Over the centuries, countless wars have occured, bringing the plague of destruction and death to entire cities. Having gone through an awe-inspiring revival, some of these cities are now symbols of hope, enthusiastically turned towards the future despite their painful pasts.
On August, 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima by the United States Air Force. The nuclear bomb, named "Little Boy", did tremendous damage, almost entirely wiping out the city's population and destroying the majority of its infrastructure. And the bomb didn't only bring immediate destruction, but also long-term havoc. The residual radiation killed at least an additional 20 000 people in the aftermath of the bombing.
It's now been over 70 years. The US and Japan are committed to peace and cooperation, proving it time and time again through diplomatic agreements and commercial deals. Hiroshima has also had time to recover. If shrines and memorials have been erected throughout the city to commemorate this chapter in Japan's history, Hiroshima, with its futuristic buildings and dynamic economy, does not dwell too much on the past.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Medellin was considered to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Drugs, corruption, and homicide ruled the place, and urban warfare raged in the streets. One of the most well-known drug lords was Pablo Escobar, a symbol of the reign of terror that the city endured during this difficult time. In the years following Escobar's death, Medellin has known an unprecedented revival.
Thanks to forward-looking mayors and community initiatives, Medellin's crime rate has significantly gone down, and poverty has also considerably decreased. Today, Medellin is a champion of inclusive economic development, integrating the poorest neighborhoods and creating opportunities for local businesses. The city is also wholeheartedly committed to the promotion of art, education, and environmental sustainability in its infrastructure and social programs.
The Second World War wreaked havoc everywhere in Europe, and the German capital in particular suffered great losses from the relentless bombing.
But as London and Paris were quickly recovering in the years following 1945, Berlin was thrown into another conflict, the Cold War. As an emblem of the East-West rivalry, Berlin externalized this divide through the infamous Berlin Wall. And as West Berlin was keeping in touch with the modern world, East Berlin was painfully falling behind. Poverty, lack of education, communist propaganda, and violence were part of daily life in East Berlin, from the construction of the wall in 1961 to its destruction in 1989.
Since reunification, what used to be East Berlin has been brought up to speed with its economically dynamic western counterpart. Now, the cultural pulsing heart of Germany can boast an avant-garde, effervescent, and joyous atmosphere, which has yet to be matched.
Before the Second World War broke out, Warsaw was known to be a magnificent city, whose nickname was "the Paris of the East". But in 1939, the city's fate seemed to have shifted for the worse. Invaded by Hitler's troops in September 1939, the city withstood a devastating month-long siege. As the stage of various uprisings and bombings throughout the war, Warsaw saw its population dwindle and its infrastructure crumble beyond repair over the course of the war. In 1945, over 80% of its buildings were in ruins, and the complete reconstruction of the city was initiated.
No longer the Paris of the East, Warsaw acquired the new title of "Phoenix City", as it beautifully rose from the ashes. Steeped in incredibly tormenting history, the city's awe-inspiring renaissance is absolutely unparalleled. Now a vibrant metropolis replete with jaw-dropping architecture and cultural marvels, Warsaw is turned towards a future filled with hope, where skyscrapers and picturesque streets harmoniously coexist.
From 1975 to 1990, Lebanon was the stage of a calamitous civil war with far-reaching consequences and over 120 000 fatalities. Since the war ended, prodigious reconstruction initiatives have been taken on by the government and the people.
Today, Beirut is an innovative and dynamic city, and acts as one of the Middle East's most important cultural and commercial centers. Its neighborhoods all offer a different vibe and their own range of treasures, from the edgy Badaro to the sophisticated Achrafieh to the picturesque Zuqaq al-Blat.
Beirut is one of the oldest cities in the world, and although it's been inhabited for over 5 000 years, it doesn't mean that history is the only thing that matters in Lebanon's capital. Despite a dark past, Beirut and its metropolitan wonders definitely have a bright future.