Looking at them today you would never think that these cities once lay in ruins

As you walk down the streets of these magnificent cities today it is impossible to image that there was a point in time when all you see before you was lying in ruins. But while some places were forever lost after being badly damaged by war or natural disaster, these cities have managed, like the mythical phoenix, to rise from the ashes.

Warsaw - Poland

As you walk around


buzzing capital today it is difficult to image that the city was once nothing more than a pile of rubble.


was heavily damaged by bombing during Germany's 1939 invasion of Poland. Five years later in 1944 retreating German forces raised the city to the ground in revenge for the Warsaw Uprising. After shelling the city, it is reported that German soldiers with flamethrowers were sent in to destroy anything that survived the bombing. However, after the war ended slowly the city rose again. What is most remarkable is that Warsaw's historic Old Market Square and parts of the UNESCO listed Old Town were rebuilt using the rubble left after the war.

Dresden - Germany

The night of February 13th 1945 marked the beginning of what would become one of the more controversial Allied missions of World War II - the bombing of Dresden. The

German city

, which was famous for its incredible baroque architecture, had for centuries been a cultural center of Europe as well as the historic capital of the Electors of Saxony. The RAF and the USAAF carried out four raids between February 13 and February 15, during which they dropped 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city. While the raids left the celebrated city in ruins, it is difficult to see the scale of the destruction today, with the city's most famous buildings including the Frauenkirche, Zwingler Palace and Opera House having been restored to their pre-war grandeur.

London - United Kingdom


has the rather unfortunate distinction of being the most war-damaged British city during World War II. The German bombing offensive, which became known as The Blitz, began on September 7 1940 and lasted for 37 weeks. It is believed that the Luftwaffe dropped 20,000 bombs on London over 71 missions. Some one million homes and buildings were destroyed during The Blitz. The reconstruction of one of the world's most spectacular capitals began the moment the bombings stopped.

Berlin - Germany

Approximately 80% of


was destroyed by the end of World War II. As you make your way through Germany's eternally cool capital you can't help but spot scars of the terrible destruction. Some areas were never rebuilt thus leaving strange empty spaces in the middle of the city. And yet despite this Berlin is widely regarded as one of the most livable, and beautiful, capitals in Europe.

Hiroshima - Japan

On August 6, 1945 an American bomber dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Along with the monumental civilian casualties, the vast majority of the city was destroyed, and to make matters worse those buildings that managed to survive the bomb were damaged against by a devastating typhoon that hit the city just a month later. The city's reconstruction began soon after the war, with the iconic 16th century Hiroshima Castle being rebuilt in the 1950s. Meanwhile the Genbaku Dome is now a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site and a world famous peace memorial.

Beirut - Lebanon

Lebanon's capital city

suffered unparalleled damage during the country's brutal 15 year long civil war, which raged between 1975 and 1990. However, today


has become symbolic with all that is modern and luxurious. Instead of rebuilding the badly damaged old buildings, the private company which was tasked with the reconstruction chose to erect new modern structures instead. While critics complain that this has in effect erased the city's past, it is difficult not to fall in love with this buzzing modern capital.

Mostar - Bosnia and Herzegovina

The magnificent city of Mostar, which stands on the Neretva River in

Bosnia and Herzegovina

, has been famous throughout Europe for centuries for its magnificent architecture, including the iconic 16th century

Stari Most

, and mixture of Islamic, Catholic and Serb Orthodox cultures. However, the city's location made it of great strategic importance during the Bosnian War. After the three year conflict finally came to an end Mostar was left in ruins. But recent years have seen numerous international organizations fund reconstruction of the historic city, which has since slowly returned to its majestic former self.

Tokyo - Japan

On September 1st 1923


, along with Yokohama and other cities southern Honshu Island, was hit by devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake, which in turn triggered a tsunami. The 1923 Great Kant? earthquake, as it is now known, resulted in a monstrous fire which destroyed most of Tokyo's wooden buildings. Today historians consider the earthquake a turning point for Tokyo since it resulted in the first official attempt of reshaping the Japanese capital into a modern city.

Lisbon - Portugal

On November 1st 1755


was hit by a devastating earthquake which was soon followed by an equally destructive tsunami. The fire caused by the natural disasters reportedly burned for five days, during which time it destroyed palaces, cathedrals, libraries and thousands of homes, in fact historians now believe over 85% of the city was left in ruins. The effects of the earthquake spread beyond Lisbon, throughout Portugal even putting an end to the country's colonial ambitions. However despite this catastrophe today Lisbon shines as one of Europe's most architecturally stunning and culturally rich capitals.

San Francisco - United States of America

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake remains one of the most destructive natural disasters to hit the United State. On April 18 the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit what was then one of the main cultural and financial centers of western

United States

. Between the earthquake and the fires that were caused by it San Francisco was left in ruins. However, by 1915, less than a decade after the devastating natural disaster, the city had risen from the ashes. The new San Francisco had wider streets as well as newly developed areas such as Pacific Heights. Appropriately the city also hosted the 1915 World's Fair, which celebrated both the completion of the Panama Canal and San Francisco's miraculous resurrection.

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