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How Did These Famous Monuments and Landmarks Miraculously Survive WWII?

Vatican City, Italy

Parts of the Vatican City were bombed, but not destroyed. This is another rare instance when Allied forces did attempt to keep damages to a minimum, though multiple bombings were enacted throughout the war by the RAF and Allied planes. The concern was more for religious reasons and less for concern over the historic buildings.

Vatican City in 1944 after becoming occupied by British forces

Vatican City in 1944 after becoming occupied by British forces. Via/ Wikimedia Commons

Naples, Italy

The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples was another historic spot to suffer some damage, but it only took a few weeks for repairs to bring this building back into a service-ready state. Long-held as one of the most beautiful theaters in the world, the Teatro di San Carlo has been noted as the inspiration for many of the fine opera houses and theaters across Europe.

The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples Italy survived WWII with minimal damage.

The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples Italy survived WWII with minimal damage. Via/ Wikimedia Commons

St. Petersburg, Russia

The Bronze Horseman in St. Petersburg in camouflage from enemy aircraft.

The Bronze Horse in St. Petersburg in camouflage from enemy aircraft. Via/ Wiki Commons

The Siege of Leningrad lasted for the better part of three years, with the city of St. Petersburg attacked from the north by Finnish forces and from the south by Nazi troops. All the while the city’s residents were starved out by a German blockade, with the loss of life recorded at close to 1,000,000. Troops and citizens both refused to surrender despite the ever-worsening conditions. Though there was significant damage to the city, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, the Bronze Horseman, was camouflaged from aircraft as seen in the image above. Today, this monument still stands as a symbol of the city, seen below.

The Bronze Horseman in St. Petersburg survived WWII.

The Bronze Horse in St. Petersburg survived WWII. Via/ Wiki Commons

Warsaw, Poland

The bombing of Warsaw by the Germans left most of the city destroyed and few structures from before the war remained intact. Famous buildings still standing today are mostly the work of the extensive restorations done after WWII. Some estimates place the level of destruction at around 85% in Warsaw. The failed citizen uprising after the Germans took back control of the city motivated the Nazis to spitefully destroy synagogues, landmarks, and historic buildings. One historic site that was bombed, but not destroyed, was the Citadel, a fort compound dating back to the 19th century.

The Citadel in Warsaw, Poland.

The Citadel in Warsaw, Poland. Via/ Wiki Commons

These monuments and buildings were spared sometimes by concerted efforts to keep them standing, either by the enemy forces or by the troops within the city. At other times it was simply luck or poor targeting and aircraft that spared these beacons. While many historical sites in Europe were utterly destroyed by the bombing, it is amazing that some of the most important to these cities were either unscathed or in repairable condition.

If you enjoyed this then click the “Next Page” button to see incredible color photographs from World War II!

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