November 30, 2012

0399-0400 CHILE (Metropolitana de Santiago) - Cerro Santa Lucía

On 12 February 1541, the Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia founded, on a island of the Mapocho River, a settlement which he named it Santiago de Nueva Extremadura, as a homage to Saint James and Extremadura and in relation with the first name given to Chile, Nueva Extremadura (Extremadura, in Spain, was Valdivia's birthplace). The founding ceremony was held on Huelén Hill (in Mapudungun Huelén means "pain, melancholy or sadness"). Seven months later, on 11 September, the Picunche attacked Santiago, beginning a three-year-long war. On 13 December, day in which was celebrates Santa Lucia, Valvidia conquered the hill and renamed it after this saint. Even though is not the highest hill in town (it has only 69 meters hight, i.e. an altitude of 629 meters above sea level), the spaniards used it as an observation spot, to detect indigenous attacks.

Here were constructed the first hermitages, of the Virgin of Socorro in 1543, of Santa Lucia  and later San Saturnino. During Reconquests (1814-1817), the last Spanish governor, Don Casimiro Marco Del Pont, taking advantage of its strategic location, with ample dominion on the city and the valley, turned the place in bastion of the realistic defense. At his order, the Brigadier of the Royal Engineers Manuel Olaguer Feliú built two forts, on north and south of Santa Lucía Hill (Cerro Santa Lucía), the Marco Del Pont (later González Castle - Caupolicán Seat) and the Santa Lucia (Hidalgo Fortress), able to put eight or twelve cannons each. On the other side, the hillside terrain was used as a "cemetery for the dissidents", people who didn't follow the then-official Roman Catholic faith, or were considered otherwise unworthy of burial at hallowed grounds.

November 27, 2012

0397 COSTA RICA - Arenal Volcano

I wrote about the rich fauna of Costa Rica here, and about an important chapter of its history here, so now it's time to present one of the volcanoes of the country, namely Arenal Volcano, also known as Pan de Azúcar, Canaste, Volcan Costa Rica, Volcan Río Frío or Guatusos Peak. Located at around 90 km northwest of San José, at the center of Arenal Volcano National Park, this active andesitic stratovolcano measures at least 1,633 metres and is considered a young volcano, its age being estimated to be less than 7,000 years. It is fully surrounded by tropical rainforest, including its flora and fauna, is accompanied by inactive Chato volcano and the relics of another ancient volcanoes, and have two small lakes of emerald colored water at its laps.

November 26, 2012

0396 OMAN - Mirbat, the place where horses are tethered

Since the very beginning there was a pronounced state of confusion related to this postcard. After several hours of searching and reading, I managed to dispel it to some extent, but not completely. First, Nakhal Fort has nothing to do with the image, as Cresalde claims in the text on the back. Second, the photos of Mirbat Fort that I found on the Internet didn't convinced me that it's about the building in the image, especially that the photo appears to have been made before the reconstruction which took place after the Dhofar Rebellion, during which the fort suffered major damage. Third, Mirbat Fort isn't part of UNESCO World Heritage Site The Land of Frankincense, even if the coastal town of Mirbat had connection with the frankincense trade. These are my conclusions, and if anyone can help me to dispel completely the fog, I would be grateful.

November 25, 2012

0395 NEPAL - Cave architecture of Muktinath Valley of Mustang (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

"The tale begins with a demon. Centuries ago, it destroyed the foundations of a Buddhist monastery under construction in central Tibet. Then Guru Rinpoche, who had brought Buddhism to the kingdom, pursued the demon west, deep into Mustang. The two fought among Mustang’s snow peaks, desert canyons and grasslands. Guru Rinpoche prevailed, and he scattered the demon’s body parts across Mustang: its blood formed towering red cliffs, and its intestines tumbled to the wind-scoured earth east of the cliffs. Later, people would build a wall of prayer stones, the longest in Nepal, atop the intestines."

November 24, 2012

0394 BULGARIA - Women in the Rhodopes in traditional clothes

The Rhodope Mountains, located in southern Bulgaria (the most part) and in Greece, is the oldest landmass on the Balkan peninsula and have abundant water reserves, with a dense network of mountain springs and rivers. They were inhabited from the Prehistoric age, but the first known people that lived there were the Thracians, the area being one of the cradles of European civilisation. During the Middle Ages, the Rhodopes were part of the Bulgarian and Byzantine Empires, often changing hands between the two countries, and at the end of the 14th century they were conquered by Ottoman Empire, which had possessed them for five centuries. As a result, the Rhodopes has been a place of ethnic and religious diversity for hundreds of years. Apart from the Eastern Orthodox Bulgarians and Greeks, the mountains are also home to a number of Muslim communities, including the Muslim Bulgarians (Pomaks) and a large concentration of Bulgarian Turks.

November 23, 2012

0393 CHRISTMAS (United States) - Children Reading (A Merry Christmas)

Even though I know that they are pathetic, because it addresses of a kind of sensibility extinct long time ago, this kind of postcards from the early 20th century wake up in me a sort of strange nostalgia, the regret for something that I never had. Sounds strange, but I met this feeling to other people too, even to some much younger than me. I think that is the regret that we lost a certain innocence that reigned the souls of the ordinary people and governed the relations between they until after WWII. The fact that in recent years have begun to circulate an increasing number of reproductions of such postcards is encouraging, and the truth is that those who print them have numerous choices. Only Ellen H. Clapsaddle, who signs also this postcard, left behind over 3,000 postcards.

November 21, 2012

0391 IRELAND (Munster) - The Blarney Castle and the Stone of Eloquence

Located in South-West of Ireland, near Cork, Blarney Castle (in Irish Caisleán na Blarnan), as it looks today, is the third erected on this site, after a wooden structure built in the 10th century, replaced around 1210 by a stone stronghold, demolished in the first half of the 15th century. In 1446, Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster, rebuilt the castle, which was besieged during the Irish Confederate Wars (between the native Irish Catholics and English and Scottish Protestant colonists and their supporters). It was seized in 1646 by Parliamentarian forces, and after the Restoration it was restored to Donough MacCarty, who was made 1st Earl of Clancarty.

November 18, 2012

0389 PORTUGAL (Azores) - The Capelinhos Eruption

0389 The Capelinhos Eruption

The nine islands which composed the Archipelago of the Azores, situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, at about 1,500 km west of Lisbon, are volcanic, because from a geostructural perspective they are located above an active triple junction between three of the world's large tectonic plates (the North American Plate, the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate). The westernmost islands of the archipelago (Corvo and Flores) are located in the North American Plate, while the remaining islands are located within the boundary that divides the Eurasian and African Plates.

0388 ROMANIA (Suceava) - Return to the village

Says Marius (Vasiliu), the one who sent me this postcard (the second - the first is here) and also author of the photography: "I wonder how much time from now on, will be heard, autumn, on the Bukovina's lanes, the wagon with firewood for the winter. For the time being, is a banal fact." You are right, Marius, but nostalgia for the things that no longer exist is a constant for each generation. Things change, inevitable and irreversible. For instance, the wheels of the wagon that you have photographed have tires, as they hadn't 50 years ago, and the man wearing a crochet fez and, if I'm not mistaken, rubber boots. At least to remain unchanged the forest , which filter the light in a so special way.

November 16, 2012

0386 INDONESIA (New Guinea) - Traditional huts in Papua

The traditional houses of each ethnic group are different, with its own characteristics, primarily due to the environment, but also to the lifestyle and to the social structure. Therefore the 300 distinct native ethnic groups who live in the more than 17,500 islands which form Indonesia have a very diverse range of traditional housing, so it wasn't easy to find information about the houses in the picture, especially that the explanation is very vague. "A traditional hut in an Indonesian mountain village". Which mountain on which island?

November 15, 2012

0384-0385 RUSSIA (Novosibirsk Oblast) - The Main Railway Station in Novosibirsk

The third building in Novosibirsk that I want to present you, after Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and Regional Puppet Theatre, is the Trans-Siberian Railway Station, I would say the most important building in town, because the settlement grew around it. Construction of the railway station Ob on the right bank of the Ob River, in the early portion of Middle Trans-Siberian Railway, began in May 1893, and on December 1, 1894 was opened to traffic. Also in 1893 began the work at the bridge over river Ob, which was completed in the spring of 1897, making the new settlement the regional transport hub. Practically it was born as a railway station and it developed due to the bridge. If at the time of the bridge's opening, it hosted a population of 7,800 people, in the pre-revolutionary period the population increased to 80,000, and in 2010 reached 1,473,754 inhabitants.

At the begining, the railway station was a V class one, but in 1897 was built a wooden station III-class lounges, with mail and buffet. In 1906 was attached to it a stone two-storey annexe, and in 1914, another one. Named initialy, as I say, Ob station, in 1909 was renamed Novonikolaevsk, and in 1926 Novosibirsk. In 1929, the Moscow Architectural Society, on behalf of the management of the Omsk Railway, has announced a design competition for the railway station. The first prize was awarded to N. Voloshinov's project, which was concise, in constructivist style. Until the completion, the project has undergone many changes, the unique design of the arch of the central hall being designed by Nikolai Nikitin. The final project of the Central part of the station is a composition of a triumphal arch, framed by Tuscan order pilasters and topped with a large attic. In 1956, the Station Square was renamed in honor of Nikolai.Garin-Mikhailovsky, Russian writer and railroad constructor, involved in the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, but also in the founding of Novosibirsk.

The Trans-Siberian Railway, which connect Moscow with the Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan, is the longest railway in the world. At 9,259 kilometres, spanning a record seven time zones and taking eight days to complete the journey, it is also the third-longest single continuous service in the world, after the Moscow–Pyongyang (10,267 km) and the Kiev-Vladivostok (11,085 km) services, both of which also follow the Trans-Siberian for much of their routes.

The Novosibirsk Main Railway Station is the largest station along the Trans-Siberian Railway, and is also the final destination of the Sibirjak express train, the longest train journey originating in the European Union. This weekly train leaves Berlin each Saturday afternoon and arrives Wednesday at lunch time. A travel from Moscow to Novosibirsk costs about 130/270 EUR (upper/lower berth) to the second class, and lasts slightly less than 2 days.

About the stamps
The first postcard
The first two stamps are the moose and the rabbit in the series about animals, about which I wrote here. The third is part of the series XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi - Tourism on the Black Sea Coast of Russia, issued on September 27, 2011. These are the most multilingual stamps in the history of the Olympic Winter Games, the information being given in 6 different languages (Russian, English, French, German, Spanish and Chinese). The four stamps shows:

• Krasnaya Polyana (15 RUB)
• the marine passenger terminal (20 RUB) - it's on the postcard
• the watchtower on the Bolshoy Akhun (25 RUB)
• the Volkonsky Dolmen (30 RUB)

The second postcard
The first three stamps are the fox and the bear in the same series about animals, about which I wrote here.

The four stamp, designed by Betredinova K, is a commemorative one, issued on January 22, 2009, with the occasion of the 300th anniversary of foundation of Central Navy museum, one of the oldest museums of Russia and one of the largest naval museums of the world, located in St. Petersburg. 

Новосибирск-Главный - Wikipedia
Novosibirsk: Getting There and Around - Way to Russia
Novosibirsk - Wikitravel
Travel to Novosibirsk by Trans-Siberian Railway - Russian communication courses in Russia
“Sochi 2014” Olympic Stamps Will Be Available on Subscription - Soch 2014 official site
The 300th anniversary of foundation of Central Navy museum - Rusmarka

sender: Uliana Zolotaryova (direct swap)
sent from Novosibirsk (Russia), on 11.03.2012
photo: A. Kemodyanov

sender: Martynova Svetlana (direct swap)
sent from Novosibirsk (Russia), on 25.03.2012

November 13, 2012

0382 CAMBODIA - Public transport, Cambodian style

Wikipedia say that "war and continuing fighting severely damaged Cambodia's transportation system - a system that had been inadequately developed in peacetime", and that "only about 50 percent of the roads and highways were covered with asphalt and were in good condition; about 50 percent of the roads were made of crushed stone, gravel, or improved earth; and the remaining approximately 30 percent were unimproved earth or were little more than tracks."

November 10, 2012

0380 BULGARIA (Blagoevgrad) - Pirin National Park (UNESCO WHS)

Named after the highest god of the Slavic pantheon, the god of thunder and lightning (Perun), the Pirin Mountains are a mountain range in southwestern Bulgaria, extended about 40 km northwest-southeast, and about 25 km wide, with an altitude between 1008 and 2914m (the peak Vihren). Most of the range is protected in the Pirin National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, with an extension in 2010, the motives being three: its exceptional beauty, its science value, related to its glacial geomorphology, and the evolution of flora, evidenced by a number of endemic and relict species.

November 3, 2012

0374-0376 ITALY (Sicily) - Aeolian Islands (UNESCO WHS)

0374 Lipari

Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, to about 25-50km north of Sicily, the Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie) or Lipari Islands are a volcanic archipelago, named after the mythical sovereign of the winds, Aeolus. Inhabited since 6,000 years ago, they have been mastered over time, for longer or shorter periods, by Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Saracens, Normans, Spaniards, Otomans, French, and Italians, being not infrequently subjected to looting, depopulation, but also earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

0375 Vulcano

But exactly the last ones brought them the inclusion, in 2000, on the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO, which considers that Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands) "provide an outstanding record of volcanic island-building and destruction, and ongoing volcanic phenomena. Studied since at least the 18th century, the islands have provided the science of vulcanology with examples of two types of eruption (Vulcanian and Strombolian) and thus have featured prominently in the education of geologists for more than 200 years."

0374 Panarea

The archipelago consists of eight islands, of which current form is the result of volcanic activity over a period of 260,000 years:

LIPARI (37.6km2; 11.231 inhabitants) - Is the largest island of the archipelago, created by a succession of four volcanic movements, the most important being the third one, which lasted from 20,000 BC to 13,000 BC. The last recorded eruptions occurred in the 5th century CE, when the airborne pumice covered Roman villages on the island. The predominant volcanic rocks, obsidian and pumice, had a particular importance in the history of the island, the first one in the commerce in Neolithic times, and the second one later, until today.