April 25, 2015

1432, 1538 SPAIN (Extremadura) - Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (UNESCO WHS)

1432 Mérida (Emerita Augusta) - Roman amphitheatre and theatre

Posted on 31.01.2015, 25.04.2015
The Roman colony of Emerita Augusta (present day Mérida) was founded in 25 BC by Augustus, to resettle emeritus soldiers discharged from the Roman army from two veteran legions of the Cantabrian Wars: Legio V Alaudae and Legio X Gemina. Three years later it became the capital of the new Roman province of Lusitania, which included approximately all of modern Portugal south of the Douro river and part of modern Spain (Extremadura and a small part of Salamanca, in Castile and León). The well-preserved remains of the old city include, in particular, a large bridge over the Guadiana, an amphitheatre, a theatre, a vast circus and an exceptional water-supply system. It is an excellent example of a provincial Roman capital during the empire and in the years afterwards.

1538 Mérida (Emerita Augusta) - Mithraeum House

The Roman Theatre was built from 16 to 15 BC and dedicated by the consul  Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. It was renovated in the late 1st or early 2nd century AD, possibly by the emperor Trajan, and again between 330 and 340 during Constantine's reign. With the advent of Christianity as Rome's sole state religion, theatrical performances were officially declared immoral: the theatre was abandoned and most of its fabric was covered with earth, leaving only its upper tiers of seats (summa cavea). In Spanish tradition, these were known as "The Seven Chairs" in which it is popularly thought that several Moorish kings held court to decide the fate of the city.

April 24, 2015

1537 NAMIBIA - Ju/'hoansi bushmen in Eastern Bushmanland


Khoisan is a unifying name for two groups of peoples of Southern Africa, who share physical and putative linguistic characteristics distinct from the Bantu majority of the region. Culturally, they are divided into the foraging San (or Bushmen), and the pastoral Khoi, previously known as Hottentots. The San include the indigenous inhabitants of the region before the southward Bantu migrations from Central and East Africa. Over time, some Khoi abandoned pastoralism and adopted the hunter-gatherer economy of the San, and are now considered San. Similarly, the Bantu Damara people who migrated south abandoned agriculture and adopted the Khoi economy. Large Khoisan populations remained in some arid areas, notably in the Kalahari Desert.

April 23, 2015

1536 POLAND (Subcarpathian) - Dubiecko Castle


Dubiecko is a village located at 36km southeast of Rzeszów, in which is situated the castle with the same name, in nowadays became hotel. The building was the birthplace of Stanislaw Stadnicki (1551-1610), a nobleman known as troublemaker, called The Devil of Łańcut for his violent behaviour. Enemy of  Jan Zamoyski, Grand Chancellor of the Crown, in 1606 he became one of the leaders of the rokosz of Zebrzydowski. After his death, his family continued the "tradition", with his wife earning the nickname of The Łańcut Devil-woman and his sons, The Łancut Devil-children. He is one of the characters on the painting by Jan Matejko: Kazanie Skargi (The Sermon of Piotr Skarga).

0373, 0448, 0454, 0818, 1535 HUNGARY (Budapest) - Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue (UNESCO WHS)

0373 Budapest - Hungarian Parliament Building 1

The history of what will became Budapest began with Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement that became, in the beginning of the Christian era, the capital of the Roman province Pannonia Inferior. The Huns, Lombards, Avars and Slavs passed through there, and in 829 Pannonia was annexed by the First Bulgarian Empire, which built two military frontier fortresses, Buda and Pest, situated on the two banks of Danube. At the end of the 9th century, the Magyar clan of Árpád arrived in the territory. Their first settlement was pillaged by the Mongols in 1241-1242. The re-established town became one of the centres of Renaissance humanist culture in the 15th century. Following the Battle of Mohács (1526) and nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule, the region entered a new age of prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries, the city becaming a global one after the 1873 unification of Buda, Pest and Óbuda. It also became the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, dissolved in 1918, after the WWI.

1535 Budapest - Hungarian Parliament Building by night

Because Budapest offers one of the world's outstanding urban landscapes, and it kept the remains of monuments such as the Roman city of Aquincum and the Gothic castle of Buda (which have had a considerable influence on the architecture of various periods), but also because in the19th century and in the beginning of the 20th century was a centre which absorbed, integrated and disseminated outstanding and progressive European influences of urbanism and of architecture as well as modern technological developments, Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue was designated by UNESCO a World Heritage Site in 1987 (with an extension in 2002).

Hungarian Parliament Building (Országház) - posted on 09.01.2013, 23.04.2015

0818 Budapest - Hungarian Parliament Building 2

It has 268 m length, 123 m wide, and 96 m height, being one of the two tallest buildings in Budapest, along with Saint Stephen's Basilica. The number 96 refers to the 1000th anniversary of the country in 1896, when it was inaugurated (even if was completed only in 1904). Its interior includes 10 courtyards, 13 passenger and freight elevators, 27 gates, 29 staircases and 691 rooms. Its architect, Imre Steindl, went blind before its completion.

It's about Országház (which literally means "House of the Country"), the Hungarian Parliament Building (in the first two postcards), located on Lajos Kossuth Square, on the bank of the Danube. Similar to the Palace of Westminster, it was built in the Gothic Revival style, and it has a symmetrical facade (where are displayed statues of Hungarian rulers, Transylvanian leaders and military commanders) and a central dome. In interior are other statues, including those of Árpád, Stephen I and John Hunyadi. The Holy Crown of Hungary, which is also depicted in the coat of arms of Hungary, is also displayed in the central hall since 2000.

The Fishermen's Bastion (Halászbástya) - posted on 06.01.2013

0448 Budapest - The Fishermen's Bastion

Located in Budapest, on the Castle hill, behind the sanctuary of the Matthias Church, on the Buda bank of the Danube, the Fishermen's Bastion (Halászbástya) is a terrace in neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style which offers a splendid view of the Danube and Pest. It was named after the guild of fishermen, which lived nearby in Watertown (Vízívaros), at the foot of the hill, and was responsible for defending this stretch of the city walls in the Middle Ages. An old fish market also sat at this location during medieval times.

Designed by architect Frigyes Schulek and built between 1899 and 1905, the white-stoned Fisherman's Bastion is a combination of neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque architecture and consists of turrets, projections, parapets, and climbing stairways. The bastion is made up of seven towers - each one symbolizing one of the seven Magyar tribes that, in 896, settled in the area now known as Hungary. A monumental double stairway, decorated with reliefs of coats-of-arms and various motifs, connects the bastion with the streets below. Between 1947-1948, the son of Frigyes Schulek, János Schulek, conducted the restoration project after its destruction during WWII.

Heroes' Square (Hősök tere)  - posted on 30.09.2013

0454 Budapest - Heroes' Square

Located at the end of Andrássy Avenue, next to City Park, Heroes' Square is one of the major squares of Budapest, rich with historic and political connotations. The central site of the square is the Millennium Memorial, with statues of the leaders of the seven tribes that founded Hungary in the 9th century (Árpád, Előd, Ond, Kond, Tas, Huba, and Töhötöm) and other outstanding figures of Hungarian history (on the left colonnade - Stephen I, Ladislaus I, Coloman, Andrew II, Béla IV, Charles I, Louis I; on the right colonnade - John Hunyadi, Matthias Corvinus, István Bocskay, Gabriel Bethlen, Imre Thököly, Francis II Rákóczi, Lajos Kossuth). At the front of the monument is a large stone cenotaph surrounded by an ornamental iron chain, and directly behind it is a column topped by a statue of the archangel Gabriel.

Its construction was started when the one thousandth anniversary was celebrated (in 1896), but it was finished only in 1900 and the square got its name then. Because when the monument was constructed Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the last five spaces for statues on the left of the colonnade were reserved for members of the ruling Habsburg dynasty, but the monument was damaged in WWII and when it was rebuilt the Habsburgs were replaced by the current figures.

1534 UNITED KINGDOM (British Indian Ocean Territory) - Little green heron


The biodiversity of the BIOT is very rich, particularly in the marine environment which contains some of the world's healthiest coral reefs, the world's largest coral atoll (the Great Chagos Bank) and an exceptional diversity of deep water habitats. On land, BIOT is recognised as globally important due to the large numbers of congregating and nesting seabirds. The birds of the BIOT fall into three groups: the resident landbirds, the migrants and vagrants, and the seabirds. Only three resident landbirds are believed to have arrived as natural colonists: Common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), White-breasted waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus), and Green-backed Heron (Butorides striata).

April 22, 2015

1533 KAZAKHSTAN - Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly (UNESCO WHS)


Set around the lush Tamgaly Gorge, amidst the vast, arid Chu-Ili mountains, Tamgaly (which in Kazakh means "painted or marked place") is a remarkable concentration of some 5,000 petroglyphs dating from the second half of the second millennium BC to the beginning of the 20th century. The majority are in the main canyon, but there are a number in the many side canyons, distributed among 48 complexes with associated settlements and burial grounds. They are testimonies to the husbandry, social organization and rituals of pastoral peoples. A huge number of ancient tombs are also to be found including stone enclosures with boxes and cists (middle and late Bronze Age), and mounds (kurgans) of stone and earth (early Iron Age to the present).

April 21, 2015

1532 NAGORNO-KARABAKH - Gandzasar monastery


Laid in 1216 by the prince of Khachen, Hasan Jalal Vahtangian, Gandzasar Monastery stands atop of the mount with the same name, actually a large green hill that rises above the historical town of Vank, in de facto  Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (de jure: Kalbajar Rayon of Azerbaijan). Named so (Gandzasar means in Armenian "treasure mountain") due to ancient copper and silver mines found in the vicinity, it is now the seat of the Archbishop of Artsakh appointed by the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and holds relics believed to belong to St. John the Baptist and his father St Zechariah. It is a walled abbey with both ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical buildings, the centerpiece of which is the Cathedral of St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist), a large church with a cupola in the inscribed cross plan.

April 20, 2015

1531 INDONESIA (Jakarta) - National Monument in Jakarta


First of all, I must thank for this wonderful maxicard to Barbel Plinke, but also all those who signed on it. The maxicard was edited with the ocasion of a meet-up of the Indonesian postcrossers (which held in Jakarta on March 28, 2015), and depicts the National Monument, located in the centre of Merdeka Square, Central Jakarta (watercolor painting by Rihwan Satriyaji). This 132m high tower, topped by a flame covered with gold foil, symbolise the struggle for Indonesian independence. The monument, designed by Frederich Silaban and R.M. Soedarsono, consists of a 117.7m obelisk (clad with Italian marble) on a 45m square platform at a height of 17m, and was build between 1961 and 1975.

April 19, 2015

1530 BELARUS - Belarusian traditional ornaments


Textile is one of the most ancient art forms in Belarus, and the geometric ornaments are so important in this country, that are present on its national flag. It was taken from a hand towel embroidered in 1917 by Matrena Markevich from the village of Kastsilishcha, Senna district. Many of these ornaments are pre-Christian, being used in sacred East Slavic rituals, religious services and ceremonial events such as weddings and funerals, and, although they have undergone some changes over time, they have survived until today. The ritual cloth embroidered with symbols and cryptograms of the ancient world is named Rushnyk. Each region has its own designs and patterns with hidden meaning, passed down from generation to generation.

April 18, 2015

0255, 1529 RUSSIA - Matryoshka

Three Matryoshkas from a series containing 30 pieces
with the pictures illustrating Ruslan and Ludmila

In 2001 was inaugurated, just in the Moscow's center, in the building of Russian Folk Arts Fund, where the first Matryoshka doll was created in the end of the XIX century, the Museum Of Russian Matryoshka, the first official collection of Matryoshka dolls in Russia. Matryoshka dolls are a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size, placed one inside the other, and appeared in Russia at the end of 1890's, in a Moscow craft workshop named Children's Education, the first being carved by Vasily Zvyozdochkin, from a design by Sergey Malyutin. The concept was borrowed from Japan, but was further developed in Russia. Depending of the author's imagination, the themes for the decoration of nesting dolls were ethnographic, historical or fairy tale.

"Autumn Matryoshka Doll with a Cat" - by Lubov Fetisova

Matryoshka, generally recognized at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900, became more and more popular, and in 1910 a crafts workshop named Amateur Artist was set up in Sergiev Posad. It was always interesting and even instructive, because by gathering a collection get enough information about the history of Russian national costume, Russia epos, and even Russian literature. The variety of nesting dolls was achieved by the number of pieces mainly ranging from 3 to 12. There exist "supermatryoshkas" having 48 or 60 pieces but these are unique.