When traveling through Europe, it is still very easy to see in many places the trail left by the wounds of World War II. The conflict wiped out centuries of art, treasures and history, that time had gathered across the geography of the old continent.
Germany received its share, and saw how most of its urban centers were reduced to a pile of rubble. Luckily, human stupidity didn't took it all. A handful of small cities were left standing, to remind everyone what we missed out on.
This list is a selection of the biggest and most important cities that were spared during the Second World War. They were little or never bombed. A wise surrender on time, without a fight to advancing allied troops, left many of these fortunate towns untouched by the ravages of the war. Also it is not to be forgotten that once the peace was signed, the historic buildings had still to fight not to be torn down, to be replaced by newer ones.
The nearly unscathed medieval centre of Goslar is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the old mining industries of the area. The city survived the conflict without major damage thanks to a capitulation, that handed over the town intact to the Americans. Image by Goslar Marketing GmbH / Stefan Schiefer
With its historical monuments set in a romantic environment and the prestige of be considered as the German Cambridge, it is easy to see why Heidelberg is such a popular tourist destination. The civilian population surrendered without resistance, one day after retiring Wehrmacht's combat units had left the city. Image by Till Meinhof
Regensburg is a remarkably well-preserved medieval town, one of the oldest of the country. It also holds the UNESCO World Heritage Status. The Bavarian city suffered comparatively little damage, almost only having to regret the loss of the old monastery of Obermünster in an air raid. Image by Karsten Dörre
Tübingen is a vibrant university town with superb medieval architecture that remained practically undamaged. On the initiative of the German garrison doctor, the city surrendered without a fight to the French troops.
Image by Marlene Bitzer
Bamberg is a small town of beautiful timber-framed houses, also declared UNESCO World Heritage. It experienced no heavy ground fighting when it was occupied by troops of the US Army.
Image by Bamberg Tourism and Congress Service
During WWII, Lüneburg was almost completely spared allied bombings which destroyed many of its neighboring cities. Since them, the beautiful Altstadt has been gradually restored. Historical fact: Nazi Germany signed the unconditional surrender that brought the war in Europe to an end in the outskirts of the city. Image by Lena
Göttingen is another university town in the very center of Germany. It spared massive bombing as well, as it did not present a target of opportunity. Only about 1% of the city was destroyed, including the Junkernschänke, a historic and popular house. Image by Göttingen Tourismus e.V.
Celle is well-known for its magnificent ducal palace, and its well-preserved old town. The city suffered only one serious bombing attack in World War II. Destruction rate: About 2.2%
Image by Celle Tourismus und Marketing GmbH
Wolfenbüttel is home of the world-famous herbal liqueur Jägermeister. This is an attractive and historic town, with half-timbered houses and buildings in the Renaissance style, that survived the conflict more or less intact.
Image by Stadt Wolfenbuettel H.D. König
Marburg was designated as a hospital city, so that its ensemble of cobblestone streets packed with lovely traditional houses remained complete. In this university town you can enjoy splendid picture postcard settings without the hassle of tourists.
The small city of Ravensburg succeed to scape from bomb damage, as it was strategically of no relevance. The fact is that it experienced economic stagnation for the last two centuries. As a result, many of its older buildings got through the Industrial Revolution and later, the war without much change. Image by Thomas Keller
Wiesbaden, with a higher destruction rate of around an 18% of its buildings, lies at the limit to be excluded from this list. The good news is that the only serious bombing that caused most of the damage, didn't touch the center. As it was in a much better condition that its bigger neighbor Frankfurt, the U.S. Air Forces established here its Headquarters.
Image by Martin Fisch
And finally Görlitz, the jewel of the crown. This is the largest city in Germany that survived WW2 without damage. With scarcely a scratch on its medieval old town, surrounded by gorgeous 19th century architecture, this place is truly unique. It is interesting the story of a mysterious anonymous donor that gives a large sum of cash every year; They are only two conditions: his identity has to remain secret, and the money has to be spent on renovation work of the historical heritage. Also many movies have been filmed here in the last years (like Grand Budapest Hotel), so now the town is also known as Görliwood. Image by Atlas of Wonders