July 30, 2016

1935-1939, 2670 SAINT MARTIN - The map of the island and the flags of Saint Martin (France) and of Sint Maartin (Netherlands)

1935 The map of Saint Martin Island (1)

Posted on 04.10.2015, 30.07.2016
Located in the northeast Caribbean, between Anguilla and Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin is the smallest inhabited sea island divided between two nations, respectively between France (60%) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands (40%). The southern Dutch part comprises Sint Maarten and is one of four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the northern French part comprises the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and is an overseas collectivity of France.

1936 The map of Saint Martin Island (2)

The main cities are Philipsburg (Dutch side) and Marigot (French side). The Dutch side is more heavily populated, and the largest settlement on the entire island is Lower Prince's Quarter. The highest hilltop is the Pic Paradis (424m) in the center of a hill chain on the French side, but both sides are hilly with large mountain peaks. This forms a valley where many houses are located. There are no rivers on the island, but many dry guts. It has a tropical monsoon climate with a dry season from January to April and a rainy season from August to December.

1937 The map of Saint Martin Island (3)

Ancient relics date the island's first settlers, probably Ciboney Indians (a subgroup of Arawaks), back to 3,500 years ago. Their lives were turned upside-down with the descent of the Carib Indians, a warrior nation which killed the Arawak men and enslaved the women. In 1493 Christopher Columbus glimpsed the island and named it Isla de San Martín after Saint Martin of Tours because it was November 11, St. Martin Day, but Spain made the settlement of the island a low priority.

2670 The map of Saint Martin Island (4)

Instead, the French and Dutch coveted the island. While the French wanted to colonize the islands between Trinidad and Bermuda, the Dutch found San Martín a convenient halfway point between their colonies in New Amsterdam (present day New York) and Brazil. The Dutch, French and British founded settlements on the island. In 1633 Spanish forces captured Saint Martin from the Dutch, but in 1648 they deserted the island. Preferring to avoid an war, the French and Dutch signed in the same year the Treaty of Concordia, which divided the island in two, as it is now.

1938 Saint Martin - The border monument which celebrates
the peaceful coexistence of the French and Dutch on St. Martin (1)

With the cultivation of cotton, tobacco, and sugar, mass numbers of slaves were imported to work on the plantations, until the slave population became larger than that of the land owners. After abolition of slavery, plantation culture declined and the island's economy suffered. In 1939, Saint Martin received a major boost when it was declared a duty-free port. The Dutch began focusing on tourism in the 1950s. The French needed another twenty years to start developing their tourism industry.

1938 Saint Martin - The border monument which celebrates
the peaceful coexistence of the French and Dutch on St. Martin (2)

Currently, tourism provides the backbone of the economy for both sides of the island. St. Martin's Dutch side is known for its festive nightlife, beaches, jewellery, drinks made with native rum-based guavaberry liquors, and casinos. The island's French side is known for its nude beaches, clothes, shopping (including outdoor markets), and French and Indian Caribbean cuisine. Because the island is located along the intertropical convergence zone, it is occasionally threatened by tropical storm activity in the late summer and early fall.

July 27, 2016

2669 VIETNAM (Southeast) - Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon

Following the French conquest of Cochinchina, the Roman Catholic Church established a community and religious services for French colonialists. Thus, in 1863, Admiral Bonard decided to build a wooden church on the bank of Charner canal (Kinh Lớn). The construction was completed two years later and was called Saigon Church. When the wooden church was damaged by termites, all church services were held in the guest-chamber of the French Governor's Palace.

July 26, 2016

2668 FRANCE - A farmer and his span of oxen

It seems that the cattle were first harnessed and put to work around 4000 BC, and the castration of bulls to turn them into oxen have happened at about the same time. A little later, the yoke was invented in Mesopotamia and two oxen could be bound firmly together to pull much heavier plows. Light work required just one pair of oxes, while for heavier work, further pairs were added as necessary. A team used for a heavy load over difficult ground might exceeded nine or ten pairs.

July 25, 2016

2667 SPAIN (Community of Madrid) - The monument to Cervantes in Madrid

As is well known, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616) is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world's pre-eminent novelists. He owes his fame to Don Quixote, considered to be the first modern novel, and one of the best works of fiction ever written. In Plaza de España (Spanish for Square of Spain), located in central Madrid, is a monument to Cervantes, designed by architects Rafael Martínez Zapatero and Pedro Muguruza and sculptor Lorenzo Coullaut Valera.

0652, 0653, 1120, 2666 ITALY (Tuscany) - Historic centre of Florence (UNESCO WHS)

0652 Images of Florence

Posted on 21.05.2013, 27.06.2014, 25.07.2016
Founded by Romans as a settlement for veteran soldiers and named Fluentia, because it was built between two rivers, then successively ruled by Ostrogoths, Byzantines, and Lombards, Florence was conquered by Charlemagne in 774, but it surpassed the status of minor settlement only around 1000 A.D., after Margrave Hugo chose it as residency. From the 14th century to the 16th century, it was, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, one of the most important cities in Europe and the world, of political, economic and cultural point of view.

0653 Panorama of Florence (1)

Wealthy and brilliant, but with a turbulent history, furrowed by numerous religious and republican revolutions, Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. It was home for the famous Medici family and Savonarola, but also for Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Giotto, Boccaccio, Dante, Machiavelli, Galileo Galilei and many others. Because Historic Centre of Florence "attests in an exceptional manner, and by its unique coherence, to its power as a merchant-city of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance", in 1982 it became an UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the postcard 0652 can be seen:

2666 Panorama of Florence (2)

Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) - a Medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, noted for still having shops built along it.
A general view of Historic Centre.
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower), Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistry of St. John) and, in back, Campanile di Giotto (Giotto’s Campanile).
Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) - the principal Franciscan church in Florence, the burial place of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile and Rossini.

1120 The Baptistery of Saint John and Giotto’s Campanile

Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) - the town hall of the city, built in the 13th century.
Basilica of Santa Maria Novella - the first great basilica in Florence, and the city's principal Dominican church. Especially famous are frescoes by masters of Gothic and early Renaissance.
San Miniato al Monte (St. Minias on the Mountain) and the Bishop's Palace - placed on one of the highest points in the city, it has been described as one of the finest Romanesque structures in Tuscany and one of the most beautiful churches in Italy.

2665 MONGOLIA - A lama boy

Buddhism in Mongolia derives much of its recent characteristics from Tibetan Buddhism (of the Gelug and Kagyu lineages), which combines elements of the Mahayana and the Tantric schools with traditional Tibetan rituals of curing and exorcism, sharing the common Buddhist goal of individual release from suffering and the cycles of rebirth. Westerners use for Tibetan Buddhism the term "lamaism" (literally, "doctrine of the lamas": lama jiao) to distinguish it from a then traditional Chinese form (fo jiao).

July 23, 2016

2040, 2041, 2084, 2214, 2664 FRANCE (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) - Grenoble

2040 The map of Isère department and The Bastille in Grenoble

Posted on 16.11.2015, 29.11.2015, 14.01.2016, 23.07.2016
Located at the foot of the French Alps, where the river Drac joins the Isère, Grenoble is the capital city of the Isère department. The proximity of the mountains, as well as its size, has led to the city being known as the "Capital of the Alps". Its history goes back more than 2,000 years, at a time when it was a small Gallic village. While it gained in stature by becoming the capital of the Dauphiné in the 11th century, it remained for most of its history a modest parliamentary and garrison city on the borders of the Kingdom of France.

2041 Grenoble - The Isère's quai, the Bubbles,
the Marius Gontard Bridge, and Vercors Massif.

The Bastille, an ancient series of fortifications at the south end of the Chartreuse mountain range, overlooking the city of Grenoble, was begun in the Middle Ages, but later years saw extensive additions, including a semi-underground defense network, credited as the most extensive example of early 18th-century fortifications in France, and then held an important strategic point on the Alpine frontier with the Kingdom of Savoy. A small garrison was maintained in the fort until 1940.

2084 Grenoble - The Isère's quai on wintertime, and the Bubbles.

The Marius Gontard Bridge is historically the second Isère crossing site in Grenoble. The first stone bridge was built between 1621 and 1671. After much destruction and reconstruction, it was rebuilt in stone in 1839 and called the bridge of the Hospital. It carries since 1924 the same name as the street that continues, that of a General Counsel of Grenoble (1856-1923). With a total length of 73m, it has three spans, the central span, the longest, with a range of 27m.

2214 Grésivaudan Valley - Funiculaire de Saint-Hilaire du Touvet,
villages with Belledone in background, Dent de Crolles, and the Bubbles.

The first cable transport system was installed on the Bastille in 1875. Since 1934, the Bastille has been the destination of the Grenoble-Bastille Cable Car, known to locals as Les Bulles (the bubbles). It is one of the oldest urban cable cars in the world and runs all year round. The route takes the cars across the Isère and over the roofs of the old Saint Laurent quarter before passing over a bastion of the curtain wall of the fort and then over the Rabot and various successive fortifications before arriving at the upper station.

2664 Grenoble

Except for a few dozen houses on the slopes of the Bastille hill, Grenoble is exclusively built on the alluvial plain of the Isère and Drac rivers at an altitude of 214 metres. As a result, the city itself is extremely flat. Mountain sports are an important tourist attraction in summer and winter. Twenty large and small ski resorts surround the city, the nearest being Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse, which is about 15 minutes' drive away. Historically, both Grenoble and the surrounding areas were sites of heavy industry and mining.

2663 UNITED KINGDOM (Anguilla) - Tucked-away Little Bay

Little Bay is one of Anguilla's most special and serene places, but you have to make an effort to reach its beach, surrounded by high cliffs. There are two ways to get to this most remote beach: climb down by rope, or boat over from Crocus Bay. Anyway, it worth the effort, because the scenery is fascinating. The sand on the beach a lighter contrast to the beautifully layered limestone with all shades of corals and grays, and then there is the glowing, brilliant blue of the sea.

July 22, 2016

1940, 2662 ROMANIA (Iaşi) - The Palace of Culture in Iaşi

1940 The Palace of Culture in Iaşi (1)

Posted on 05.10.2015, 22.07.2016
Recognized as an effigy of the city of Iaşi (the capital of the Principality of Moldavia from 1564 to 1859), the Palace of Culture hosts, since 1955, the Moldova National Museum Complex, consisting from four museums, as well as other cultural institutions, after previously served as Administrative Palace and then Palace of Justice. It was built between 1906 and 1925, partly on the old ruins of the mediaeval Royal Court of Moldavia (1434), and partly on top of the foundations of the former neoclassical style palace, dated to the time of Prince Alexandru Moruzi (1806), rebuilt by Prince Mihail Sturdza and dismantled in 1904.

2662 The Palace of Culture in Iaşi (2)

Designed in flamboyant neo-Gothic style by the Romanian architect Ion D. Berindey, the Palace has 298 large rooms, 92 windows in the front part of the building and another 36 inside the building. The wings of the building were withdrawn and decorated with statues of archers that stand sentry, and on the sides were built two entries in the form of vaulted towers. Entry into the palace is through a large dungeon tower, with battlements and alcoves dominated by an aquila with open wings.

2661 UNITED STATES (New York) - The map of Westchester County

Situated in the Hudson Valley, Westchester County was established in 1683, being named after the city of Chester, England. The county seat is the city of White Plains, located at 40km north of Midtown Manhattan. The county shares its southern boundary with New York City and its northern border with Putnam County. It is bordered on the west side by the Hudson River and on the east side by the Long Island Sound and Fairfield County, Connecticut.