Since the very beginning of civilisation, humans have fought wars over land, wealth and religion. The effects of these battles can often be absolutely devastating, causing a huge loss of human life but also destroying buildings, monuments and sometimes entire cities at the same time. The following are 10 harrowing examples of just this, and show 10 beautiful cities that have been torn apart by war.
Beirut – Lebanon
Back in the early 1970’s, Beirut was often described as the ‘Paris of the Middle East’ due to its winding streets and beautiful French colonial architecture. All this changed in the mid 1970’s, as a 20-year-long civil war resulted in devastating damage to the city and its buildings. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the 1980’s also added to this destruction and resulted in much of the beautiful architecture getting damaged beyond repair.
Aleppo – Syria
The ‘Battle of Aleppo’ began in 2012 and has left the Syrian city in almost total ruin. The war between the Syrian Government and opposition forces has seen constant bombing of the city for the last 4 years. The use of barrel bombs has caused the death of thousands of people and devastated the once beautiful buildings of Aleppo, including the 12th century ancient Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo.
Hiroshima – Japan
On August 6th 1945 the Japanese city of Hiroshima was struck by a nuclear bomb, dropped by the United Stated, which caused total devastation across the entire city. The blast killed an estimated 80,000 people and injured a further 70,000. Three days later, the United States dropped a second nuclear bomb on Nagasaki, killing another 40,000 people and injuring a further 60,000. The bombs left both cities in ruins and the people felt the effects of the attack for decades to come.
Berlin – Germany
The 2nd World War had a devastating effect on the German city of Berlin. The once grand architecture of one of Germany’s largest cities was reduced to rubble, with many buildings and roads completely destroyed by the constant bombing by the Allied forces. The contrasting photos above show Berlin at the beginning of the 20th Century and again at the end of the 2nd World War, with many of the buildings mere skeletons of their former glory.
Warsaw – Poland
Warsaw was a major battle ground during the 2nd World War with the city being bombed right from the start. The Germans launched an air raid on Warsaw on 1st September 1939 (beginning WWII) and 26 days later Warsaw surrendered to the Nazis. The above photos show the beautiful city centre before the start of the war and the total devastation after the war had ended.
Dresden – Germany
Prior to the Second World War, Dresden was renowned for its beautiful buildings, charming architecture and rich culture, but the final months of WWII saw the city hit hard by the Allied forces. Constant bombing in February 1945 reduced the once great city scape to a smouldering ruin, with few buildings left intact, as the photo above shows.
Apamea – Syria
The ancient city of Apamea in Syria was seen as one of the world’s most impressive archaeological sites, but the civil war in Syria has led to looting, bombing and vast destruction of the historic city. ISIS forces have occupied the site for the last few years and, as the photos above demonstrate, it is feared that the ancient city has now been damaged beyond repair.
Valletta – Malta
The historic city of Valletta in Malta paid a heavy price during WWII. The German Luftwaffe carried out a brutal air raid on the 7th April 1942 which reduced large parts of the city to total ruin. One of the greatest casualties of the attack was the magnificent Royal Opera House, located in the heart of the city. The building was targeted by the raid and the bombings reduced the once grand structure to little more than rubble.
Kabul – Afghanistan
The 20th century was a very turbulent time for the Afghan city of Kabul, starting with the British invasion in 1938, the Soviet intervention in 1979, Taliban rule in 1996 and the US-led invasion in 2001. The uprisings and continued civil war in the late 20th century brought real devastation to the city, as the before and after photos above demonstrate.
Sarajevo – Bosnia
The war that swept through Bosnia between 1992-95 caused horrific damage to the whole country; the city of Sarajevo was hit particularly badly. The beautiful city was once famous for its mosques and minarets, but over 3 years of constant bombing reduced the buildings and architecture to little more than rubble. The war ended up claiming over 100,000 lives and left Sarajevo in an almost unrecognisable state of ruin.