February 22, 2012

0129 CHILE (Valparaiso) - Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaíso (UNESCO WHS)

The second postcard sent by Hernán (gracias, amigo) shows Valparaiso, which played an important geopolitical role in the second half of the 19th century, when the city served as a major stopover for ships which traveled between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan.  Cosmopolitan, exotic and colorful, the city was then called The Jewel of the Pacific (but also Pancho, diminutive form of Francisco), but the opening of Panama Canal in 1914 ended its golden age, even though it remained a vibrant center of Chilean culture.

In 2003 a part of town has been declared by UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaíso, after that a few years before, in 1996, the World Monuments Fund declared city’s unusual system of funicular elevators (highly-inclined cable cars) one of the world’s 100 most endangered historical treasures.

As in many other cities in the New World, the immigrants have played a vital role in Valparaiso's development, its architecture reflecting, beside the Spanish Traditions, various European styles. The first private catholic school in Chile was founded by French immigrants in Valparaíso, and the first private, secular schools, was founded by immigrants from Scotland and Germany. Immigrants also formed the first volunteer fire-fighting units (still a volunteer activity in Chile), and the English immigrants introduce the Football.

In the picture is the Bellavista Hill, one of the dozens of steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean (as says Hernán, "each hill is like the Neighborhood"), on which spans a labyrinth of streets and cobblestone alleyways, embodying a rich architectural and cultural legacy. Due to its outstanding architecture, it was named Museo a Cielo Abierto (open sky museum).

In the distance it sees San Francisco Church, located in Barón Hill. Built by the Franciscan community in 1846, it served as lighthouse until the early 20th century. It suffered a fire on 1983, and another one in 2010, right in the middle of a reconstruction process after the earthquake which had occurred 7 months ago. Because of Valparaíso's proximity to the Peru-Chile Trench, the city is vulnerable to earthquakes, the most important taking place in 1730, 1906, 1985, 2008, and 2010 (8.8 on the moment magnitude scale).

In Valparaiso they were born Salvador Allende and Augusto Pinochet, about who I will speak at the proper time.

In terms of the stamps, at first I thought that on the back of the postcard are bonded 3. In fact there are only two, because the first on the left is the vignette of the second, which is part of a series of 4, Universidad de Talca, issued on October 10, 2011. The stamp shows the botanical garden of the University of Talca (formed in 1981 by the fusion of Universidad de Chile and Universidad Técnica del Estado), and the vignette shows the Abbot Juan Ignacio Molina (1740-1829), a Chilean Jesuit priest, naturalist, historian, botanist, ornithologist and geographer. The four stamps in the series are:
• the facade of the Faculty of Juridical and Social Sciences 
the Kinetic Friso Matilde Perez
the Botanical Gardens - it's on the postcard, but also here
the facade of the Faculty of Engineering Curicó Campus - it's on other postcard
All these four stamps form together, in the center, the sculpture Thunder.

About the second stamp, showing a mailbox, I wrote here.

Sender: Hernán (direct swap)
Sent from Santiago (Chile), on 31.12.2011

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