February 24, 2017

2952, 2960 ROMANIA (Braşov) - Moieciu

2952 Moieciu - Cheile Grădiştei

Posted on 15.02.2017, 24.02.2017
Situated between Bucegi and Piatra Craiului mountains, in Rucăr-Bran Pass, at an altitude between 800 and 1200 m, Moieciu is one of the three commune that make up the Bran area. The Rucăr-Bran Pass is one of the oldest communication routes on Romanian territory, known even before the occupation of Dacia by the Romans in 106 AD. In the Middle Ages was the main link road between Wallachia and Transylvania, through the Carpathian Mountains.

2960 Moieciu

After the occupation of Transylvania by Hungarian royalty, was build the Bran Castle, as an advanced defense point. The six villages that today make up the Moieciu commune were part of the Bran domain, being under the jurisdiction of the Bran castellan. Until not long ago, the mountain agriculture was the main occupation of the inhabitants, the main focus being on livestock. In recent years, the agritourism experienced an unprecedented development, Moieciu becoming one of the most popular tourist areas in Romania.

February 22, 2017

0476, 2926, 2959 BELARUS (Vitebsk) - Saviour Transfiguration Church and Saint Sophia Cathedral in the town of Polatsk (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

0476 Polatsk - Saint Sophia Cathedral (1)

Posted on 18.01.2013, 14.01.2017, 22.01.2017
Located on the Dvina river, Polatsk is one of the most ancient cities of the Eastern Slavs. The Primary Chronicle listed Polotsk in 862, together with Murom and Beloozero. The town was named in accordance with the Palata river name, on the right bank of which the first settlements appeared. From 10th to 13th centuries Polatsk was the central town of the Polatsk Principality. Favorable geographical location on trade ways ("From Varengians to Greeks") promoted the rapid economical and cultural development. At that time outstanding examples of architecture of the period Saint.Sofia Cathedral and Savior Transfiguration Church were constructed.

2926 Polatsk - Saint Sophia Cathedral (2)

In the winter of 1066-1067, very angry that was excluded from the succession of Kievan Rus', because his father (even if was the nephew of Vladimir The Great, Grand Prince of Kiev) hadn't been prince in Kiev, Vseslav the Sorcerer, Prince of Polotsk, went through fire and sword the northern areas of this principality. In this campaign he pillaged and burnt Novgorod the Great, removing the bell and other religious objects from the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom and bringing them to decorate his own cathedral of the same name in Polotsk, completed by Byzantine architects even in that year. Actually here will be buried, 34 years later, and after him another 15 Polotsk princes.

2959 Polatsk - Savior Transfiguration Church
 in 1870's

Even though it was renovated many times over the centuries, and the current appearance is an example of the Vilnius Baroque style, the cathedral still retains some elements from the original construction, so it's considered the oldest church in Belarus. Named after Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) Cathedral in Constantinople, this church originally had seven domes, later reduced to five after it was rebuilt following the fire of 1447. One of the characteristic features of the cathedral is facetted apses, typically found on wooden temples. The names of the builders have been preserved until today, inscribed in a stone at the base of the church: David, Toma, Mikula, Kopes, Petr, and Vorish.

February 21, 2017

2935, 2958 ITALY (Sicily) - Teatro Massimo in Palermo

2958 Palermo - Teatro Massimo

Posted on 24.01.2017, 21.02.2017
The Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele is an opera house and opera company located on the Piazza Verdi in Palermo, dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II. Built between 1874 and 1897, it is the biggest in Italy, and one of the largest of Europe (the third after the Opéra National de Paris and the K. K. Hof-Opernhaus in Vienna), renowned for its perfect acoustics. Realized in the late-Renaissance style, the auditorium was planned for 3,000 people, but, in its current format, it seats 1,350, with 7 tiers of boxes rising up around an inclined stage, and shaped in the typical horseshoe style.

2935 Palermo - Interior view of the Teatro Massimo

For many years there had been talk of building a big new theatre in Palermo, worthy of the second biggest city in southern Italy (after Naples) and designed to promote the image of the city following the unification of Italy in 1861. The opera house was designed and overseen by the Italian architect Giovan Battista Filippo Basile, well known in Sicily. Following his death in 1891, construction was then overseen by his son, Architect Ernesto Basile. The Rutelli and Machì Company, represented by Giovanni Rutelli and Alberto Machì, was contracted for the main construction.

2957 FRANCE (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) - Valence, Drôme

2957 Valence, Drôme - Republic Square with
Hôtel de la Croix D'or (Hotel Golden Cross)
probably in 1960's

Situated on the left bank of the Rhône, about 100km south of Lyon, along the railway line that runs from Paris to Marseille, Valence is often referred to as "the door to the South of France", the local saying à Valence le Midi commence (at Valence the Midi begins) pays tribute to the city's southern culture. Inscribed on the list of flowery towns and villages of France, it is one of the seventeen municipalities of the Rhône-Alpes region to be labeled "four flowers" by the Concours des villes et villages fleuris, i.e. the maximum level.

February 19, 2017

2956 ROMANIA (Braşov) - Bran

Bran (Törzburg in German) is a commune composed of five villages (Bran, Poarta, Predeluţ, Şimon and Sohodol), located between Bucegi and Piatra Craiului mountains, in Rucăr-Bran Pass. The medieval Bran Castle, which was once besieged by Vlad the Impaler, is a popular tourist destination, partly because it resembles the home of Dracula in Bram Stoker's famous novel.The legends mention an old man named Bran, master over these lands, who bequeathed them to his 14 sons. In this way were founded the 14 villages which make up the Bran area, grouped today in three communes: Bran, Moeciu and Fundata.

2955 GERMANY (Hamburg) - Reeperbahn in Hamburg

The Reeperbahn (which means ropewalk) is a street and entertainment district in Hamburg's St. Pauli district, one of the two centres of Hamburg's nightlife (with Schanze) and also the city's major red-light district. In German it is also called die sündigste Meile (the most sinful mile) and nicknamed Kiez. The street is lined with restaurants, night clubs, discotheques and bars, but also strip clubs, sex shops, brothels, a sex museum and similar businesses, including the Operettenhaus. Because of the problems with prostitution and the high crime rate, in 2007 the Senate of Hamburg enacted a ban on weapons in the Reeperbahn area.

February 18, 2017

2954 ALGERIA - National Carpet Festival in Ghardaïa

Located in the Sahara Desert, Ghardaïa is part of a pentapolis, a hilltop city amongst four others, built almost a thousand years ago in the M'zab Valley (Wadi Mzab) by the Mozabites (At Mzab), a branch of a large Berber tribe, the Iznaten, which lived in large areas of middle southern Algeria. After the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb, the Mozabites became Muslims of the Mu'tazili school. After the fall of the Rostemid state, the Rostemid royal family with some of their citizens chose the M'zab Valley as their refuge. Besides, the valley was inscribed under the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1982.

February 17, 2017

2953 FRANCE (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) - Tamié Abbey

Situated in the Savoie region, on the eastern slopes of the Bauges mountain massif, at an altitude of 900 meters, the Cistercian abbey of Notre-Dame de Tamié is witness to a long history. Tamié Abbey was founded in 1132 by Saint Peter of Tarentaise, a monk from Bonnevaux Abbey, who was later to become the archbishop of Moûtiers. After a successful start in the golden age of the 12th Century, the abbey was adversely affected by prosperity, which led the monks away from the austere lifestyle on which the order was based.

February 14, 2017

0686, 2951 MYANMAR (Mandalay Region) - Bagan Archaeological Area and Monuments (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

0686 Bagan Archaeological Area and Monuments

Posted on 19.06.2013, 14.02.2017
Capital of the Kingdom of Pagan (the first kingdom which unified the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar) from the 9th to 13th centuries, Bagan is considered by many as equal in attraction to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. During the kingdom's height, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed here, of which the remains of over 2500 still survive to the present day. Several of these monuments are still higly venerated by the population, and attract numerous pilgrims and devotees from all over the country, particularly at festival times, but also many tourists.

2951 Ananda Temple in Bagan

The Bagan temples falls into one of two broad categories: the stupa-style solid temples and the gu-style hollow temples. The original Indic design of the stupas (zeidi or zedi in Burmese) was gradually modified first in Pyu city states, and then in Bagan, where they developed a longer, cylindrical form, become the prototypes for later Burmese stupas in terms of symbolism, form and design, building techniques and even materials. In contrast to the stupas, the hollow gu-style temple is a structure used for meditation, devotional worship of the Buddha and other Buddhist rituals.

February 13, 2017

2839, 2950 ROMANIA (Maramureş) - Moroşeni in tradiţional clothes

2839 Moroşeni from Şugatag village
in traditional clothes

Posted on 25.10.2016, 13.02.2017
Maramureş is a geographical, historical and ethno-cultural region situated along the upper Tisza River, and partitioned between Romania and Sub-Carpathian Ukraine after the WWII. With its picturesque countryside of small villages, rolling hills, pastures, and meadows full of wildflowers, Maramureş epitomizes all that the rural lifestyle encompasses. It is a small and unique location in the geographical heartland of Europe that has carefully and distinctively preserved the culture, traditions and lifestyle of a mediaeval (or even older) peasant past.

2950 Little girl from Maramureş

Little has changed in the centuries gone by. Families remain in the same villages as their ancestors. Traditional skills and crafts are passed down from generation to generation. Traditional hand-woven clothing continues to be practical. The church continues to be the soul of the village. Neighbours know one another and continue to lend a helping hand. The mystery of rural traditions unfolds before the visitor as a living museum that is at once within reach yet simultaneously beyond the grasp of the traveller.

February 12, 2017

2949 FRANCE (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) - Yvoire

Since ancient times, the upper valley of the Rhône and Lake Geneva (Lake Leman, in french) have formed a route through the Alps between Italy and France; the lake itself, with its varying winds, facilitates the transport of goods which are carried on lateen-rigged boats. Located at the tip of the Leman peninsula, Yvoire delimits the two main parts of the lake, the "petit lac" and the "grand lac". Its strategic position, didn't escape the notice of Count Amédée V the Great, who under took important fortifications from 1306, during the war between the Dauphiné and Savoy.

2948 GERMANY (North Rhine-Westphalia) - Dortmund

Dortmund is an independent city in North Rhine-Westphalia, located in the middle part of the state, and is considered to be the administrative, commercial and cultural centre of the eastern Ruhr Area. Nearly half the municipal territory consists of waterways, woodland, agriculture and green spaces with spacious parks. This stands in a stark contrast with nearly a hundred years of extensive coal mining and steel milling within the city limits. The near-complete destruction of Dortmund's city centre during World War II (98%) has resulted in a varied architectural landscape.

February 11, 2017

2947 RUSSIA (Moscow) - The Palace of Kuskovo

Kuskovo was the summer country house and estate of the Sheremetev family, one of the wealthiest and most influential noble families of Russia. Built in the mid-18th century, it was originally situated several miles to the east of Moscow but now is part of the East District of the city. It was one of the first great summer country estates of the Russian nobility, and one of the few near Moscow still preserved. Today the estate is the home of the Russian State Museum of Ceramics, and the park is a favourite place of recreation for Muscovites.

2946 GERMANY (Baden-Württemberg) - Heidelberg Castle

A former residence of the Electorate of the Palatinate, and home to one of the most reputable universities in Europe, Heidelberg is also a popular tourist destination due to its romantic cityscape, including Heidelberg Castle, the Philosophers' Walk, and the baroque style Old Town. Even if the Heidelberg Castle has only been partially rebuilt since its demolition in the 17th and 18th centuries, its ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. It is located 80m up the northern part of the Königstuhl hillside, and thereby dominates the view of the old downtown.

1111, 1901, 2063, 2945 ROMANIA - The map and the flag of the country

1111 The map and flag of Romania

Posted on 23.06.2014, 18.09.2015, 22.11.2015, 11.02.2017
Located on the Lower Danube, at the north of the Balkan Peninsula (in which it is often framed, because of the historical and cultural similarities), on the western shore of the Black Sea, between Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Ukraine, and having a border (which wouldn't have to exist) with Moldova, Romania forms a complex geographic unit centred on the Transylvanian Basin, around which the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains form a crescents. Beyond this zone, the plains of the south and east of the country, their potential increased by the Danube River and its tributaries, form a fertile outer crescent extending to the frontiers.

2063 The flag of Romania

Romania comprises a number of geographic regions, corresponding, completely or partially, to the historic regions whose names they share: Wallachia (consisting of Muntenia and Oltenia), Moldavia (only western Moldavia - the Hertza region is today in Ukraine, and eastern Moldavia, or Bessarabia, is divided between Moldova and Ukraine), Bukovina (only southern Bucovina - the north is today in Ukraine), Dobruja (only the north - the south of Dobruja, or Cadrilater, is today in Bulgaria), Transylvania, Banat (shared with Serbia and Hungary), Crişana (shared with Hungary), and Maramureş (only the south - the northern part is currently in Ukraine).

1901 Greetings from Romania (unofficial)

In Romania were discovered the Europe's oldest known remains they may have been among the first modern humans to have entered the continent (42,000-year-old, in the Cave With Bones). The Neolithic-Age Cucuteni area was the western region of the earliest European civilization, known as the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture. The earliest written evidence of people living in the territory of present-day Romania, the Getae, comes from Herodotus (c. 440 BC). Territories located north of the Danube were inhabited by Dacians, considered to have belonged to the Getae tribes, a branch of Thracians.

2945 Coat of arms of all county seats in Romania

After two devastating wars (101-102 and 105-106 AD), the Emperor Trajan annexed the southwestern parts of Dacia to the Roman Empire. During the 3rd century AD, with the invasions of migratory populations, the Roman Empire was forced to pull out of Dacia around 271 AD, the territory being invaded successively by Goths, Huns, Slavs, Gepids, Avars, Bulgars, Pechenegs, and Cumans. In the Middle Ages, Romanians, mostly known as Vlachs, lived in three distinct principalities: Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. By the 11th century, Transylvania had become an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Hungary, and from the 16th century until 1711 was independent.

1019, 1135, 2944 UNITED STATES (New York) - New York map and flag

1019 New York map (1)

Posted on 02.03.2014, 09.07.2014, 10.02.2017
Bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south and by Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont to the east, New York State has a maritime border with Rhode Island, as well as an international border with Canada. It is a center for finance and culture, and also the largest gateway for immigration to the United States. Over 100 million Americans can trace their ancestry to the immigrants who first arrived in America through Castle Clinton and Ellis Island. New York City, with a population of over 8.3 million in 2012, is the most populous city in the U.S.A., making up over 40% of the population of the state.

1135 New York map (2)

Both the state and city were named for the 17th century Duke of York, future King James II of England. Its capital city is Albany, officially chartered as a city in 1686 and located on the west bank of the Hudson River, about 16km south of its confluence with the Mohawk River. New York was inhabited by various tribes of Algonquian and Iroquoian at the time when Dutch settlers moved into the region in the early 17th century. In 1609, the region was first claimed by Henry Hudson for the Dutch, and Fort Nassau was built near the site of the present-day capital of Albany in 1614.

2944 New York flag

The Dutch soon also settled New Amsterdam and parts of the Hudson River Valley, establishing the colony of New Netherland. The English captured the colony during the Second Anglo-Dutch War and governed it as the Province of New York, of which borders were similar to those of the present-day state. About one third of all the battles of the Revolutionary War took place in New York, which became the 11th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. In contrast with New York City's urban atmosphere, the vast majority of the state's geographic area is dominated by farms, forests, rivers, mountains, and lakes.