SkyscraperCity banner

1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
388 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The Most Beautiful European City Before WWII

While it is true that the European cities we often hold to be quintessentially beautiful today (Paris, Prague, Vienna, Rome etc.) have long been so, how did they compare to those cities that were irreparably altered by the ravages of time and (in particular) WWII? Were they still be deemed the 'most beautiful', or did they have some stiff competition? What do you think?

Please post pictures if possible, whether they be modern photos that demonstrate the beauty that still exists, or images of lost cityscapes trapped in the amber of the moment :)

For example:

Berlin:










Dresden:











Credit: Soren5en




Warsaw:





 

·
Boby Bola
Idemin
Joined
·
30 Posts
If I hear the beauty of it that is in Europe I really really want to visit there but when I do not know
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,318 Posts
A good friend who was much older that i and is now long passed on, told me how his father could see the tragedy of another war coming in the 1930s and took the entire family on a vast European tour. The father felt the next war, unlike The Great War, would lay waste to the continent and the cities, in addition to the ungodly human loss likely to be on par with The Great War.

His goal was to see the greatest and most beautiful cites before they disappeared, at least in terms of how they currently existed in the 1930s. Some of the cities they visited were:

Berlin
Vienna
Munich
Florence
Venice
Breslau
Baden Baden
Hamburg
St Gallen
Strasbourg
Karlsruhe
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
388 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Berlin
Vienna
Munich
Florence
Venice
Breslau
Baden Baden
Hamburg
St Gallen
Strasbourg
Karlsruhe
Sounds like an amazing trip :) Luckily for him, 6 of these came out of the war largely undamaged, and Munich and Breslau (Wrocław) were rebuilt quite tastefully. Berlin, Karlsruhe, and Hamburg were not so fortunate, sadly.

To my tastes, Vienna was and still is one of Europe's (and the world's) most beautiful cities.





 

·
Registered
Joined
·
45 Posts
Sounds like an amazing trip :) Luckily for him, 6 of these came out of the war largely undamaged, and Munich and Breslau (Wrocław) were rebuilt quite tastefully. Berlin, Karlsruhe, and Hamburg were not so fortunate, sadly.

To my tastes, Vienna was and still is one of Europe's (and the world's) most beautiful cities.
Vienna is beautiful, and also one of my favourite city, but I cannot understand why many people think that Vienna was not much damaged? Only in inner part (inside the Ringerstrasse) more than a hundred buildings which were replaced, and never rebuild. Many palaces, theatres, nice residential houses just have gone. Even more buildings were recovered in a much simpler form.

Very small amount of buildings which are gone:




Stefansplatz how it was:



Place where you can find nowadays a lot of ugly concrete boxes:


This building in front of the theatre also does not exist anymore instead we have also the concrete box:


All this picture I took from wikipedia and ÖNB.
 

·
Kinky Christian
Joined
·
3,203 Posts
In terms of historic beauty for me Paris is the capital of Europe, it always felt that way, regardless if it was in the before or the post war period. Mostly because before both WWI and II they had the Belle Époque, which gave the city some of the world's best renowned landmarks.
The Eiffel holds a value of a landmarks as big as the Statue of Liberty, or the Roman Colosseum - Amphitheatrum Flavium, or the Athenian Parthenon.
It was the new wonder on this continent, in the right place, because the French always had the best ideas about what Europe should be, after all they were the ones to propose the European Union, all for the sake to bring us closer - after what happened in the 40's.
Even the flag of the EU (created 1955) has a deep dark blue color, most definitely influenced by Yves Klein, who's minimalist paintings has sold for $21,000,000 for the Monochromatic Gold painting, and $36.4 millions in 2012 for the FC1 (1962) painting. He was a strong influencer in the middle of the XX century Europe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
133 Posts
I don't really understand why people put Hamburg on the list of the cities lost during the Second World War. Most of the old, half-timbered, hanseatic Hamburg was lost in the 1842 fire, and in the following decades when much of the center was redeveloped (to such a massive scale that the city, officially referred to as the "Hanseatic City of Hamburg", came to be nicknamed "Demolished City of Hamburg"). The Hamburg that the British bombers found was essentially a modern city, and even so, the bombing of Hamburg was different than that of other cities, in that the areas most affected were densely-populated working-class neighborhoods rather than the center. Even in the center, many of the buildings that were damaged were made of stone rather than wood, and thus the outer walls remained standing and were more easily salvaged afterwards.

This particularity explains the huge death toll, and it also, perhaps ironically, means that, among German cities, Hamburg actually has one of the highest concentrations of pre-war buildings in its center, with the caveat that they are mostly buildings from the late 19th and early 20th century. Many streets in the old town area are lined up with very interesting pre-war buildings (just check the list of architectural monuments to convince yourselves), but because they're fairly modern, they do not appear to have the old world charm that one associates with Germany.

Hamburg is definitely one of the most beautiful and architecturally-rich major German cities, alongside Munich.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,651 Posts
I wish I could see dresden and frankfurt before the war

I think the most beautiful is London, I love its architectural diversity, Barcelona is my second

And most poeple who go to Vienna on a trip are only there a while and probably dont know the city as well as you or other locals who see many different parts of it all of the time, and from my short trip my impression was that it was astoundingly beautiful so thats probably why people think it wasnt bombed, maybe its just the touristy areas that are more preserved then?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,910 Posts
I don't really understand why people put Hamburg on the list of the cities lost during the Second World War. Most of the old, half-timbered, hanseatic Hamburg was lost in the 1842 fire, and in the following decades when much of the center was redeveloped (to such a massive scale that the city, officially referred to as the "Hanseatic City of Hamburg", came to be nicknamed "Demolished City of Hamburg"). The Hamburg that the British bombers found was essentially a modern city, and even so, the bombing of Hamburg was different than that of other cities, in that the areas most affected were densely-populated working-class neighborhoods rather than the center. Even in the center, many of the buildings that were damaged were made of stone rather than wood, and thus the outer walls remained standing and were more easily salvaged afterwards.

This particularity explains the huge death toll, and it also, perhaps ironically, means that, among German cities, Hamburg actually has one of the highest concentrations of pre-war buildings in its center, with the caveat that they are mostly buildings from the late 19th and early 20th century. Many streets in the old town area are lined up with very interesting pre-war buildings (just check the list of architectural monuments to convince yourselves), but because they're fairly modern, they do not appear to have the old world charm that one associates with Germany.

Hamburg is definitely one of the most beautiful and architecturally-rich major German cities, alongside Munich.
This. Agree 100%, of the German speaking bigger cities, Hamburg is up there with Vienna, Munich and Leipzig in terms of best preserved centre and general character of the city. Although operation "Gomorrah" was the deadliest singular attack on a German city in WW2, causing basically a quarter of the built area to go up in flames in the course of a week in the summer of 1943, it hit the workers' quarters in the Eastern and Southeastern parts of the city hardest.

In addition to that, as you said, Hamburg had either lost or replaced almost all of its "combustible", typically German city centre before anyway, so that most of the centre consisted of thoroughly-built Gründerzeit architecture which survived WW2 surprisingly well, same goes for the UNESCO areas of brick expressionism (Kontorhausviertel) and the Speicherstadt that both survived largely unscathed.

On top of that, Hamburg boasts one of the most extensive and well preserved Gründerzeit residential areas in all of Germany with a very unique style of building, a large part of the districts of Winterhude, Harvestehude, Eimsbüttel and Ottensen, Altona and Eppendorf are very well preserved with either all-white or a very elegant red-and-white style of Gründerzeit town extension which is a must-see for every lover of this style of architecture, the area around Isestraße, Klosterstern, Hochallee, incredible while at the same time extremely urban, somewhere in the German part of this forum, there was a guy that had used some tool to calculate population density and the area north of the Alster (basically Winterhude) had the highest density found in any German city.

I still haven't found the time to shoot some photos, but I will one day to show you.

Hamburg, although logically and geographically being one of the prime targets of the Allied bomber raids, and despite the catastrophic destruction in its Eastern half (which still is a rather dreary sight) is probably one of the cities that lost the least in terms of serious pre-war sights in Germany, it's basically all still there, or at least more than in almost any other city with the notable exception of Leipzig and Munich, maybe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
45 Posts
And most poeple who go to Vienna on a trip are only there a while and probably dont know the city as well as you or other locals who see many different parts of it all of the time, and from my short trip my impression was that it was astoundingly beautiful so thats probably why people think it wasnt bombed, maybe its just the touristy areas that are more preserved then?
All this buildings what I showed in previous post situated in tourist centre. For better understanding how it looks now I repeat this pictures and also put pictures from google street view. And this is really super tourist centre. What is going on outside I even don't want to think hundreds and thousand buildings were replaced. Especially I regret about theatres and palaces.

1



2




3





4





5.





6.



 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,317 Posts
I would say most German cities, however, I wouldn't cry for Vienna as the city relatively speaking is very intact.

Another city that has lost a lot of its built environment and seen a collapse in population: from 850 000 in the 1930s to under 500 000 today (same level as in the 1860s) is Liverpool.

Liverpool used to be quite the Atlantic Metropolis:





















 

·
mhji
Joined
·
171 Posts
I do not agree. One can discuss whether Dresden is "lost", as large parts of the important signature buildings are repaired or made replicas of.


Some bombed german cities where not reconstructed in the original way, and they are the ones I will label "lost". Take look at Konigsberg for instance, Kassel, Hanover Ulm, Darmstadt etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
679 Posts
In terms of historic beauty for me Paris is the capital of Europe, it always felt that way, regardless if it was in the before or the post war period. Mostly because before both WWI and II they had the Belle Époque, which gave the city some of the world's best renowned landmarks.
The Eiffel holds a value of a landmarks as big as the Statue of Liberty, or the Roman Colosseum - Amphitheatrum Flavium, or the Athenian Parthenon.
It was the new wonder on this continent, in the right place, because the French always had the best ideas about what Europe should be, after all they were the ones to propose the European Union, all for the sake to bring us closer - after what happened in the 40's.
Even the flag of the EU (created 1955) has a deep dark blue color, most definitely influenced by Yves Klein, who's minimalist paintings has sold for $21,000,000 for the Monochromatic Gold painting, and $36.4 millions in 2012 for the FC1 (1962) painting. He was a strong influencer in the middle of the XX century Europe.
London is the capitol of Europe in probably all ways, and also when it comes to historic beauty. Why? Because of its architectural diversity that somebody before me wrote.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
398 Posts
I do like London more than most European cities. It does have a charming human scale, love its picturesque leafy squares, gorgeous Georgian terraces, large landscaped parks and the variety of architectural styles. But I'm not too impressed with its relationship to the Thames and the street pattern is a bit jumbled, shame a few more grand avenues weren't cut into the medieval fabric. Pall Mall, Piccadilly and Strand-Fleet Street from Trafalgar Square are very grand.

But London does not have the grandeur and scale of Paris and Paris does indeed have a great downtown cluster at La Defense. And the Seine which the city seems to embrace is within reach. Then there's the Champs Ellysees from Place D'Etoile to the Tuileries leading and the Louvre, truly incomparable. The uniformity of Paris, at times dull and disorienting affords it great views and unsurpassed urban beauty and drama. Nothing like it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,317 Posts
I do like London more than most European cities. It does have a charming human scale, love its picturesque leafy squares, gorgeous Georgian terraces, large landscaped parks and the variety of architectural styles. But I'm not too impressed with its relationship to the Thames
What was done to London's riverbanks postwar was criminal. Indeed even now the buildings they have constructed next to the Tower constitute a planning disaster. The crap along the Thames is probably London's greatest weakness.

Paris, and even smaller cities like Barcelona are indeed grander than London when it comes to planning, however, I do think there is something really impressive about London that originates in its great size and many fine buildings. And while squares like Place de la Concorde are monumental they are massively overdimensioned and lacking in charm.
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Top