May 30, 2012

0231 CHILE (Antofagasta) - In the land of the Atacameño

We all learned in school that the Atacama Desert is the driest place on earth. Maybe also the fact that it has an area about as a third of Poland. The average rainfall in the region of Antofagasta is just 1mm per year (for comparison, in Rome is 834 mm per year). It seems that the Atacama may not have had any significant rainfall from 1570 to 1971, and in a region about 100km south of Antofagasta, which averages 3,000m height, the soil is comparable to that of Mars.

0230 IRAQ (Baghdad) - Al-Kadhimiya Mosque in Baghdad

It's about Al-Kādhimiya Mosque, a shrine located in the holy city Kādhimayn (literally The Two who swallow their anger), a suburb of Baghdad, which contains the tombs of the Two Imāms, Imām Mūsā al-Kādhim (745-799) and Imām Muhammad at-Taqī (811-835), but also the famous historical scholars Shaykh Mufīd (948-1022) and Shaykh Nasīr ad-Dīn Tūsi (1201-1274). Is said that this shrine is one of the most beautiful sights in Baghdad, and its history affords a resume of the changing fortunes of the famed city of Arabian Nights. Not rare are the days when the shrine is visited by about 30,000 pilgrims.

May 29, 2012

0229 UNITED KINGDOM (Falkland Islands) - The Christ Church Cathedral in Port Stanley

The capital of the Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean, is Stanley (also known as Port Stanley), actually the only true city in the archipelago, with a population of 2,115. Founded in 1843 and named after Lord Stanley, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies at the time, it was a major repair stop for boats travelling through the Straits of Magellan before the construction of the Panama Canal. Since the Falklands War, Stanley has developed greatly, with the building of many residential housing, being now (in 2012) more than a third bigger than it was in 1982.

May 28, 2012

0228 SPAIN (Catalonia) - 28 inhabitants and a 12 centuries-old church

The most beautiful holiday of my life I spent it in Catalonia, so whenever I hear something about this region my heart leaps glad. This happened when I received this postcard. The church of the image is located in El Pont de Bar - a municipality in the comarca (county) Alt Urgell - which now has only 197 inhabitants. The municipality was formed in 1970 by merging of the towns of Toloríu and Aristot, and includes Ardaix, Els Arenys, Aristot, Els Banys de Sant Vicenç, Bar, Castellnou de Carcolze and Toloríu.

May 27, 2012

0226 GERMANY - As if the time would keep standing

A very appropriate name for this artistic photo by Ingo Quake. As for colors, I like this combination of red and green, both intense. The photo provides too little detail to can indicate if it's made in Germany or elsewhere. The building is certainly old, not because the plaster is eaten by time, but rather because the windows are placed quite low. A little odd is that the plaster is unkempt, but the exterior shutters seem to be recently painted. The curtains suggests 19th century on the one hand, and on the other that the house is probably inhabited by older people.

May 26, 2012

0224 RUSSIA - Mirages

At first glance, this postcard is out of the pattern of my collection. Only at first glance, because its purpose, the purpose of the collection, is to form an image of each country, with its history and its present,  with its people and their forms of manifestation in daily life, in art or whatever. In this context, this wonderful postcard is no longer out of the pattern that I set, because it seems to me a very Russian landscape. Alexey Arzomasov, the russian photograf who realize this picture, was born in 1971 in the little town Tulun, Irkutsk Oblast, and now lives in Bratsk.

May 25, 2012

0222 FRANCE (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) - Une jolie maison a la montagne

I like this house in the mountains, but it makes me to think to the holiday, and this is not good. I can't say too much about this postcard. France has three mountain ranges, the Alps in south-east, the Massif Central in south-central and Pyrenees in south-west, so I can't tell where is this house. Since the postcard was printed in Albertville, a commune in the Savoie department in the Rhône-Alpes region, likely that the house is in the same region. Is interesting that in France was created in 1982 an independent association named Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (The most beautiful villages of France), which aims to promote assets of small and picturesque French villages of quality heritage. As of 2008, 152 villages have been listed in The Most Beautiful Villages of France.

0221 BELGIUM (West Flanders) - City Hall - part of Historic Centre of Brugge (UNESCO WHS)

Located on northwest of Belgium and connected by canal with the North Sea, Bruges was founded in the 9th century, and in the 13th century became a leading member of the Hanseatic League, and one of the commercial and cultural capitals of Europe. From 1384 to 1500 the town enjoyed its Golden Age under the Dukes of Burgundy. Bruges is a city with two squares: the Market square (the largest one, the commercial heart of medieval city), and Burg square (the heart of the administrative Bruges). The Burg square is a showcase of different European architectural styles.

May 24, 2012

0220 SINGAPORE - Hill Street Fire Station

In 19th century, most buildings in Singapore were made of wood, and for cooking and light was used open fire, so house fires were very common. After a major fire destroyed on 7 November 1855 S$13,000 of property around Kling Street (kling is a local reference to Indians), the civic authorities decided to establish a profesional fire brigade. This didn't happen until 1869, and a proper fire service was founded only in 1888, which it soon proved inadequate, because of lack in trained firemen and modern firefighting equipment. The arrival in 1904, from England, of Superintendent Montague William Pett (Singapore’s first professional firefighter), and the building, on Hill Street, between 1905 and 1908, of the Central Fire Station (in the picture), radically changed the situation.

0219 NETHERLANDS (Netherlands / South Holland) - Rijksscholen Gemeenschap

Behold a new postcard for the topic Received from those born on August 8, beautiful and nostalgic, coming from a very friendly lady from the Netherlands. Dankzij veel, Ado. Thus, this "club" has now seven members (from seven different countries). With me, eight.

As Ado says, in the image is a Rijksscholen Gemeenscha (Kingdom Community Schools), a secondary school, which she graduated, in South of Rotterdam. As far as I understand, this is (or was) a network of secondary schools (about which I couldn't learn more) who benefit from such buildings, built after the plans of the same architect. Today the building in the image no longer serves as school, but was turned into a residential complex.

May 23, 2012

0218 SEYCHELLES - Beaches and coco de mer

I don't know what thought Vasco da Gama when discovered them in 1502, but certainly he liked them, because otherwise he wouldn't be named them after himself, Ilhas do Almirante, which means Islands of the Admiral. Anyway, neither he nor the English who visited the islands in 1609 haven't taken them in possession. The first who claimed the islands were the French, in 1756, who named them Seychelles (from the Vicomte des Séchelles, Louis XV's finance minister). The colonization began in 1768, when a party of 22 Frenchmen arrived on the islands, bringing with them a number of slaves.

May 22, 2012

0216 NETHERLANDS (Netherlands / Overijssel) - The locomotive NS 451 from rom Museum Buurt Spoorweg

The little Haaksbergen (24,339 inhabitants), located in the east of the Netherlands, in the province of Overijssel, very close to the German border, has something that only few cities have: a railway museum. Moreover, the Museum Buurt Spoorweg (MBS) maintains a tourist railway link with steam locomotives and other historical rail material between Haaksbergen and Boekelo. Visitors may experience the way of travelling by district trains in the past. The railway line was constructed almost 125 years ago, the station in Haaksbergen was built in 1884, and the historical steam locomotives tell the story of travelling in the early decades of the previous century.

May 21, 2012

0215 EGYPT - The map of the Two Lands

With an area of about 1,010,000km2 and a population of 81 million people, Egypt is today a major power in Africa and the Mediterranean Basin, as always was. Its map, as old and interesting as Egypt itself, has probably had more changes than that of any other existing country, because Egypt has existed as country longer than any other.

0214 THAILAND - Tuk tuk (putt-putt, brum-brum and so on)

I know this type of means of transport from two sources: of Indian movies and from Romania during 1960-1970 (when they were used by confectionery and by company - yes, it was only one - which deliver food at home). I note with surprise that this three-wheeled cabin cycle, in fact a motorized version of the traditional pulled rickshaw or cycle rickshaw, was or is used on almost every continents (including Europe), except Australia. Those who invented it were Italians, namely company Piaggio, which made in 1948 Piaggio Ape (Italian for bee), based on the Vespa (Italian for wasp) scooter. Clever play on words, that perfectly reflects the change of purpose, going on the same line.

May 20, 2012

0086, 0213 CHINA (Beijing) - Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing (UNESCO WHS)

Posted on 30.12.2011
On how large and populous is China, on so tumultuous and tangled is its history, which almost coincides in duration with human history, starting 780,000 years ago with Peking Man, whose fossils were discovered near of Beijing, its current capital and one of the Seven Ancient Capitals of China. The oldest surviving relics in Beijing date to the Liao Dynasty, which set up a secondary capital on modern Beijing's location in 938, calling it Nanjing (southern capital). In 1125 Emperor Hailingwang of the Jin Dynasty conquered Liao, and moved its capital to Liao's Nanjing in 1153, calling it Zhongdu (central capital). Mongol forces burned Zhongdu to the ground in 1215. 

Kublai Khan began to rebuild the city in 1264, and in 1272 he made it his capital, the city retaining this status throughout the Yuan Dynasty under the name Dadu (great capital - Cambuluc in Marco Polo's accounts), until 1368, when the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty razed the Yuan palaces to the ground and changed the name of the city in Beiping (northern peace). In 1403 the Yongle Emperor renamed the city Beijing (northern capital - Peking in English), and designated it the co-capital, alongside the Nanjing, for that onwards from 1421 to become the "official" capital of the Ming Dynasty, also known as Jingshi. When Dorgon established the Qing Dynasty as the direct successor of the Ming, in 1644, Beijing remained China's capital.

I stop here with history, because one of the Qing Dynasty emperors, namely Qianlong, was the one who commissioned work for what was to become the Summer Palace, the most celebrated imperial garden in China, dominated by Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. The Summer Palace started out life as the Garden of Clear Ripples in 1750, and it received the current name, Yihe Yuan, in 1888. Artisans reproduced there the garden architecture styles of various palaces in China, and Kunming Lake was created by extending an existing body of water to imitate the West Lake in Hangzhou. The palace complex suffered two major attacks, during the Anglo-French invasion of 1860 (in the Second Opium War), and during the Boxer Rebellion, in 1900. The garden survived and was rebuilt in 1886 and 1902.

The Long Corridor (Cháng Láng - in the first postcar) was erected in 1750 and it’s famous for its length (728 m) in conjunction with its rich painted decoration (more than 14,000 paintings). A wonderful place to spend an hour a day, every time admiring another painting. It takes many years, and probably none of the emperors hasn't seen it all. Maybe only Empress Dowager Cixi to be done it in those 47 years (1861-1908) in which led de facto China, especially that she loved so much the palace that diverted 30 million taels of silver, designated for the Chinese navy, into the reconstruction and enlargement of it.
The corridor, which leads from the east westwards along the northern shore of Kunming Lake, from the Gate for Greeting the Moon (Yao Yue Men) to the foot of the Longevity Hill, was constructed by Qianlong Emperor so that his mother could enjoy a walk through the garden protected from the elements. Along its course, there are four octagonal pavilions with double eaves, two on each side of the Cloud-Dispelling Gate (Pai Yun Men), that marks the center. They symbolize the four seasons and are named (from east to west): Liu Jia (retaining the goodness), Ji Lan (living with the ripples), Qiu Shui (autumn water), and Qing Yao (clear and far). The 14,000 paintings depict episodes from Chinese classical literature, folk tales, historical and legendary figures, and famous Chinese buildings and landscapes along with flowers, birds, fish, and insects.

As a part of the Summer Palace, the Long Corridor was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in December, 1998, under the name Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing. Also has been recorded in 1992 in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest of its kind in the world.

Added on 20.05.2012

Near the western end of the Long Corridor is the Marble Boat (in the second postcard), also known as the Boat of Purity and Ease (Qing Yan Fǎng), a pavilion on the southernmost edge of a peninsula, on the northwestern shore of Kunming Lake. The marble base was built in 1755, during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor, and originally had a Chinese style timber suprastructure. This was destroyed in 1860, during the Second Opium War, and rebuilt in 1893, on order of the Empress Dowager Cixi, in the style of a western style Mississippi paddle-steamer with stained glass windows.

May 19, 2012

0212 SOUTH AFRICA (KwaZulu-Natal) - Two Zulu children

In 1879, at Isandlwana (now in KwaZulu-Natal province, at 169 km north by northwest of Durban), the Zulu warriors led by Ntshingwayo Khoza effectively annihilated the British Army, even managing to stop, for a short time, the British invasion of Zululand. Was the worst defeat of British Army against a technologically inferior indigenous force from its history. The assegai iron spears and cow-hide shields defeated the breech-loading rifle, the artillery, and the rocket battery. More about this battle when I will receive a postcard with Zulu warriors. Now I have only a picture of two descendants of these warriors.

May 16, 2012

0209 PHILIPPINES (Cordillera Administrative Region) - Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (UNESCO WHS)

"For 2,000 years, the high rice fields of the Ifugao have followed the contours of the mountains. The fruit of knowledge handed down from one generation to the next, and the expression of sacred traditions and a delicate social balance, they have helped to create a landscape of great beauty that expresses the harmony between humankind and the environment", wrote UNESCO on its official website with reference to the site Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, inscribed among World Heritage Sites in 1995.

May 15, 2012

0208 UNITED KINGDOM (England) - The map of Leicestershire

I received this postcard from a Romanian girl / woman named Ana, who I don't know who is. How do I know that is Romanian, since the text is in English? From the way it's written the address, with Dest. (shortening of destinatar - which means recipient) and loc. (localitate - locality), plus the diacritics. There is no doubt: she is Romanian. Mulţumesc Ana, oricine-ai fi.

May 14, 2012

0207 URUGUAY - A living sculpture for a survivor

A gorgeous postcard, from a country less accessible, with a text carefully constructed, a special stamp and a clear postmark. Could exist for a collector a better beginning of the week? Of course not. And for this I must thank Fernando, one of the best swappers that I have met so far.

So: Uruguay, Punta del Este, Casa Pueblo. About the history of Uruguay (substantially different from that of the other countries in the region, be it about much more extensive Brazil and Argentina or about Paraguay) I will write when I receive a postcard with Colonia del Sacramento. Now I will mention only that Uruguay is home for 3.3 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area, that an estimated 88% of the population are of European ancestry, and that In 2009 Uruguay became the first nation of the world which provided to every school child a free laptop and internet.

0206 GERMANY (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) - Gellen Lighthouse on Hiddensee Island

Hiddensee is a island in the Baltic Sea, the largest in the Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park, located west of Rügen on the German coast. A car-free island. Quite natural, since it has 16.8km long and about 250m wide. I know mansions, even in Romania, with more land around them. But it is very beautiful, so that it was a popular holiday destination for East German tourists during GDR times and even today continues to attract tourists. Perhaps that is why (because it's beautiful, not because attract tourists) was chosen as the eternal resting place by Gerhart Hauptmann (Nobel Prize for Literature in 1912) and Walter Felsenstein (Austrian theater and opera director).

May 13, 2012

0204 SOUTH KOREA (Seoul) - Taepyeongno by night

The alternate history is a genre of fiction consisting of stories that are set in worlds in which history has diverged from the actual history. An classic exemple is The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, in which the Axis Powers (Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy) have won WWII and have divided the world between them. Whose it seems difficult such literary-historical speculations, only have to look to the Korean Peninsula, where exist in reality an alternative history, because that are something else North Korea and South Korea than two variants of the same country under different regimes. And this postcard from Seoul seems to me representative for economic success and prosperity of South Korea.

May 12, 2012

0203 TUNISIA (Tunis) - Sidi Bou Said, the town in blue and white

Sidi Bou Said, located about 20km from the capital Tunis, it’s a special town. With a population which slightly exceeding 5000 inhabitants, it got its name for Abou Said ibn Khalef ibn Yahia Ettamini el Beji, a Sufi saint who lived there in 13th century. The town is a tourist attraction, but also has the reputation of a town of artists, being visited by Paul Klee, Gustave-Henri Jossot, August Macke, Saro Lo Turco, Louis Moillet, and more members of Ecole de Tunis.

0202 TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO (Tobago) – Tobago from tobacco or vice versa

I talked here about Trinidad and Tobago flag and about the largest island of this union, respectively Trinidad. Behold that I have now received a postcard also showing the flag, but also the map of the second island in size and importance of this archipelagic state from the southern Caribbean, Tobago, much smaller (approximately 42km long and 10km wide) and bearing a name derived, it seems, from the word tobacco. Or vice versa. Located in the northeast of Trinidad and southeast of Grenada, Tobago lies outside the hurricane belt. But not all the hurricanes respect the rule established by meteorologists, so that the consequences of Hurricane Flora on September 30, 1963, were so drastic, that they changed the island's economy.

The first European visitor was Cristopher Columbus on his third voyage (1498), but the first settlers were Courlanders in 1654. It changed hands 33 times between Courland, Spain, England, France, Sweden, and the Dutch Republic until in 1814 it became part of the British Empire. In 1889 Tobago was united with Trinidad into a British crown colony. In 1962 they became an independent Commonwealth nation of Trinidad and Tobago, in 1976 a republic. The capital is Scarborough, with a population around 17,000, almost one-third of the population of the island, composed mainly of African descent, although with a growing proportion of Trinidadians of East Indian descent and Europeans.

The stamp is the same as the one from the first postcard, but still I can't say anything about it.

sender: Nalini Mohammed (direct swap)
sent from San Fernando (Trinidad and Tobago), on 26.03.2012