October 25, 2014

1316 UNITED NATIONS - Ban Ki-moon, the eighth Secretary-General of the UN

The Secretary-General of the United Nations (UNSG) is the head of the UN Secretariat, and acts as the de facto spokesperson and leader of the organization. He is appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council, and serves for five-year terms that can be renewed indefinitely, although none so far has held office for more than two terms. The selection is subject to the veto of any of the five permanent Members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). The current UNSG is Ban Ki-moon, elected in 2006, and re-elected in 2010. He was named the world's 32nd most powerful person by Forbes Magazine's List of The World's Most Powerful People in 2013, the highest among Koreans.

1315 PAKISTAN (Punjab) - Taxila (UNESCO WHS)

Now, Taxila (in Sanskrit Takshashila, literally meaning City of Cut Stone or Rock of Taksha) is a small town situated about 32km north-west of  Islamabad, but the ancient settlement was a noted centre of learning at least several centuries BC, and continued to attract students from around the old world until its destruction in the 5th century by the Huns. Generally, a student entered Takshashila at the age of sixteen. The Vedas, the ancient and the most revered Hindu scriptures, and the Eighteen Silpas or Arts, which included skills such as archery, hunting, and elephant lore, were taught, in addition to its law school, medical school, and school of military science. Situated at the pivotal junction of India, western Asia and Central Asia, Taxila also illustrates the different stages in the development of a city on the Indus that was alternately influenced by Persia, Greece and Central Asia. It is a vast serial site, that includes a Mesolithic cave and the archaeological remains of four early settlement sites, Buddhist monasteries, and a Muslim mosque and madrassa.

October 24, 2014

1314 UNITED STATES (Vermont) - The Arlington Green Covered Bridge

Arlington is a little town in Vermont, with only 2,317 inhabitants, known only by history lovers, because was the capital of the Vermont Republic (1777-1791). Near the town, off Vermont Route 313, is the Arlington Green Covered Bridge, which crosses Batten Kill. The picturesque red bridge was built in 1852 using the Towne Truss design. Looking through the bridge one catches a glimpse of the Inn on Covered Bridge Green, now a bed & breakfast and formerly the home of painter Norman Rockwell between 1943 and 1954. The Inn was built in 1792. The view from the south (on the postcard) shows the steel cables which hold the bridge in place during storms. The cables are typical of all these bridges. On August 28, 2011, the bridge was damaged by flooding caused by Hurricane Irene, but it was fixed in the following months and has since reopened.

1313 PORTUGAL (Coimbra) - University of Coimbra - Alta and Sofia (UNESCO WHS)

In Coimbra are many archaeological structures which date back to the Roman era (the well-preserved aqueduct and cryptoporticus for example), and also buildings from the period when it was the capital of Portugal (1131-1255), but this city is best known for its University. During the Late Middle Ages, with the decline of Coimbra as the political centre of the Kingdom of Portugal, it began to evolve into a major cultural centre, helped by the university finally established there in 1537. The university, one of the oldest in Europe,  influences educational institutions of the former Portuguese empire over seven centuries, receiving and disseminating knowledge in the fields of arts, sciences, law, architecture, town planning and landscape design. It demonstrates also a specific urban typology, which illustrates the far-ranging integration of a city and its university.

October 23, 2014

1312 MONGOLIA - Women in traditional clothes


Mongolian dress has changed little since the days of the empire, because it is supremely well-adapted to the conditions of life on the steppe. The deel, or kaftan, is the Mongolian traditional garment worn both on workdays as well on special days. Each ethnic group has its own deel design distinguished by cut, color, and trimming. Before the revolution, all social strata had their own manner of dressing. The deel is a long, loose gown cut in one piece with the sleeves; it has a high collar and widely overlaps at the front. It is girdled with a sash, which isn't simply adornment, but serves as a soft corset facilitating long riders on horse back. The deels always close on the wearer's right and traditionally have five fastenings. Modern deels often have decoratively cut overflaps, small round necklines, and sometimes contain a Mandarin collar, which starts at the neckline and rise vertically few centimeters. The deel has wide, cup-shaped sleeves nicknamed "hooves", which protect the hands from the cold and from injures while doing hard work. There are basically three types of deels, each worn during a particular season. The Dan Deel is made of light, thinks bright materials and is worn by women during the late spring and summer. The Terleg is a slightly more padded version worn by both men and women. The winter deel is serious, padded tunic lined with sheep skin, or layers of row cotton.

October 21, 2014

1311 ITALY (Sicily) - The castles of Erice


On Sicily’s westernmost coast, dominating the city of Trapani below it, the Egadi Islands to the southwest, and Monte Cofano to the east, stands the city of Erice, perched high atop the mountain of the same name, Greek as origin (Eryx), even if the settlement was founded by Phoenicians. Conquered by Aghlebids in 831 and renamed Cebel Hamid, in 1167 was occupied by Normans, who renamed it Monte San Giuliano, name that survived until 1934. Erice’s exceptional location on a plateau rising 751m above sea level contributes to a remarkable preservation of its medieval atmosphere, from the streets paved in marble to the stone walls enclosing flower-laden internal courtyards where family life unfolds undisturbed. The scene is further enchanted by the drifting fog that envelops the city and surrounding pine forest.

October 20, 2014

1310 ARUBA - The Casibari Boulders


Near Ayo village, about 3.2 km from the natural bridge towards Casibari (now defunct) are located the monolithic rock boulders named Ayo Rock Formations. The Arawak people, the earliest settlers on the island of Aruba, used to visit this formations and carved paintings in rocks called petroglyphs while performing religious rites. One of the unusual and notable rock formations is the Casibari Boulders, which are tonalite rocks seen to the north of Hooiberg. They are reddish brown in colour and rise above the desert landscape giving a panoramic view of the island. They are located amidst cacti, and lizards are commonly encountered here. The boulders have unusual shapes resembling birds and dragons. There is no plausible explanation yet for the presence of these unusual wind-carved boulder formations on a flat sandy island.

1309 SUDAN - Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe (UNESCO WHS)

The Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe, a semi-desert landscape between the Nile and Atbarah rivers (the modern region of Butana), was the heartland of the Kingdom of Kush, a major power from the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. The property consists of the royal city of the Kushite kings at Meroe (on the east bank of the Nile, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum), the nearby religious site of Naqa and Musawwarat es-Sufra. It was the seat of the rulers who occupied Egypt for close to a century (the Twenty-fifth Dynasty) and features, among other vestiges, pyramids, temples and domestic buildings as well as major installations connected to water management. Their vast empire extended from the Mediterranean to the heart of Africa, and the property testifies to the exchange between the art, architectures, religions and languages of both regions.

1308 UNITED STATES (Massachusetts) - Russel House Tavern in Cambridge

Located at the first convenient Charles River crossing west of Boston, Newe Towne (later named Cambridge) was one of a number of towns (including Boston, Dorchester, Watertown, and Weymouth), founded in 1630s by the 700 original Puritan colonists of the Massachusetts Bay Colony under governor John Winthrop. The original village site is in the heart of today's Harvard Square, a large triangular area at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Brattle Street, and John F. Kennedy Street. Adjacent to Harvard Yard, the historic heart of Harvard University, the Square (as it is sometimes called locally) functions as a commercial center for Harvard students, as well as residents of western Cambridge and the inner western and northern suburbs of Boston.

October 19, 2014

1307 RUSSIA (Murmansk Oblast) - Kirovsk, in the Arctic Circle

Founded in 1929 as Khibinogorsk, the name that it wore until 1934, Kirovsk is a town located at the spurs of the Khibiny Mountains on the shores of the Lake Bolshoy Vudyavr, 175km south of Murmansk, on the Arctic Circle. Its occurrence was due to the expedition led by Alexander Fersman in 1920s, which discovered large deposits of apatite and nepheline. By the end of 1930, its population grew to ten thousand people, and a mining and chemical plant was under construction. It was renamed after Sergei Kirov, a prominent early Bolshevik leader killed in 1934 by a gunman at his offices in the Smolny Institute. Now, the population of Kirovsk it's about 29,000.