January 31, 2013

0491 HUNGARY - A hussar and his wife


The first mention of the Hussarones (in latin) was in documents dating from 1432 in Southern Hungary. According to Webster's, the word hussar stems from the Hungarian huszár, which originates from the Serbian and Croatian husar (pirate), from the Medieval Latin cursarius. According to another theory, the word is derived from the Hungarian húsz (twenty), signifying that 'one in twenty' was selected for service. The hussars originated in bands of mostly Serbian warriors crossing into southern Hungary after the Turkish invasion of Serbia at the end of the 14th century. The Governor of Hungary, the Walachian Iancu de Hunedoara, created mounted units inspired by the Ottomans. His son, Matthias Corvinus, later king of Hungary, is unanimously accepted as the creator of these troops, the first Hussar regiments being the light cavalry of the Black Army of Hungary.

January 30, 2013

0490 SERBIA (Belgrade) - Saint Mark's Church in Belgrade


Because of the growth of the city, it became necessary by the beginning of the 20th century to build a bigger church in the Belgrade quarter of Palilula, but the wars didn't allow this until 1930, when Petar and Branko Krstić designed the plans for a new church dedicated to Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark. This was built between 1931 and 1940, but was consecrated and opened for divine service only in 1948. The church was built in the spirit of Serbian medieval buildings, using as a model the endowment of King Milutin, Gračanica Monastery, located near Priština, one of the four churches and monasteries included in 2004 on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name Medieval Monuments in Kosovo. The external walls are in two colors of natural materials in the Serbian-Byzantine building method. It has 62m long and 45m wide, and the height of the main cupola to the base of the cross is 60m.

0489 TURKEY (Marmara Region) - Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge


If I'm not mistaken, in present there are only three bridges linking two continents: Suez Canal Bridge (which cross the Suez Canal at El Qantara, in Egypt, so link Africa and Asia), Bosphorus Bridge and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge (which cross  the Bosphorus strait at Istanbul, in Turkey, so link Europe and Asia). In this postcard is the last one, also known as the Second Bosphorus Bridge, which was, when was completed (in 1988), the 6th longest suspension bridge span in the world.

January 28, 2013

0488 PORTUGAL - The flag of the country


The portuguese flag, adopted on 30 June 1911, is a 2:3 rectangle divided vertically into green at the hoist (2/5 of the flag’s length) and red at the fly (3/5). Centered in this partition is a coat of arms consisting on an armillary sphere charged with the traditional portuguese shield. The use of green represented a radical republican-inspired change that broke the bond with the former religious monarchical flag. Actually, red and green had been established as the colours of the Portuguese Republican Party. The symbolism was added later, green being associated with the hope of the nation, and red with the blood of those who died defending it.

January 27, 2013

0487 SOUTH AFRICA - A condensing steam locomotive, Class 25 4-8-4


Of all the 487 postcards that I posted so far on this blog, this one gave me the most problems of documentation. Ado said that she found it among his father's things, a trains enthusiast who has worked in this area in the 1950's in Rhodesia. On the other hand, the stamp, showing Victoria Falls from the air, was issued by Northern Rhodesia, and on the postcard writes Zuid Afrikaanse Spoorwegen (South African Railways). All these may be a starting point.

January 26, 2013

0486 MOROCCO - The map and the flag of the country


Commonly named by the arabs al-Mamlakat al-Maghribiyyah, which means The Western Kingdom (because is the most westerly of the Maghreb countries), Morocco is an islamic country and a constitutional monarchy. Its political capital is Rabat, although the largest city is Casablanca. Morocco administers also most of the disputed region of the Western Sahara as the Southern Provinces. The geography of Morocco spans from the Atlantic Ocean to the mountainous areas and to the Sahara Desert, a large part being mountainous.  Its rich culture is a blend of Arab, Berber, European and African influences.

0485 AUSTRALIA (New South Wales) - Greater Blue Mountains Area (UNESCO WHS)


Bordering Sydney's metropolitan area, in New South Wales, the Blue Mountains consists mainly of a rugged sandstone plateau, dissected by gorges up to 760m deep and having as the highest point the Mount Werong (1,215m). Its name is derived from the blue tinge the range takes on when viewed from a distance, caused by mie scattering which occurs when incoming ultraviolet radiation is scattered by particles within the atmosphere. The area is renowned for its majestic scenery of a unique kind, for its cultural attractions and for its relatively tranquil, alternative mode of life.

January 25, 2013

0484 TRANSNISTRIA - Fortress of Tighina (Bender)


The first traces of a settlement on the site of the present city Tighina (Bender) dates from 1st-2nd centuries AD, during the Dacians. Subsequently, mentions about a city appear in the early Middle Ages, the shoal from Tighina being protected by a fortress from the 9th-11th centuries. During Cuman domination (11th-13th centuries), the city is already named Tighina (in Cuman language means "pass"). The city was first mentioned as an important customs post in a commerce grant issued by the Moldavian voivode Alexandru cel Bun to the merchants of Lviv in 1408. Later, Ştefan cel Mare builts a fortress of earth and wood (a palanca), conquered by the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538. The Ottomans rename the city Bender, meaning "transient enhanced", and build here, within a year, under the supervision of the architect Koji Mimar Sinan, a fortress of stone.

January 24, 2013

0483 JAPAN (Chūgoku) - Itsukushima Shinto Shrine (UNESCO WHS)


From the misty beginnings of Japanese history, Miyajima Island (official known as Itsukushima Island), located in the northwest of Hiroshima Bay, in the Inland Sea of Japan, has been classified as one of the most scenic places in Japan. Out of respect for the Miyajima Gods, no one dared to live there, for more than a thousand years visitors, who were mainly fishermen, leaving the Island at the end of each day. Even today there are no hospitals or cemeteries on Miyajima Island.

January 23, 2013

0482 LITHUANIA (Panevėžys) - Traditional costumes from Panevėžys


This postcard belongs to the series Lietuviu tautiniai drabuziai (which means Lithuanian Folk Clothes - thanks Google Translate) and show (as explained Vaida - thanks a lot, I think I wouldn't have managed without these explanations) a traditional costume from 19th century from Aukštaitija (Highlands), one of the five ethnographic regions of Lithuania, in the northeast part of the country, which up to the 13th century corresponded to the Duchy of Lithuania.

January 22, 2013

0481 IRAQ - The lyre of Princess Shub-Ad of Ur


Is known that, as part of the Fertile Crescent, Tigris-Euphrates river system, named Mesopotamia ([land] between rivers) by Ancient Greeks and corresponding mostly to modern-day Iraq, was one of the cradles of civilization. The rise of the first cities in southern Mesopotamia dates from ca. 5300 BC (Uruk period), but only on the middle of the 4th millennium BC there established the Sumerians, who developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis with the Akkadians. Ur was one of the important Sumerian city-state, located at the site of modern Tell el-Muqayyar, now an inland settlement, but in the ancient period a coastal city near the mouth of the Euphrates. It dates from ca. 3800 BC, and is recorded in written history as a City State from the 26th century BC.

January 21, 2013

0480 SWITZERLAND - The Rhine Falls



Located on the Upper Rhine, near the town of Schaffhausen in northern Switzerland, Rheinfall (The Rhine Falls) is the largest plain waterfall in Europe, with 150 m wide and 23 m high. Between the 17th century and the first half of the 19th century in the north side of the falls operated a blast furnace for smelting iron, but after closing it all industrial use projects of the falls met a strong opposition from the citizens.

January 20, 2013

0479 UNITED STATES (California) - California map


With a name derived from a fictional paradise (peopled by Black Amazons and ruled by Queen Calafia), California is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third most extensive (after Alaska and Texas), having diverse geography ranges, from the Pacific Coast in the west, to the Sierra Nevada mountains in the east, from the Redwood-Douglas-fir forests of the northwest, to the Mojave Desert areas in the southeast. Also its climate varies from Mediterranean to subarctic, which determines the existence of numerous and very different ecoregions. No wonder, therefore, that California has many natural wonders, shown on the map postcard above.

January 19, 2013

0304 & 0478 AUSTRIA (Lower Austria) - Wachau Cultural Landscape - Melk Abbey (UNESCO WHS)


Posted on 10.08.2012 and completed on 19.01.2013
In 976, Leopold I, the first Margrave of the area of present-day southwestern Lower Austria from the House of Babenberg, made the castle in Melk (situated on an isolated rock commanding the Danube, adjoining the Wachau valley) his residence. In 1089, Leopold II gave the castle to Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey, who founded Stift Melk (Melk Abbey). Since then, monks have lived and worked there without interruption following the rule of Saint Benedict, managing to survive to the numerous threats arising in the about 1000 years, the main being the reign of Joseph II (who dissolved many Austrian abbeys), the Napoleonic Wars, and the Nazi Anschluss.

In the 12th century was founded a monastic school, the Stiftsgymnasium Melk, the monastery becoming quickly renowned for its manuscripts collection, but also for its scriptorium, a major site for the production of manuscripts. In the 15th century, the abbey, which had close ties with the Humanists at the University of Vienna, was the starting point of one of the most important medieval monastic reforms, the Melk Reform. Also it was a place of pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Coloman and to its great relic of the Holy Cross.


Today's Baroque abbey was built between 1702 and 1736 to designs by Jakob Prandtauer. Are famous the Stiftskirche (Abbey Church), with frescos by Johann Michael Rottmayr, the Marmorsaal (Marble Hall), which contains pilasters coated in red marble and an allegorical painted ceiling by Paul Troger, the Kaisergang (Emperors' Gallery), decorated with portraits of Austrian royalty, and the abbey park, with a wonderful pavilion.

As a tribute to the abbey and its magnificent library, Umberto Eco named the narrator from its famous The Name of the Rose "Adson von Melk", and even more than that, the action of the novel begins and ends in this monastery, "a haven of peace and serene meditation". The abbey is part of the site Wachau Cultural Landscape, inscribed in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in December 2000.

About the stamps
On the first postcard
Last year, Austria Post began a series intitled Photographic Art in Austria, the first stamp depicting the work o.T. 014, 2003 by Eva Schlegel. On February 24, 2012, was issued the second stamp (the one from my postcard), showing the work Stöckl, by Elfie Semotan, a portrait of the famous Austrian TV presenter Claudia Stöckl.

On the second postcard
The stamp, depicting Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz (0.70€), is part of a definite series dedicated to the modern austrian architecture, obout which I wrote here.

References
Melk Abbey - Wikipedia
Melk Abbey - Spiritual Cultural Center - Stift Melk website
Abbey and Congregation of Melk - New Advent
Photo Art stamp from Austria - Rainbow Stamp Club


sender 1: Berta / Baikalsee (postcrossing)
sent from Hagenberg im Mühlkreis (Austria) on 26.06.2012

sender 2: Ana
sent from Salzburg (Austria) on 10.08.2012

0211, 0477 UNITED KINGDOM (England) - London

0211 Views of London (1)

Posted on 18.05.2012, 19.01.2013
I don't know what I could say about London without make me feel embarrassing, so I will mention only that from about 1831 to 1925, The City was the world's largest city, thing absolutely natural, considering that was the capital of the largest empire that ever existed, covering 22.63% of world land area. The postcards contains the following:
Buckingham Palace - Located in the City of Westminster, it became the principal royal residence in 1837, after the accession of Queen Victoria.

0477 Views of London (2)

London Buses - The red double-decker buses have become a national symbol of England. The majority of the 7,500 buses in London are double-deckers.
Covent Garden - A popular shopping and tourist site, former fruit and vegetable market, located on the eastern fringes of the West End, between St. Martin's Lane and Drury Lane.
Sherlock Holmes Pub - A split level establishment, close by Trafalgar Square, with a bar on the ground floor and on the first floor, an intimate, covered roof garden and restaurant, with a lot of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia.

January 16, 2013

0471 BAHRAIN - North Gate of Hamad Town


This postcard don't depicts a landscape on Mars after the colonization of the planet, as it seems at first glance, but two of the 22 roundabouts for which is famous Hamad Town (Madinat Hamad), a city in northern Bahrain, located at 18 km South of Manama, the capital of the kingdom, which name refers to the current king, Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifah.

0470 Baltic Sea map


Bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands, Baltic Sea is a brackish sea, mostly enclosed, which has a limited exchange of water with outer oceans. Is connected to the Atlantic Ocean via Kattegat, Skagerrak and North Sea, but also by man-made waterways to the White Sea via the White Sea Canal, and to the North Sea via the Kiel Canal. It has 1,600 km long, an average of 193 km wide, and an average of 55 m deep, with the maximum depth 459 m.

January 15, 2013

0298, 0469 SPAIN (Catalonia) - Barcelona Cathedral

0298 Barcelona Cathedral (1)

Posted on 05.08.2012, 15.01.2013
In the 4th century, so before the invasion of Germanic tribes in Iberian Peninsula, Barcelona already had an Christian cathedral. This building was destroyed in 985 by Al-Mansur, better known as Almanzor, whose reign marked the peak of power for Moorish Iberia. In 1058 (after Mis Geribert, Viscounts of Barcelona, sold the site to Bishop Guislebert) was consecrated the second cathedral, in Romanesque style, and work on the present day Gothic building began in 1298.

0469 Barcelona Cathedral (2)

Named the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulàlia (in Catalan, Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia, or more commonly La Seu), the Barcelona Cathedral is a hall church, vaulted over five aisles, the outer two divided into chapels. The neo-Gothic façade was constructed over the nondescript exterior that was common to Catalan churches in the 19th century (was finished in 1890), and the roof is notable for its gargoyles.

January 14, 2013

0468 NETHERLANDS (Netherlands / Overijssel) - Staphorst traditional clothes and the crocheted wheel protectors


Located in the province Overijssel (that means "Lands across the river Issel"), the villages Staphorst and Rouveen were founded in the 13th century, when monks started to bring the swamps into culture. All the farms were built (in the traditional Low Saxon style, with green doors and window shutters) along the long road through the bog area, forming the 10 kilometres long village of Staphorst-Rouveen, phenomenon called in Dutch lintbebouwing (ribbon urbanization).

0467 CHINA (Macau) - Macau Tower and Sai Van Bridge


After two postcards with historical sights in Macau (Ruins of St. Paul's and the Senate Square), behold now one which shows the modern image of the city, namely Sai Van Bridge (Ponte de Sai Van) and Macau Tower (Torre de Macau). The bridge, the third one which connects Taipa Island and Macau Peninsula, is a cable-stayed bridge and measures 2.2 kilometers long. Inaugurated in 2004, it features a double-deck design, with an enclosed lower deck to be used in the event of strong typhoons when the other two bridges , namely Ponte Governador Nobre de Carvalho and Ponte de Amizade, are closed.

January 13, 2013

0466 GREECE (Thessaly) - Meteora (UNESCO WHS)


Even since the dawn of Christianity there were faithful who renounced to the worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work, but individually, not in an organized way. The first lavras appeared on the territory of Byzantine Empire, and Saint Pachomius was the one who organized his followers in what was to become the first Christian cenobitic monastery. The father of monasticism (which come from the greek monachos, derived from monos - alone) was Saint Basil the Great, bishop of Caesarea, who established the first rules for monastic communities, the Rule of Saint Basil.

January 12, 2013

0465 NEW YEAR (Russia) - A postcard from 1910 (reissued)


As soon as I saw this postcard I was convinced that belongs to the Soviet period. Two were the arguments. The first was that on it write "Happy New Year", which means it is a postcard for the New Year, a feast completely eclipsed by the Christmas in Russia before the Bolshevik Revolution. The second was the heroic attitude of the boy (ready for action, with chin high, the neck rigid and the chest bulging), which I always considered a Soviet attitude, not a Russian one.