June 30, 2013

0709 AUSTRALIA (Victoria) - Grampians National Park (Gariwerd)

Placed at 235km west of Melbourne, Grampians National Park is a distinct section of the Western Victorian Highlands province, which in turn is part of the larger East Australian Cordillera. This sandstone mountain ranges were named Grampians after the Grampian Mountains from Scotland, but are also known by the name Gariwerd, from the local Australian Aboriginal language. They are famous for beautiful landscapes - high rocky plateaus and sheltered gullies contrast with the surrounding flat and open farmland adjoining the park. Geological processes have sculpted sweeping slopes, craggy peaks and massive sandstone cliffs. In the postcard are the Balconies (formerly known as the Jaws of Death), one of those best scenic viewing platforms often visited by tourists and nature photographers.

June 29, 2013

0708 BULGARIA - Kukeri

Some customs are so deeply rooted in the traditions of the peoples, that they survive them and transmit to their descendants, even if their beliefs and their way of life were changed radically. One of these is kukeri, a pagan ritual dating back to the ancient Thracians and worshiped to Dionysos (the Thracian and Greek god associated with wine, fertility, and rebirth), which aims to scaring evil spirits, as well as to provide a good harvest, health, and happiness to the village during the coming year. For this, around New Year and before Lent, costumed men visit the peoples' houses at night (so that "the sun would not catch them on the road"), and after that they gather at the village square to dance wildly and amuse the people. Closely related traditions are found throughout the Balkans and Greece (in Greek-speaking Thrace - kalogeros / cuci, in former Yugoslavia - didi / didici, in Pontic Anatolia - momogeros, in Romania - capra / turca / brezaia).

0707 FRANCE (Île-de-France) - Garde républicaine on Champs-Élysées on Bastille Day

The greatest military parade in France takes place each year in Paris (since 1880, almost without exception) on the morning of 14 July, the French National Day, also known as Bastille Day. Is the oldest regular military parade in the world, and passes down the Champs-Elysées from l’Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde, where stand the President, his government and foreign ambassadors. Is opens with cadets from the military schools, followed by army Infantry, troupes de Marine, Air, Gendarmerie (including the Republican Guard), and then motorised and armoured troops. The parade traditionally ends with the Paris Fire Brigade, and a parachute display. At the same time occurs a flypast of the French Air Force and Naval Aviation.

June 28, 2013

0705 AUSTRALIA (Northern Territory) - Kakadu National Park (UNESCO WHS)

This archaeological and ethnological reserve of the size of Slovenia, located 171 km southeast of Darwin,  within the Alligator Rivers Region, has been inhabited continuously for more than 40,000 years. The cave paintings, rock carvings and archaeological sites record the skills and way of life of the region’s inhabitants, from the hunter-gatherers of prehistoric times to the Aboriginal people still living there, even if their lifestyle has changed in recent years. It is a unique example of a complex of ecosystems, including tidal flats, floodplains, lowlands and plateaux, and provides a habitat for a wide range of rare, endangered, vulnerable or endemic species of plants and animals. As a result, Kakadu National Park became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 (extensive in 1987 and1992).

0704 SPAIN (Basque Country) - Gaztelugatxe Islet

Located between the towns of Bakio and Bermeo, in the coast of Bizkaia, the tiny island Gaztelugatxe is connected to the mainland by a man made bridge. On top of the island stands a hermitage (named Gaztelugatxeko Doniene in Basque, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Spanish), dedicated to John the Baptist, that dates from the 10th century, although certain discoveries indicate that the date might be the 9th century. To reach to the hermitage, you have to climb 237 steps (or 229? or 231?), and according to legend, once gets into top, one should ring the bell three times and make a wish.

0673 & 0703 FRANCE (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) - Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge (UNESCO WHS)

Papal Palace in Avignon

Posted on 09.06.2013 and completed on 28.06.2013
Located on the left bank of the Rhône river, a few kilometres above its confluence with the Durance, Avignon was founded by Gauls, becoming then a Phocaean colony, and under the Romans a flourishing city. Ruled by Goths, and then included in the kingdoms of Burgundy and of Arles, it fell into the hands of the Saracens and was destroyed in 737 by the Franks. In 879 it ceased to belong to the Frankish kings, and in 1033 it passed to the Holy Roman Empire. At the end of the 12th century it declared itself an independent republic, but its independence was crushed in 1226 during the crusade against the Albigenses. In 1274, the Comtat became a possession of the popes, with Avignon itself, self-governing, under the overlordship of the Angevin count of Provence. The popes bought Avignon from the Angevin ruler for 80,000 florins in 1348. From then on until the French Revolution (1791), Avignon and the Comtat were papal possessions.

Avignon was one of the important centers of Christianity between 1309 and 1378, when seven successive popes resided here. Following the strife between the Pope Boniface VIII and Philip IV of France, and the death of his successor Benedict XI after only eight months in office, a conclave finally elected Clement V, a Frenchman, as Pope in 1305. Clement declined to move to Rome, remaining in France, and in 1309 moved his court to the papal enclave at Avignon.

Saint Peter Church in Avignon

During the Avignon Papacy the town underwent extensive development, one of the most important building erected in this period being the Palace of the Popes (in the first postcard), an imposing fortress placed to the north and south of the rock of the Doms, partly on the site of the Bishop's Palace. In virtue of its severe architecture, this palace belongs to the Gothic art of the South of France, being one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. It is actually made up of two buildings: the old Palais of Benedict XII which sits on the impregnable rock of Doms, and the new Palais of Clement VI, the most extravagant of the Avignon popes.

June 27, 2013

0702 MALAYSIA - An Orang Asli playing the nose flute

Orang Asli ("original people" or "first people" in Malay) are the indigenous minority peoples of Peninsular Malaysia. Actually it is a collective term introduced by anthropologists and administrators for the 18 sub-ethnic groups generally classified for official purposes under three main groups according to their different languages and customs: Negrito, Senoi and Proto-Malay. They number about 150,000, representing a mere 0.5 per cent of the national population. They retained much of their identity to the present day because of their relative isolation from the other communities and the forces of change.

0700 UNITED KINGDOM (England) - Manchester Cathedral

On his full name the Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Mary, St Denys and St George, the Manchester Cathedral was built in Perpendicular Gothic style at the end of the 15th century, but was extensively restored and extended in the Victorian period, and then again following the severe bomb damage in WWII, during the Manchester Blitz (1940). On this site there was a church since around 700 AD, and in the 13th century was erected a new one, largest. In 1422 was established here a collegiate foundation, the third warden, Ralph Langley (1465–1481), being traditionally credited with rebuilding the nave. The early 16th century also saw the construction of an almost complete sequence of chantry chapels.

June 26, 2013

0699 SPAIN (Castile-La Mancha) - Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija - Almadén (UNESCO WHS)

Mercury is a relatively rare metal, with a decisive role in the extraction of silver and gold, so the possesion of the mercury mines had a worldwide strategic importance. Until recent times, it has been produced in substantial quantities and over a long period only by a small number of mines, of which the biggest were at Almadén in Spain and Idrija in Slovenia. These two mining towns was included on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 2012, because this dual testimony is unique, and it illustrates the various industrial, territorial, urban and social elements of a specific sociotechnical system.

June 25, 2013

0698 IRAQ - The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities (UNESCO WHS)

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is made up of seven components: three archaeological sites (the archaeological cities of Uruk, Ur and Tell Eridu, which form part of the remains of the Sumerian settlements that developed in southern Mesopotamia between the 4th and the 3rd millennium BCE in the marshy delta of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) and the Ahwar of Southern Iraq, also known as the Iraqi Marshlands, one of the world’s largest inland delta systems, in an extremely hot and arid environment. 

0697 FRANCE (Hauts-de-France) - Belfry of the St. Eligius Church of Dunkirk - part of Belfries of Belgium and France (UNESCO WHS)

Dunkirk - The Belfry of the St. Eligius Church

While Italian, German and English towns opted to build town halls, in north-western Europe greater emphasis was placed, in Middle Ages and in Early Modern Period, on building belfries. If the keep was the symbol of the seigneurs, and the bell-tower the symbol of the Church, the belfry symbolized the power of the aldermen, reaching to represent the influence and wealth of the towns. In Dunkirk, a commune in northern France, 10km from the Belgian border (known for the miraculous evacuation of Allied soldiers from its beaches and harbour in 1940), there are two such belfries, the Belfry of the City Hall and the Belfry of the St. Eligius Church. The last one (from the postcard) is a brick construction with 58m hight, decorated with Gothic styles arches, which goes back to 1450.

June 24, 2013

0696 VIETNAM (Mekong Delta) - Women harvesting rice

Vietnam's culture has developed over the centuries from indigenous ancient Đông Sơn culture (flourished in the Ma River and Red River floodplains on about 1000 BC) with wet rice agriculture as its economic base. Today, it is one of world's richest agricultural regions and is the second-largest exporter worldwide (after Thailand) and the world's seventh-largest consumer of rice, which is a staple of the national diet and is called "white gold". The heart of the rice producing region of the country is Mekong Delta, which lies immediately to the west of Ho Chi Minh City, roughly forming a triangle from Mỹ Tho in the east to Châu Đốc and Hà Tiên in the northwest, down to Cà Mau and the South China Sea.

June 23, 2013

0694, 0695 RUSSIA (Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug) - A Nenet reindeer herder and Nenets' chooms


For those who don't know Russian, these postcards are part of a series called Nadym - Seasons, and shows two images of spring: a Nenet reindeer herder with his herd, and Nenets' chooms at the outskirts of Nadym. Nadym is a town located on the river with the same name, at 100km south of the Arctic Circle, mentioned in Russian chronicles for the first time in 1598. In the second half of the 19th century the settlement was deserted, and was reestablished only in 1968, after that the gas deposit Medvezhye was discovered nearby.

The Nenets are the most numerous branch of the Samoyedic peoples, which forms a linguistic group, not an ethnic or cultural one. There are almost 42.000 Nenets in the Russian Federation (most of them living in two autonomous okrugs: Yamalo-Nenets, and Nenets), and are divided into two distinct groups based on their economy: the Tundra Nenets (living far to the north) and the Khandeyar or Forest Nenets.

They are the guardians of a style of reindeer herding that is the last of its kind. Through a yearly migration of over a 1.000km, these people move gigantic herds of reindeer from summer pastures in the north to winter pastures just south of the Arctic Circle. No-one knows for certain whether it is the reindeer that lead the people or vice versa. What is certain is that fewer places on earth are home to a more challenging environment, with temperatures of -50C. Such a environment unites the people physically through a regimented work ethic, but they are also united by a robust and vibrant culture, which survived to a turbulent history, from early Russian colonisation, to Stalin’s terror regime, and to the modern day dangers of a rapacious oil and gas development programme.

The Nenets still rely on traditional clothing sewn by the women. A Nenets man wears a Malitsa which is a coat made of around 4 reindeer skins, the fur being closest to the skin on the inside and the leather on the outside. The Malitsa has an integrated hood and gloves and is similar to a poncho with no zips or buttons. In extreme cold conditions men wear yet another layer of reindeer fur, known as a Gus, which has leather on the inside and fur on the outside. The women wear a Yagushka which has a double layer of around 8 reindeer skins and which is buttoned at the front. Both men and women wear hip-high reindeer skin boots which consist of an inner (tobaki) and outer boot (kisy) that are worn together and tied up with a belt.

0693 CROATIA (Primorje-Gorski Kotar) - Lubenice (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

Located in Kvarner Gulf of Adriatic Sea, Cres island has been inhabited since the Paleolithic time and was later ruled by the Greeks, the Roman Empire, and the Byzantine Empire. In the 7th century the island was invaded by the Croats, who lost it in favor of Republic of Venice in the 10th century. The island went through a change of rulers for centuries, being ruled by Croats, Hungarians, Venetians, Austrian Empire, and even Italians, between the end of WWI and 1947, when was assigned to Yugoslavia.

June 22, 2013

0692 GERMANY (Hesse) - Schwälmer Tracht

If you find that the girl in this postcard looks like Little Red Riding Hood, you're not wrong, because the story of Brothers Grimm originates in the Schwalm, from where also come the children from the picture. The Schwalm is a small area situated in the north of the German state of Hesse, through which flows the river of the same name.

0691 INDIA (Rajasthan) - Vijay Stambha in Chittorgarh Fort - part of Hill Forts of Rajasthan (UNESCO WHS)

0691 Vijay Stambha in Chittorgarh Fort

The site Hill Forts of Rajasthan includes six majestic forts Chittorgarh Fort, Kumbhalgarh Fort, Ranthambore Fort, Gagron Fort, Amber Fort, Jaisalmer Fort. The ecclectic architecture of the forts, some up to 20km in circumference, bears testimony to the power of the Rajput princely states that flourished in the region from the 8th to the 18th centuries. Enclosed within defensive walls are major urban centres, palaces, trading centres and other buildings including temples that often predate the fortifications within which developed an elaborate courtly culture that supported learning, music and the arts.

June 21, 2013

0690 GERMANY (Hamburg) - Gutenberghaus in Harburg

Between 12th century, when was first mentioned, and the first half of the 20th century, Harburg (Harburg upon Elbe since the 19th century) was a town in its own right. In 1937 it was incorporated into the city of Hamburg, now being a borough of the city, and a quarter in this borough. The borough Harburg lies on the southern shores of the river Elbe and covers parts of the port of Hamburg, residential and rural areas and some research institutes. In the postcard is the Gutenberg house, situated on the corner of the streets Julius Ludowieg and Harburg Rathaus. More I couldn't find about this building.

June 20, 2013

0689 FRANCE (Occitania) - Mont-Louis - part of Fortifications of Vauban (UNESCO WHS)

After the movement of the frontier between France and Spain as a result of the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659), the Spaniards fortified the town of Puigcerdà to protect Cerdanya. When war broke out again, Spanish troops undertook raids across the frontier from their new fortess, so that king Louis XIV sent Vauban to the area in 1679 to ensure the frontier. The location he chose for the new fortress was just outside Cerdanya itself, at the head of the Aude and Tet valleys and guarding the routes to Toulouse and Perpignan.

0688 MOROCCO - A peddler of oranges

In Morocco, as in all the Mediterranean countries, oranges are among the fruits grown typically. Although the groves occupying relatively small areas, more than 20 varieties of oranges and mandarins are produced in this country, and the peddlers of oranges aren't rare in some area in Morocco.

June 19, 2013

0687 GERMANY (Baden-Württemberg) - The Swabian-Alemannic Fasnet in Freiburg

Fasnet (Fasnacht) is a carnival celebrated in the towns and villages of the Alpine areas of Austria, Southern Germany, the Black Forest, the area around Lake Constance, and in German-speaking France and Switzerland, wherever Alemannic tribes had settled. It is more a pagan affair, in which the old traditions of driving out winter have mingled with the pre-Lenten celebrations. The celebrants dress as spirits, demons, and witches, wearing heavy wooden masks, intricately carved and handed down from generation to generation. Recurring over and over are representations of the Wise Fool with smooth, serene, pale faces, scary witches with grotesque features and animal masks of all kinds, and masks of mythological characters that figure in local lore and history. The Zünfte (craftsmen's guilds) first began this custom. Today, only the name Narrenzunft (fools' guild), used for the clubs organizing the festivities, reminds us of this historical background.

June 18, 2013

0684 FRANCE (Normandy) - Mont Saint-Michel and its Bay (UNESCO WHS)

"Rising from a hazy expanse of sand and waves, Mont Saint-Michel appears like Man's defiance of the elements and of time. A rock lost in a landscape smoothed by the wind." I think this description, present in many tourist guides, is very suitable for this rocky tidal island located in Normandy, one kilometre off the country's northwestern coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. The island's highest point is 92m above sea level.

June 17, 2013

0683 SPAIN (Catalonia) - Crypt at the Colònia Güell - part of Works of Antoni Gaudí (UNESCO WHS)

Crypt at the Colònia Güell is an unfinished work by Antoni Gaudí, built as a place of worship for the people in a manufacturing suburb in Santa Coloma de Cervelló, near Barcelona. Colònia Güell was the brainchild of Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi, Count of Güell, the main patron and lifetime friend of Gaudí, but only the crypt was finished (between 1908 and 1916), because the textile industrialist lost the profits from his business, and the money ran out. This is one of the architect's most studied works and a precedent for many of the solutions used in Sagrada Familia.

0682 PORTUGAL (Faro) - A traditional street in a town in Algarve

Algarve, the southernmost region of mainland Portugal, now Faro District, had no institutions, special privileges, or autonomy, but was considered always one of the jewels of the Portuguese Crown. From  Afonso III (r. 1248-1279) until the proclamation of the Portuguese Republic (1910) all the Portuguese monarchs bore the title of King of Portugal and Algarve. It extend south of the Tagus valley to the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula, the length of the south-facing coastline being approximately 155km, and beyond the Cape St. Vincent it stretches a further 50km to the north.