of nights, number of people. Once the dates have been verified, I will contact you to give you an estimate of the prices and continue with the process. Rest assured you will love the house.
2. Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights (The KGB prison in Vilnius)
This location, with a lot of real history on its walls, is one of the most visited museums in Lithuania. It was a real KGB prison and still has intact cells and torture chambers. The original furniture where the prisoners were kept, was used in the filming of the series.
I recommend that you visit the museum, you will learn a lot about the most recent history of Vilnius and the country during the Soviet era and if you can hire the audio guide or book a guided tour you can experience yet more.
In the section of the tiny cells and torture rooms, I felt a little overwhelmed with how difficult it must have been and the information I was receiving at the time. I could not enter the execution room, because many people had been killed there, although now there they are paid homage to in the room.
This was the only place I was not able to visit. I was in tears while thinking about the people who suffered, even before I heard someone else crying a little out loud, it could well have been someone’s relative affected by history.
3. The former guest house of the government of Lithuania (the Pripyat hotel)
This building is located in another district or area of Vilnius, away from the city but also closer to the first location. I speak of the Žvėrynas neighborhood, which is very close to the Russian embassy. In the series, this property appears as the Pripyat Hotel.
In any case, although in its true functions it was not the Pripyat Hotel in Ukraine, it served as a guest house for high-level Soviet officials who visited the country for a period of 20 years. This property also served as accommodation for the leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, and Richard Nixon, president of the United States during their visits to Lithuania.
This unmodified building served as an ideal location for the show, reminiscent of the Soviet era and the meetings they held within it. You cannot enter to see its interior but can at least take pictures and see it from the outside.
4. The former cultural and sports center of the Ministry of Interior
The next stop was this beautiful old building with a clear style of Soviet modernist architecture. It was built in 1982 and retains part of its history intact, so much so that its interior served to recreate and record scenes such as the Hotel Pripyat restaurant and the moments where they select the three volunteer divers (spoiler 3 or 4?). It still retains authentic furniture, a coffee maker from the bar and the walls with original decorations.
Although you cannot enter (at least I did not). I could see and take pictures through one of the glass doors. I imagined the luxury of this building of yesteryear.
5. Faculty of Architecture of the Technical University of Vilnius Gediminas (The Audience Hall)
Finally, the Chernobyl series moved me to Trakų Street, one of the oldest streets in Vilnius, which houses an 18th-century building which became the perfect location for the trial hearings, with the rooms very reminiscent of the Soviet era.
Witnesses to the Chernobyl disaster still remember that the trial took place in a hurry in the hall of a school. I was able to take a picture of the beautiful facade and I stayed a while looking at its details.
This building was once the Tishkevich Palace, but after World War II it became a university and is now part of the buildings of the same institution.
If you are curious, very close to this property there are many places of interest such as the Gate of Dawn (the Dawn Gate), the Vilnius City Hall building, and other essential places to see in Vilnius.
Conclusions and other additional data on the Chernobyl series
As you can see, Vilnius has allowed me to get to know her better, touring the city in search of the places where this HBO and Sky Atlantic series Chernobyl was filmed.
Likewise, Lithuania has other locations, because the supposed Chernobyl nuclear plant in the series is its sister Ignalina which is in the process of being decommissioned a condition of the country’s agreement to enter the European Union in May 2004. This nuclear plant in Lithuania is almost identical to the one that exploded in April 1986.
And, without going too far, just an hour and a half by bus from Vilnius, is Kaunas, the second city of Lithuania where several scenes were also filmed with some of its properties acting as the city of Moscow in the Soviet era and the hospital.
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What do you think of these interesting locations? I hope you liked my experience and can share this article.