July 1, 2015

1708 TURKEY (Marmara Region) - Karagöz (UNESCO ICH)


Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire, between 1335 and 1363, and for that reason represents one of the richest legacies of the early Ottoman art and architecture. On the other hand, the city is famous for its Iskender Kebap, one of the best dishes of world, for the candied chestnuts (Kestane Sekeri), and for its unique peaches. As for something to purchase, Bursa is a center of the silk trade (since first silk cocoons were brought here with the caravans of the Silk Road) and towel manufacturing. It is also the homeland of the very famous Turkish folklore figures, Karagöz and Hacivat shadow puppets.

1707 FRANCE (New Caledonia) - Western coast of Lifou Island

Lifou Island or Drehu in the local language is the largest (81km long and 16 to 24km wide), most populous and most important island of the Loyalty Islands, in the archipelago of New Caledonia. Irregular in shape, it is flat with no hills or rivers, but has abundant vegetation, dense interior jungles, fertile soils, terraced cliffs and breath taking reefs and corals. The coast is cut by long and deep bays alternating with long white sandy beaches and cliffs trenches. Actually Lifou Island is a former coral atoll that was part of a submerged volcano. The freshwater comes from rain that seeps through the calcareous soil and forms freshwater ponds.

1706 VATICAN CITY - A halbardier of the Pontifical Swiss Guard guarding the statue of Saint Peter Enthroned

As the Vatican City is an enclave within Italy, its military defence is provided by the Italian armed forces, so it has no armed forces of its own. The Palatine Guard and the Noble Guard, the last armed forces of the Vatican City, were disbanded by Pope Paul VI in 1970. The Swiss Guard is a military corps of the Holy See responsible for the personal security of the Pope. At the end of 2005, the Guard had 134 members. Swiss mercenaries were historically recruited by Popes as part of an army for the Papal States, and the Pontifical Swiss Guard was founded by Pope Julius II on 22 January 1506 as the pope's personal bodyguard. Recruitment is arranged by a special agreement between the Holy See and Switzerland.

1705 UNITED KINGDOM (Turks and Caicos Islands) - Turks and Caicos rock iguana

The Turks and Caicos rock iguana (Cyclura carinata carinata) is a critically endangered species of lizard endemic to these islands, which are home to 50,000 rock iguanas, the healthiest population in the Caribbean. Its generic name (Cyclura) is derived from the Ancient Greek cyclos meaning "circular" and ourá meaning "tail", after the thick-ringed tail characteristic of all Cyclura. Carinata means "keeled" and refers to the animal's scales. It has one subspecies which lives on Booby Cay, Bartsch's iguana (Cyclura carinata bartschi).

1704 EAST TIMOR - A boy riding a Timor Pony

Strong, frugal, agile, and intelligent, the Timor Pony have a quiet and willing temperament, and is used by the local people for cattle work, as well as riding, driving, and light farm work. It has elements of two ancient horse breeds: the Tarpan, or Eurasian wild horse; and the Przewalski, or Asiatic wild horse. It has a narrow frame, short back, muscular neck, prominent withers, and a sloping croup. The shoulders tend to be straight, but the legs and feet are strong. It usually stand 10 to 12 hands high (102 to 122 cm), and is usually brown, black, and bay, less often gray.

June 30, 2015

1703 UNITED STATES (Louisiana) - The map of State of Louisiana

Bordered by Arkansas to north, Mississippi to the east, Texas to the west, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, Louisiana is nicknamed Bayou State or Child of the Mississippi, because much of the its lands were formed from sediment washed down the Mississippi River, leaving enormous deltas and vast areas of coastal marsh and swamp. The surface of the state may be divided into two parts, the uplands of the north, and the alluvial along the coast. The breadth of the alluvial region along the Mississippi is from 15 to 100 km. The higher hill lands of the north consist of prairie and woodlands. The elevations above sea level range from 3m to 18m, the highest point in the state being Driskill Mountain (163m). The southern coast of Louisiana is among the fastest-disappearing areas in the world.

1702 UNITED STATES (Massachusetts) - House of the Seven Gables in Salem

The House of the Seven Gables is a colonial mansion in  Salem, now a non-profit museum, became famous due to Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1851 novel with the same name. The earliest section of the house was built in 1667 for Captain John Turner,  the son of a former indentured servant from England who became a successful hat and shoe merchant. A few years later, Turner expanded the building, which remained in his family for three generations. When he died in 1680, he was one of the wealthiest men in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, with six homes, 200 acres of land and several ships working in Salem’s thriving maritime trade.

1701 BOTSWANA - Makgadikgadi Pan, Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, and Tuli Block (UNESCO WHS and Tentative List)

Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70% of its territory being the Kalahari Desert, but nevertheless has diverse areas of wildlife habitat. Lying southeast of the Okavango Delta and surrounded by the Kalahari Desert, the Makgadikgadi Pan is all that remained of a lake which dried up several thousand years ago, now being one of the largest salt flats in the world. Seasonally covered with water and grass, is a refuge for birds and animals. The fringes of the pan are salt marshes and further out these are circled by grassland and then shrubby savanna. Kubu Island is an igneous rock "island" located in the southwestern quadrant of Sua Pan, and contains a number of baobab trees (in the picture). These trees function as local landmarks, and one of them, named after James Chapman, served as an unofficial post office for 19th-century explorers. It was submitted in 2010 on the Tentative List of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

June 29, 2015

1209, 1700 SPAIN (Andalusia) - A bullfight in Plaza de Toros in Ronda

1209 - A poster of a corrida
in Plaza de Toros de Ronda

Posted on 27.08.2014, 29.06.2015
Bullfighting (Spanish: corrida de toros), also known as tauromachia or tauromachy, is a traditional spectacle of Spain, Portugal, southern France and some Hispanic American countries, in which bulls are fought in a bullring. Some followers of the spectacle prefer to consider it a fine art, and not a sport, because doesn't imply elements of competition. Today, the bullfight involves professional toreros (the most senior is called matador) who execute moves which differ according to the bullfighter's style or school. Such maneuvers are performed at close range, after the bull has been weakened by lances and short spears with barbs. The bullfight usually concludes with the killing of the bull by a single sword thrust (estocada).

1700 - SPAIN (Andalusia) - Ronda: 1. Puente Nuevo (New Bridge);
2. Plaza de Toros de Ronda.

Supporters of bullfighting argue that it is a culturally important tradition and a fully developed art form, whereas critics hold that it is a bloody sport, that causes suffering of bulls and horses. The Spanish introduced the practice of fighting bulls on foot around 1726.  Francisco Romero from Ronda is generally regarded as having been the first to do this. The modern style of Spanish bullfighting is credited to Juan Belmonte, generally considered the greatest matador of all time. In the traditional corrida, three matadores fight each with two bulls between four and six years old, with a weighs no less than 460kg. Each matador has six assistants: two picadores (lancers on horseback), three  banderilleros, and a mozo de espadas (sword page), which together form a cuadrilla (entourage).

1699 UNITED KINGDOM (Turks and Caicos Islands) - The white-sand beaches

The eight main islands and more than 299 smaller islands which constitute Turks and Caicos Islands have a total land area of 616.3 square kilometres, consisting primarily of low, flat limestone with extensive marshes and mangrove swamps and 332 square kilometres of beach front. Around the early 1980's, Turks and Caicos started to become a tourist destination, quickly becoming one the world's most premier beach destinations, due to their perfect white-sand beaches and calm turquoise waters. If in 1996 only about 87,000 tourists visited these islands, in 2010 a total of 245 cruise ships arrived at the Grand Turk Cruise Terminal, carrying a total of 617,863 visitors.