Ukraine: Urban Exploration in the Svema Factory

Quite a while ago now, I promised to upload some of my photos from my trip to Ukraine once I had finished going through and editing them.  I haven’t yet finished, but I’ve made significant progress so I figured I start the first of a couple blog posts.  This one is about a little stop I made at the chemical factory in Shostka for a little bit of urban exploring.


That chemical factory used to be the main producer of chemicals for pretty much everything film related in the Soviet Union, and they also produced film, film paper, magnetic film, tapes, and probably other things for various industries.  You can find a bit more information about Svema on Wikipedia but there isn’t too much in English.


Well Since one of my wife’s friends lives not too far away, and we were going to be visiting her family anyways, we decided to make a stop at the factory and see if we could get in on our way back to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

After arriving at the bus stop we grabbed a taxi and headed out to the main gate of the factory. Shostka isn’t a very large town so it was only about a 15 minute ride.  When we reached the entrance we saw that it was still guarded by security which wasn’t too unusual as some parts of the factory’s huge grounds are still leased out and put to use although the majority of it I think is abandoned and in disrepair.

Undeterred, we decided to take a walk back towards town along the fence line, and we followed the perimeter road until we reached a spot where the bricks had crumbled a bit and I could jump the wall.  It looked like I wasn’t the first one to go in that way, as some logs had been leaned up on the inside wall to help get back out.

Now I already knew I had a time limit of about an hour an a half to explore as we had bought our train tickets back to Kyiv when we arrived in Shostka so I quickly (and quietly just in case) set off exploring the nearest building.  It was almost entirely empty, although it did still have a few pieces of furniture in some of the rooms as well as some old propaganda posters lying amongst all the debris on the ground.  Empty alcohol bottles were also quite a common site, I guess its a cool place to drink.

After fully exploring the first building I headed over to a second larger building which was closer to the main Svema factory sign.  I wanted to see if I could get on the roof to get a better shot of it but the time I had to stay there was rapidly running out.  I did end up getting on the roof to take a photo of the sign but I wished I had more time to look around.  I only saw a very small portion of the second building because I basically headed straight up to the roof and only had a quick look down most of the hallways and into the rooms closest to the stairs.

Overall it was an interesting trip but I didn’t end up getting to any of the larger buildings or find any leftover, old machinery.  If you had the time you could probably spend days exploring because of how big the entire site is, and although there probably is security I doubt they patrol the whole area, and definitely not in all the old buildings.

After making my way to the roof and admiring the view I quickly made my way downstairs and retraced my steps back to the crumbling section of wall to meet up with my wife.  We then walked back into town and hurried to get a cab so we wouldn’t miss our train.  We ended up arriving just on time as our train was already waiting when we arrived, and then we endured the 5 hour train ride back to Kyiv.  Stay tuned for more Ukraine posts in the future (but probably not all in order).


P.S. For those curious, I used both my Fujifilm TX1 camera with 45mm lens and Nikon FE with 24mm and 85mm lens if I remember correctly.  I shot Kodak Ultramax 400 in both cameras.



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