Few things are as jarring as before and after pictures of war-torn landscapes. Since the advent of urban warfare in the early 1900s, cities have often been heavily damaged, or even nearly destroyed by combat. In World War I, the Western Front calcified within months, meaning small cities like Arras, Ypres, and Verdun were fought over multiple times, often to the point of being strategically useless. Before and after war photos of these locations, and others, are startling. They show drastic differences and in many cases, depict the destruction of cultural heritage.
In World War II, strategic bombing turned the great cities of Europe and Japan, many of which had stood for centuries, into rubble-filled moonscapes. While these cities were rebuilt, they often stood ruined for years - a stark contrast to their cultural and economic glory in previous decades. Even now, cities in the Middle East, especially in Syria, are being wrecked by civil war and sectarian violence. And there's no telling when they'll be rebuilt.Here are some of the most drastically destroyed landscapes in the last century. While these cities have been restored for the most part, there's no way to quantify how many priceless works and buildings are gone forever.