January 31, 2015

1430 UNITED STATES (Idaho) - Idaho map


Bordered by the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north, Montana to the northeast, Wyoming to the east, Nevada and Utah to the south, and Washington and Oregon to the west, Idaho is a mountainous state with an area larger than that of all of New England. The landscape is rugged (snow-capped mountain ranges, rapids, vast lakes and steep canyons) with some of the largest unspoiled natural areas in the US (the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area is the largest contiguous area of protected wilderness in the continental US). Its highest point is Borah Peak (3,859m), and Shoshone Falls plunges down rugged cliffs from a height greater than that of Niagara Falls.

January 30, 2015

1428 RUSSIA (Republic of Karelia) - Cape Besov Nos petroglyphs


In addition to the Pogost Kizhi, Lake Onega has another well known and very interesting site, placed on Cape Besov Nos (Devil's nose), on the eastern coast of the lake: about 1200 petroglyphs scattered over the 20 km area. The engravings are 1-2 mm deep, depict animals, people, boats and geometrical shapes of circular and crescent shapes, and date back to 4th-2nd millennia BC. The main part of this petroglyphs have been found at the western sector of the site. The bedrock here has many color anomalies, cracks and upheavals which makes the place very attractive. Descriptions from previous centuries tell about the hollow sound coming from the inside of the rock when working around it. One peculiarity of Besov Nos carvings is also the abundance of unique petroglyphs. Also common figures here have unique features which has brought on still more discussion about the meaning.

1427 SRI LANKA - Mihintale, the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka


The peak Mihintale (the plateau of Mihindu), located near the city of Anuradhapura, is the site of several religious monuments and abandoned structures, but also a pilgrimage site, because it is believed by Sri Lankans to be the place of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda (the son of Emperor Ashoka of India) and King Devanampiyatissa, which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in the island. Its various shrines are connected by a total of some 1,840 steps, built in the reign of Bhathika Abhaya (22BC-7AD), that ultimately lead to the summit, steep enough to require deep breaths and a meditative pace. Mihintale was neglected from the beginning of the 11th century and abandoned from the middle of the 13th century as a result of the collapse of the Rajarata civilization. Only in the beginning of the 20th century attention was again paid to this complex and the structures we see today have been restored.

1426 JAPAN (Chūgoku) - The Hirose Family, Hiroshima, 1987


"Families Struth discovered parallels with his street scenes in the classic family portrait, moved here too by the desire to invoke the unfamiliar and the unconscious from behind a clichéd and generic surface. His family portraits are always taken under the same conditions: the initiative must come from the artist (with a very few exceptions, Struth’s portraits are not commissioned); the family in question, in consultation with Struth himself, determine the location for the shoot and its framing in their garden or home; finally, while it is up to the family to decide on how to arrange themselves and what poses to strike, they are always asked to look directly into the camera." it says on the website of Kunsthaus Zürich, an art gallery in the Swiss city of Zürich.

January 29, 2015

1425 UNITED KINGDOM (England) - The Old Light on Lundy Island


Lundy is the largest island in the Bristol Channel, lying 19km off the coast of Devon, approximately one third of the distance across the channel between England and Wales. It is 5 km long from north to south by about 1.2 km wide, and its highest point is at 142m. There are two ways to get to Lundy, in the summer months with a passenger ferry, and in the winter months with the helicopter. As of 2007, there was a resident population of 28 people, including volunteers (it is a Marine Conservation Zone, because of its unique flora and fauna). There are 23 holiday properties and a camp site for visitors. Its history, begun in Neolithic, was extremely interesting and tumultuous. It was along time a refuge for people in trouble with the rules and even with the law, a source of problems and disputes.

1424 NICARAGUA (León) - Church of La Recolección in León


Located along the Río Chiquito, at about 90km northwest of Managua, and at 18km east of the Pacific Ocean coast, León was founded by the Spaniards as León Santiago de los Caballeros, and has long been the political and intellectual center of the nation. It is rich in monuments and historical places and among these is Church of la Recolección, located at the so called Bank Street (Calle de los Bancos); a busy street housing several banks. Covered in a dark and well-worn yellow, its Mexican baroque façade is considered one of the most important in the city. Built in 1786, by Bishop Juan Félix de Villegas thanks to contributions made by parishioners, it has three naves, and the altars are in neoclassical style. Almost a century later, in 1880, another building was constructed next to the church: the Recolección school.

January 25, 2015

1388, 1403, 1421 UNITED STATES (Arkansas) - Arkansas map and flag


Posted on 01.01.2015, 05.01.2015, and 25.01.2015
Located in the Southern region of the United States, between Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi, nicknamed in the past the Land of Opportunity, Arkansas is often stereotyped as a "poor, banjo-picking hillbilly" state, a reputation dating back to early accounts of the territory by frontiersmen in the early 1800s. Its name is of Siouan derivation, denoting the Quapaw Indians. The state's diverse geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountains, which make up the  U.S. Interior Highlands, to the densely forested land in the south known as the  Arkansas Timberlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and the Arkansas Delta. The capital and most populous city is Little Rock, the home city of Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the U.S.

 

Prior the arrival of Europeans, Arkansas was inhabited by indigenous peoples as the Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw. The Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto passed through the region in 1541, but only the Frenchman Henri de Tonti established the first European settlement in the territory, Arkansas Post, in 1681. In the early 18th century the fur trappers used Arkansas Post as a home base and entrepôt, and during the colonial period, it changed hands between  France and Spain following the Seven Years' War. In April 1783, Arkansas saw its only battle of the American Revolutionary War, a brief siege of the post by British Captain James Colbert. Napoleon sold Louisiana to the U.S. in 1803, including all of Arkansas (Louisiana Purchase), and following a controversy over allowing slavery in the territory, the Territory of Arkansas was organized on July 4, 1819.

 

Slavery became a wedge issue, forming a geographic divide that remained for decades. In the 1830s the U.S. government forced the removal of many Native American tribes to Arkansas and Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. The Congress admitted it in the Union in 1836 as the 25th state. When the Gulf states seceded in early 1861, Arkansas voted to remain in the Union, and didn't seceded until Lincoln demanded Arkansas troops be sent to Fort Sumter to quell the rebellion there. Upon returning to the Union, the state would continue to suffer due to its earlier reliance on slavery and the plantation economy, causing the state to fall behind economically. White rural interests continued to dominate the state's politics until the Civil Rights movement in the mid-20th century.

1420 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (Dubai) - Got milk?


Dromedary was first domesticated in central or southern Arabia, thought to be around 4000 years ago, and became popular in the Near East in the 9th or 10th century BCE. The Persian invasion of Egypt in 525 BC introduced domesticated camels to the area, but they became common after the Islamic conquest of North Africa. While the invasion was accomplished largely on horseback, the new links to the Middle East allowed camels to be imported en masse. They were well-suited to long desert journeys and could carry a great deal of cargo. Aristotle was the first to describe it, but the animal was given its binomial name, Camelus dromedarius, by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. Today, almost 13 million domesticated dromedaries exist, found mainly from western India via Pakistan through Iran to north Africa.

January 24, 2015

1419 RUSSIA (Saint Petersburg) - Palaces and Park Ensembles of the Town of Pushkin and its Historical Centre - part of Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments (UNESCO WHS)


Tsarskoye Selo (Tsar's Village) was the town containing a former Russian residence of the imperial family, located 24km south from the center of Saint Petersburg, now part of the town of Pushkin. After the October Revolution, the town was renamed Detskoye Selo (Children's Village), and since 1937 Pushkin, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, who studied in the town's Lyceum from 1811 to 1817.

January 23, 2015

1418 UNITED STATES (Iowa) - A farm after sunset


Even if Iowa is generally not flat, the predominant landform being the rolling hills, much of the state surface is used for agriculture. In nowadays crops cover 60% of the state, grasslands (mostly pasture and hay) cover 30%, and forests cover 7%; urban areas and water cover another 1% each. As a result it is often viewed as a farming state, although in reality agriculture is a small portion of a diversified economy. This is undoubtedly a historical cliché, due to the fact that Iowa was a major agricultural producer after the 1850s and 1860s, when were introduced the railroads.

1417 CZECH REPUBLIC (Zlin) - Gardens and Castle at Kroměříž (UNESCO WHS)


Inhabited by slavs from the 7th century, Kroměříž was founded in 1260 by Bruno von Schauenburg, bishop of Olomouc, six years later being already called a town. Bruno chose it to become his see, he made his castle the centre of his dominion in Moravia, and also established what was to become the famous Archbishop's Palace. The town was badly damaged in the Thirty Years' War, was plundered twice by Swedish troops (1643 and 1645), after this the Black Death came. Bishop Karl II von Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn rebuilt the city and the palace after the war. Now, the town's main landmark is the Baroque Kroměříž Bishop's Palace, where some scenes from Amadeus (1984) and Immortal Beloved (1994) were filmed. The Palace and the Flower Garden in Kroměříž were added by UNESCO to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1998.

1416 UNITED STATES (California) - Panning for Gold


Gold is usually found in two forms: in veins or lodes and in river beds or near them, where the metal is called alluvial gold. Gold is also found with other elements such as copper or iron, but usually with silver. The simplest form of gold mining is panning, which applies to alluvial gold. The miner shovels sand and gravel that have gold in them into a pan which he tilts slightly and works with a rotation motion. The particles of gold, being heaviest, sink to the bottom of the pan while the lighter materials are washed away. It is the oldest (but also the least productive) method of mining gold, the first recorded instances of placer mining being from ancient Rome. This method is still used today, sporadic and with minor results, but its peak period was in the 19th century, during the major gold rushes.

January 22, 2015

1415 MONGOLIA (Bulgan) - Uvgun Khiid on Khugnou Khan Mountain


Located at 280km southwest of Ulaanbaatar, Khugnou Khan Mountain (1967m) was considered by locals since immemorial times a sacred place. The mountain and its surrounding is special because it represents forest, mountain steppe and desert zone in a single area. Rich in wild animals, it keeps also many historical items such as ancient tombs, burial mounds, rock inscriptions, monasteries and ruins of cities. At its base there are the ruins of Erdene Khamba Khiid (Erdene Khamba Monastery), which was o­ne of the most beloved sanctuaries of Zanabazar, the first Mongolian Buddhist saint, and also the first Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism for the Khalkha Mongols in Outer Mongolia. In its thriving years the monastery was hosting over a thousand lamas at a time.

January 21, 2015

1414 GERMANY (Baden-Württemberg) - "Baroque in Bloom" at Ludwigsburg Palace


Located in Ludwigsburg, at about 12km north of Stuttgart city centre, near the river Neckar, Ludwigsburg Palace (Schloss Ludwigsburg) is one of the country's largest Baroque palaces and features an enormous garden in that style. From the 18th century to 1918 it was the principal royal palace of the dukedom that became in 1806 the Kingdom of Württemberg. It wasn't destroyed during WWII, so today, the palace and its surrounding gardens are in a state similar to their appearance around 1800. It contains three museums (Baroque Gallery, Porcelain Museum, and Baroque Fashion Museum), and its theatre (Europe's oldest preserved theatre) and its stage machinery from 1758 are still operational. The continuous garden show "Baroque in Bloom" (Blühendes Barock), that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, opened in 1953.

January 19, 2015

1316, 1413 UNITED NATIONS - Ban Ki-moon, the eighth Secretary-General of the UN


Posted on 25.10.2014, and 19.01.2015
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.


Born on 13 June 1944, Ban Ki-moon was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the UN. He entered diplomatic service the year he graduated from university, accepting his first post in New Delhi, India. In the foreign ministry, he established a reputation for modesty and competence. When Ban became Secretary-General, The Economist listed the major challenges facing him in 2007: "rising nuclear demons in Iran and North Korea, a haemorrhaging wound in Darfur, unending violence in the Middle East, looming environmental disaster, escalating international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the spread of HIV/AIDS. And then the more parochial concerns, such as the largely unfinished business of the most sweeping attempt at reform in the UN's history"

January 18, 2015

1412 UNITED KINGDOM (Pitcairn Islands) - Daily life of the locals


The Pitcairn Islands, the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific, are a group of four islands spread over several hundred miles of ocean, but only one of these, Pitcairn, the second largest, measuring about 3.6km from east to west, is inhabited. All the residents are descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians who accompanied them. This history is still apparent in the surnames of many of the islanders. With only about 56 inhabitants, originating from four main families, Pitcairn is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world. The only settlement is Adamstown, which practically houses the entire population, and currently holds the record for being the smallest capital in the world. Given all this, it can be said that half of the population of the island appears on this postcard.

January 17, 2015

1411 ROMANIA (Botoşani) - Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889)


On 15 January 1850 was being born in the village of Ipoteşti, near of Botoşani (then located in the Principality of Moldavia), Mihail Eminovici, the seventh of eleven children of George and Raluca Eminovici. He spent his childhood in Botoşani and Ipoteşti, then he attended school in Cernăuţi, in Bucovina (then in  Austria-Hungary). The first evidence of Eminescu as a writer is from 1866, when he published the poem La mormântul lui Aron Pumnul (At the Grave of Aron Pumnul) in a booklet issued by the students on the occasion of the death of their teacher. Another poem was published in Iosif Vulcan's literary magazine Familia in Pest, and this began a steady series of published poems. Iosif Vulcan, who disliked the Slavic suffix "-ici" of the poet's last name, chose for him the more Romanian "nom de plume" Mihai Eminescu.

0378, 1410 GERMANY (Lower Saxony) - Fagus Factory in Alfeld (UNESCO WHS)


Posted on 07.11.2012, and 17.01.2015
Only few structures erected in the 20th century managed to be included on UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and among these is Fagus Factory in Alfeld (Germany), considered "a landmark in the development of modern architecture and industrial design". Commissioned by Carl Benscheidt, who wanted a structure to express the company's break from the past, the factory was designed by Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus School, and Adolf Meyer, also a prominent representative of this school, based on a project by Eduard Werner. Constructed between 1911 and 1913, with additions and interiors completed in 1925, the buildings were influenced by AEG’s Turbine factory, designed by Peter Behrens, but also by some industrial buildings in the USA, presented in Werkbund publication.


The building that is commonly referred as the Fagus building is the main building (in image), constructed in 1911 and expanded in 1913, containing mainly offices. The other two big buildings on the site are the production hall (a one-storey building) and the warehouse (a four-storey building with few openings). The ten buildings of the site give a common image, because the architects used some common elements, as the floor-to-ceiling glass windows on steel frames, and the brick structure (all buildings have a base of black bricks and the rest is built of yellow bricks). The design of the building was oriented to the railroad side, because Benscheidt considered important the point of view of the passengers on the trains.

January 16, 2015

1409 GERMANY (Rhineland-Palatinate) - Mainz Cathedral


Located on the west bank of the river Rhine, opposite the confluence of the Main with the Rhine, Mainz was an important military town throughout Roman times, and later an important center of the Carolingian Empire, and a centre for the Christianisation of the German and Slavic peoples. One of the early archbishops of Mainz was Willigis (975-1011), who began construction of the cathedral. Since those times until the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Archbishops of Mainz were archchancellors of the Empire and the most important of the seven Electors of the German emperor. Besides Rome, the diocese of Mainz today is the only diocese in the world with an episcopal see that is called a Holy See (sancta sedes). The Archbishops of Mainz traditionally were primas germaniae, the substitutes of the Pope north of the Alps. Between 11th and 13th centuries not less than six monarchs were crowned in the cathedral.

January 14, 2015

1396, 1408 UNITED KINGDOM (British Antarctic Territory) - Port Lockroy Historic Site


Posted on 03.01.2015, and 14.01.2015
Port Lockroy is a natural harbour on the north-western shore of Wiencke Island in Palmer Archipelago, a group of islands off the northwestern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, the northernmost part of the mainland of Antarctica. It was discovered in 1904 and named after Edouard Lockroy, a French politician who assisted Jean-Baptiste Charcot in obtaining government support for his French Antarctic Expedition. After the harbour was used for whaling between 1911 and 1931, during WWII the British military Operation Tabarin established the Port Lockroy base (Station A) on tiny Goudier Island in the bay. The chief reason of this operation was to establish solid British claims to various uninhabited islands and parts of Antarctica, reinforced by Argentine sympathies toward Germany.


After the war, Port Lockroy base continued to operate as a British research station until 1962 (initially survey, geology, meteorology and botany, mainly ionospheric research from 1950 onwards). The site has been designated a Historic Site or Monument (HSM 61) under the Antarctic Treaty, in 19 May 1995. In 1996 the base was renovated and is now a museum and post office operated by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations for cruise-ship passengers in Antarctica. The Trust collects data for the British Antarctic Survey to observe the effect of tourism on penguins. Half the island is open to tourists, while the other half is reserved for penguins. The main hut was named Bransfield House after the ship initially chartered to transport members of Operation Tabarin from the UK, and itself named after Edward Bransfield, Master, Royal Navy, the first person to chart an area of the Antarctic mainland (1819-1820).