Countries have been at war countless times over the centuries. Buildings that stood for hundreds of years, in some cases, were bombed, set on fire or otherwise destroyed. In an effort to rebuild a country’s morale after such catastrophic events, the buildings themselves were rebuilt. It took a lot of time and effort, but the buildings on this list exist today — up from the debris they were reduced to in wartime. Here are four structures you didn’t realize were rebuilt after war.
St. Paul’s Cathedral (London, England)
Viking attacks, fires and civil wars destroyed St. Paul’s Cathedral in London over the years, and the structure had to be fully or partially rebuilt several times. One of the most recognizable buildings in the city, it was completed in 1710, and faced its most recent damage in 1940. Germans were dropping bombs on the city in World War II, but volunteers managed to save it from another destruction. Prime Minister Winston Churchill said the cathedral “must be saved at all costs.” And it was. In 1945, the cathedral was fully repaired and lit up to celebrate the end of the war.
Royal Castle (Warsaw, Poland)
Churches and cathedrals are often casualties of war, but during World War II, Warsaw — Poland’s capital city — was completely devastated. A prominent building and a symbol of the Polish monarchy was the Royal Castle. Built between 1568 and 1572, the building had suffered some damage over the years — turmoil in the 17th century, conflicts with Swedish troops in the early 1700s and bombing runs during World War I. However, during WWII, it faced a devastating blow by the Germans in a 1939 siege. After sitting virtually destroyed for years, the building finally collapsed in 1944 when the Germans blew up the castle’s damaged walls. Light reconstruction began immediately following the war in 1945, mainly clearing out the rubble. Officially, the country began reconstruction on the building in 1971 and it was completed in 1984.
Frauenkirche Dresden (Dresden, Germany)
Dresden, Germany, was completely leveled after three days of bombings in February 1945. The most prominent building destroyed was probably the city's Frauenkirche, a Protestant church, which lay in ruins for decades until Dresden citizens formed a special committee to rebuild and restore it to its former glory. The reconstruction began in 1994, using much of the building’s original materials, which had remained mostly in place for nearly 50 years. In 2005, the church finally opened for its first postwar service. “A deep wound that has bled for so long can be healed,” Bishop Jochen Bohl said at the church’s first sermon. “From hate and evil a community of reconciliation can grow, which makes peace possible.”
The White House (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.)
The first three U.S. presidents — George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson — never lived in the White House. They lived in what was originally known as the President’s House. It was the largest home in the nation at the time. When James Madison became president, the country entered into the War of 1812, and British troops were able to invade Washington, D.C., and burn down several buildings, including the President’s house, in 1814. James Hoban was appointed to rebuild the house and the country’s fifth president, James Monroe, moved into the building in 1817. It was renamed the White House, but wouldn’t be finished for several years. The south portico was constructed in 1824 and the building has had partial construction and numerous renovations over the years.