September 30, 2012

0347 BELARUS (Minsk) - Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh (UNESCO WHS)

0347 Nesvizh Castle

I mentioned here about Radziwill family, so prominent for centuries for Central and Eastern Europe, that no less than six countries (Belarus, Finland, Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, and Ukraine) nominated the archives of this family to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2008, they being inscribed on the Register in 2009. The Radziwiłł family owned a total of 23 palaces in five countries, three of which are UNESCO WHS: Radziwiłł Palace, Mir Castle Complex, and Nesvizh Castle.

September 28, 2012

0345 TURKEY (Southeastern Anatolia Region) - Nemrut Dağ (UNESCO WHS)

Just as after the death of Alexander the Great the empire created by him was divided, but without being lost Hellenistic influence (quite the contrary), after the defeat of the Seleucid Empire by the Romans in 189 BC, at the Battle of Magnesia, it began to fall apart and new kingdoms were formed on its territory. One of these states was Hellenistic Kingdom of Commagene, which occupied the region between the Taurus Mountains and the Euphrates. Because Mithridates I Callinicus (100-69 BC) married the Syrian Greek Princess Laodice VII Thea, his descendants could claim ties with both Alexander the Great and the Persian kings, the kingdom becoming more Greek then Persian.

September 27, 2012

0343 SEYCHELLES - Cap Ternay


Because today is World Tourism Day, and many of us can't celebrate it properly, i.e. traveling, I thought that it could be welcomed a short visit, even virtual, to a location dreamed by many, but reached only by very few. I wrote here about Seychelles Islands, so now I will focus on Mahé, the largest island in the archipelago, measuring 28km long by 8km wide and hosting almost 90% of the inhabitants, reflecting country's diverse ethnicity and descent from African, Indian, Chinese and European populations.

September 26, 2012

0342 AUSTRALIA (South Australia) - O-Bahn Busway in Adelaide


The fourth maxicard, and the last one, from the series Capital City Transport (after the ones with electric train from Perth, tram from Melbourne, and OSCAR train from Sydney), depicts O-Bahn Busway from Adelaide, a guided busway which is the longest in the world. Introduced in 1986, it is the first bus rapid transit system in Australia, and the world's fastest until 2011, the buses traveling along a dedicated, concrete, guided track,  to avoid traffic congestion. The name come from the Latin omnibus (for all people) and the German bahn (railway).

September 25, 2012

0341 BOLIVIA (La Paz) - Tiwanaku: Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture - Puerta del Sol (UNESCO WHS)


In ca. 750AD, when Tiwanaku (also spelled Tiahuanaco), the capital city of a powerful empire that dominated a large area of the southern Andes and beyond, reached its apogee, Iberian Peninsula had just been conquered by Moors and Spanish people hadn't been formed yet. Not even Spanish, the language in which the conquistador Pedro Cieza de Leon will write, for the first time, about the ruins of this civilization, doesn't exist yet.

Little is known about the city itself, located on the southern shore of the Lake Titicaca, along the present border between Bolivia and Peru, because its inhabitants left no written history, but the material evidences, whether it's about their monumental constructions or about pottery, prove a high level of civilization. It seems that around 400 AD, Tiwanaku went from being a locally dominant force to a predatory state, extending its domination in the ensuing centuries over the portions of what is now Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia, order for around 1000 AD to completely disappear. So when the conquering Inca arrived in this region, to the mid-15th century, the site had been mysteriously abandoned for half a millennium.

September 22, 2012

0339 ROMANIA (Sibiu) - Biertan fortified church - part of Villages with Fortified Churches in Transylvania (UNESCO WHS)

0339 Biertan Fortified Church

Biertan (Birthälm) was one of the first settlements of the Transylvanian Saxons, and received the right to organize a market, placing it in competition with Mediaş and Moşna; it was also the see of the Saxon Lutheran Church from 1572 to 1867. Built in the center of the town, on a hill (Hill of Berth), in Late Gothic style with Renaissance touches, Biertan fortified church was the last one erected in this style in Transylvania, between 1486 and 1524. It was limited by terrain configuration, the choir, 18m long, vaulted with a network of ribs, being built just after the old building ships were replaced by three ships of equal height.

September 20, 2012

0337 INDONESIA (Lesser Sunda) - Komodo National Park (UNESCO WHS)


The Komodo National Park, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, and also selected as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, includes three larger islands (Komodo, Padar and Rincah), and 26 smaller ones. The park was initially established to conserve the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), a large species of lizard found in the islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang and Padar, but later it was expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial.

September 19, 2012

0335 POLAND (Warmia-Masuria) - Land of a thousand lakes


In nowadays, as Magda say, "Mazury is a very well known area in Poland. People come here to sail, rent house and live by the lake or fishing." That's good, because it means that Masuria, named in Polish also Kraina Tysiąca Jezior, and in German Land der Tausend Seen (both meaning "land of a thousand lakes"), has finally found its peace, after many hundreds of years of disturbances, fightings, conquests and ethnic cleansings.

September 18, 2012

0335 GERMANY (Bavaria) - The highest mountain in Germany


The Zugspitze, with 2,962m high, is the highest peak of the Wetterstein Mountains, as well as the highest mountain in Germany. Because of its location (now to the border between Germany and Austria), it was mentioned by name since 1590, in a description of the border between the County of Werdenfels and Austria. The first recorded ascent to the summit was accomplished by a team of land surveyors in 1820, but certainly was escalated by locals long time before.

September 17, 2012

0334 FRANCE (Grand Est) - Notre-Dame de Reims (UNESCO WHS)

Hardly can find a building deeper and longer related to the French monarchy as Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims (Cathedral of Our Lady of Rheims), which celebrated last year the 800th anniversary. It was erected to a site of an older church, destroyed by a fire in 1211, which was built on its turn on the place of the basilica where Clovis, the first King of the Franks, was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims, in 496 AD. Before that, on the site was some Roman baths. The present Reims Cathedral was completed by the end of the 13th century, with the west front added in the 14th century, but based on 13th century designs. Along with the cathedrals of Chartres and Amiens, Reims is a member of the illustrious triad of "High Gothic" or "Classical" French cathedrals built in the 13th century.

September 16, 2012

0333 CHILE (Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins) - Sewell Mining Town (UNESCO WHS)

Situated in the Andes, on volcano Cerro Negro, at about 2100m high, 80km from Santiago and 60km to the east of Rancagua, in an environment marked by extremes of climate, Sewell is the site of the world’s largest underground mine, with about 1500km of galleries. Built by the Braden Copper company in 1905 to house workers at copper mine El Teniente, is, according to UNESCO, which designated it in 2006 a World Heritage Site, under the name Sewell Mining Town, "an outstanding example of the company towns that were born in many remote parts of the world from the fusion of local labour and resources from an industrialized nation, to mine and process high-value natural resources. The town was built on a terrain too steep for wheeled vehicles around a large central staircase rising from the railway station".

September 14, 2012

0321 EL SALVADOR (San Miguel) – The cathedral and the theater in San Miguel

After Ilobasco and San Salvador, the third city in El Salvador that I visit, virtually of course, is San Miguel, which obtained the title of city in 1586, to 56 years after it being founded by Don Luis de Moscoso, under the name San Miguel de la Frontera (San Miguel of the Frontier). Bustling, hot and flat, it's the country's main trade centre, growing wealthy firstly through the profits of gold, and then on the coffee, cotton and henequén. As travel guide of Yahoo says, "more recently it was a centre of arms trading during the civil war, though today the city's flat streets hum and rattle with more mundane forms of commerce and travellers will easily find the sort of facilities offered in the capital. But despite being the birthplace of several national heroes, the city is surprisingly short on sights and attractions, and the best time to visit is during the November carnival, supposedly the biggest in Central America."

September 12, 2012

0319 AUSTRIA (Vienna) - Saint Stephen's Cathedral and Saint Charles's Church - parts of Historic Centre of Vienna (UNESCO WHS)

0319 Saint Stephen's Cathedral and Saint Charles's Church

Saint Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna (Stephansdom - in image, the one in gothic style) appears also in a multiview postcard received by me last year and posted here. As I said, it is part of the Historic Centre of Vienna, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. Founded in 1137, the partially constructed Romanesque church was solemnly dedicated in 1147 to St. Stephen in the presence of Conrad III of Germany, Bishop Otto of Freising, and other German nobles who were about to embark on the Second Crusade, which otherwise will prove to be a failure.

September 10, 2012

0318 MONACO - A stopover on the French Riviera

"With God's Help", as its national anthem says, but also due to the abilities of the House of Grimaldi, who rule it, with brief interruptions, since 1297, the Principality of Monaco managed not only to survive the vicissitudes of history, but also to remain independent. The skill of the Princes of Monaco is proven by the welfare prevailing now in the country, the second smallest (after the Vatican), but the most densely populated in the world. Monaco boasts also the world's highest gross domestic product at purchasing power parity per capita at $186,175 (approximately 20 times higher than that of Romania, for example), and the world's highest life expectancy at nearly 90 years. According to all these statistics, Monaco seems to be not only a tax haven, but a paradise in every sense of the word.

September 8, 2012

0317 DENMARK (Greenland) - National Museum in Nuuk

"In the summer Eirik went to live in the land which he had discovered, and which he called Greenland, Because, said he, men will desire much the more to go there if the land has a good name." Thus is described in the Saga of Erik the Red the way that received the current name the world's largest island, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. A marketing strategy that has succeeded somewhat to Erik Thorvaldsson (950-1003), known better as Erik the Red, a Icelander from norwegian parents, exiled for three years for murder, who founded the first Norse settlement in Greenland (on the west coast) in 986 AD.

September 6, 2012

0315 ISRAEL - The map of the Holy Land

The Holy Land is the territory where took place the biblical events, as described in Tanakh or Old Testament, some of which being listed (without geographical detailing) also in Quran. For some biblical authors, the territory corresponds to the concept of the Promised Land, and for others refer to all places and events linked by the people of Israel, i.e. the regions that have religious significance for the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions:
- in Judaism - Jerusalem is the place where was the Jewish Temple, and the region is considered the Promised Land, the gift of God to his people. The Jewish holy cities are Jerusalem, Hebron, Tzfat and Tiberias.
- in Christianity - is the place of birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Savior or Messiah). The Christian holy cities are Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth.
- in Islamism - is considered sacred Tuwa, the depression located near Mount Sinai, and the city of Jerusalem.