August 31, 2014

1211-1214 UNITED STATES (New York) - US Open Tennis Championships


For those who aren't familiar with tennis, US Open is one of the world's most important tennis championships, chronologically the fourth and final tennis major comprising the Grand Slam each year, the other three being the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. It is held annually in late August and early September over a two-week period. The main tournament consists of five event championships: men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles, with additional tournaments for senior, junior, and wheelchair players. Since 1978, the tournament has been played on acrylic hard courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at New York City, within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.


The tournament was first held, as national championship, in August 1881 on the grass courts at the Newport Casino (Newport, Rhode Island). In 1915 it was relocated to the West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills (New York). The open era began in 1968, when 96 men and 63 women entered the event, and prize money totaled $100,000 (in 2014 reached $36,203,760). It is owned and organized by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), and net proceeds from ticket sales are used to promote the development of tennis in the United States. It is the only Grand Slam tournament that has been played every year since its inception.

 

USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where takes place US Open, has 22 courts inside its 46.5 acres and 11 in the adjoining park, and was opened in August, 1978. The complex's three stadia are among the largest tennis stadia in the world. The main court is located at the 22,547-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, opened in 1997 and named after the African American player who won the men's final of the inaugural US Open in 1968. The next largest court is the Louis Armstrong Stadium, opened in 1978, extensively renovated from the original Singer Bowl. It was the main stadium from 1978 to 1996, and its peak capacity neared 18,000 seats, but was reduced to 10,200 after the opening of Arthur Ashe Stadium.


The third largest court is the 6,000-seat Grandstand Stadium, attached to the Louis Armstrong Stadium. In 2011, Court 17 (nicknamed "The Pit") was opened as a fourth show court, with large television screens and electronic line calling which allows player challenges. It initially held 2,500 with temporary stands, but will allow over 3,000 fans after its completion in 2012. Sidecourts 4, 7, and 11 each have a seating capacity of over 1,000. In 2005, all US Open (and US Open Series) tennis courts were given blue inner courts to make it easier to see the ball on television; the outer courts remained green.

August 28, 2014

1210 MONGOLIA (Arkhangai) - Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake


Known also as White Lake and located in the Khangai Mountains in central Mongolia, in Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park, Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake is an astonishingly beautiful lake with crystal clear fresh water. Torrents of lava issuing from the Khorgo volcano, situated near the eastern end of the lake, blocked the north and south Terkh rivers, so forming the dammed lake of Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur at an altitude of 2.060m above sea level. The lake is 16km wide, 4 to 10m deep and 20km in length, a total of 61 sq.meters. The Suman River springs from lake, which supports pike and other fish, and also rare birds,

August 25, 2014

1208 BELGIUM (West Flanders) - Lacemakers in Bruges


The origin of lace is difficult to locate in both time and place. Some authors assume that the manufacturing of lace started ever since the Ancient Rome, but firm evidence there are only since the 15th century, when Charles V decreed that lace making was to be taught in the schools and convents of the Belgian provinces. Actually the lace was designed to replace embroidery in a manner that could easily transform the dresses, the lace could be unsewn from one material to be replaced on another. In the late 16th century there was a rapid development in the field of lace, used in both fashion and home décor. Flanders maintained an active exchange with Italy, so that it wasn't unnatural that, at the time, laces were known and made in Flanders. Its linen was superior to other countries of Europe, so the Flemish exported great quantity, and finer then any other part of Europe. Spinning flax threads and weaving fine textiles is closely associated with the early commercial history of this region, and when the progress of manufactures was endangered by the religious persecutions of the 16th century, is said that  the linen trade have saved the country from ruin.

1207 UNITED KINGDOM (Pitcairn Islands) - The map of the Pitcairn Island


The Pitcairn Islands, officially named the Pitcairn Group of Islands, are a group of four volcanic islands (Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno) that form the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific. Only Pitcairn, the second largest island measuring about 3.6km from east to west, is inhabited, by the 56 descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians (or Polynesians) who accompanied them. All the residents are Seventh-day Adventist, due to a successful mission in the 1890s, and live in one settlement, Adamstown. Henderson Island, covering about 86% of the territory's total land area and supporting a rich variety of animals in its nearly inaccessible interior, is also capable of supporting a small human population despite its scarce fresh water, but access is difficult, owing to its outer shores being steep limestone cliffs covered by sharp coral. In 1988 this island was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

August 24, 2014

1206 JAPAN (Kyūshū) - Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival


Hakata Gion Yamakasa is a Japanese festival celebrated from 1 to 15 July in Hakata, Fukuoka. Its rites centre is on Kushida Jinja, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Amaterasu and Susanoo, founded in 757. It has a seven hundred and fifty year history, attracts up to a million spectators, and in 1979 was designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property. The sound of the Kaki Yamakasa has been selected by the Ministry of the Environment as one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan. It is famous for a 5km race through the streets of Hakata, in which compete teams of men bearing on their shoulders yamakasa, which are large 1-ton floats elaborately decorated.

1205 FRANCE (New Caledonia) - A traditional hut in Maré Island


Maré Island is the second-largest of the Loyalty Islands, in the archipelago of New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. The population of Maré is about 6900, of mainly Melanesian heritage (less than 2% of the population is of European ancestry), more specifically Kanak. The traditional hut is architecturally representative of the Kanak culture, its features representing the organization and lifestyle of the tribes. Fitting perfectly into the landscape, enhanced by neatly trimmed grass and coconut palms, the island hut has lasted through the centuries. It is found everywhere: there are no inhabited places without a hut.

1204 SWEDEN - The world's largest struck coin


In 1646 a ship, loaded with iron bars, was wrecked in the archipelago of Gryt in Östergötland. In the cabin there was a chest containing nearly two thousand Swedish copper coins. Furthermore, five newly issued plate money coins were kept in the cabin. The denomination of each one of them was 10 daler sm, four of them were struck in 1644 and one in 1645, during the reign of Queen Christina of Sweden. The lack of silver in Sweden at the beginning of the 17th c. was the main reason why copper coins were brought into production, the first ones being issued in 1624 in low denominations. As many as 26 539 plate money coins with the denomination of ten daler sm were minted during 1644. In 1645 only 235 pieces were struck until the production ceased. The centre stamp shows X DALER Sölff:Mnt (10 daler silver coin) and the mintmaster’s mark, Markus Kock. The corner stamps show a royal crown and the initials C R S (Christina Regina Sveciae = Christina, the Queen of Sweden) 1644.

1203 CANADA (Ontario) - Toronto's Old City Hall reflected in Cadillac Fairview Tower


Toronto's Old City Hall, one of the largest buildings in Toronto and the largest civic building in North America upon completion in 1899, housed the city council until 1966. Designed by prominent Toronto architect Edward James Lennox in a variation of Romanesque Revival architecture known as Richardsonian Romanesque, the building took more than a decade to build and cost more than $2.5 million. It can be described as a massive square quad with a courtyard in the middle. Situated at the front elevation, its clock tower was placed off centre to provide a terminating vista for Bay Street. The entire building has ornamentation derived from ancient Roman art. There are structural decorations used by the different colors of stone.Part of the Toronto Eaton Centre, a shopping mall and office complex in downtown Toronto, named after the now-defunct Eaton's department store chain, Cadillac Fairview Tower is a skyscraper designed by Bregman + Hamann Architects, and Zeidler Partnership Architects and completed in 1982. It has 36 floors and 142m hight.

August 23, 2014

1202 AUSTRALIA (Christmas Island) - Flying Fish Cove


Christmas Island is a territory of Australia (since 1957) in the Indian Ocean, which has an area of 135 square kilometres, and a population of 2,072 (70% Australian Chinese, 20% European, and 10% Malay), who live in a number of "settlement areas" on the northern tip of the island. The main settlement is Flying Fish Cove (also known as Kampong), the first British settlement on the island, established in 1888. About a third of the territory's total population lives in Flying Fish Cove. There is a small harbour which serves tourists with yachts.

August 22, 2014

1201 UNITED STATES (Virginia) - Assateague Lighthouse


Located on the southern end of Assateague Island (a 60 km long barrier island located off the eastern coast of Delmarva Peninsula) off the coast of the Virginia Eastern Shore, within the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Assateague Lighthouse is owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard and is still used as an active aid in navigation. Conical in shape and painted in alternating bands of red and white, it has a base of over 9m and a height of  43m. A cast iron stairway reaches the existing electric revolving light which can be seen for 19 nautical miles. Was constructed in 1867 to replace a shorter lighthouse built in 1833.

1200 FRANCE (Normandy) - The Church and the Statue of Saint Joan of Arc in Rouen


Historic capital city of Normandy, one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe, and one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties, which ruled both England and large parts of modern France from the 11th to the 15th centuries, Rouen has also an unfortunate fame, because there was burned at the stake Joan of Arc, The Maid of Orléans, one of the iconic figures of France and a Roman Catholic saint. Born to a peasant family at Domrémy (in north-east France), Joan said she received divine visions instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent Joan to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence after the siege was lifted in only nine days. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII's coronation at Reims. On 23 May 1430, she was captured by the English-Burgundian faction, being later handed over to the English, and then put on trial, declared guilty, and burned at the stake on 30 May 1431, dying at about 19 years of age.

1199 ARMENIA - The monasteries of Tatev and Tatevi Anapat and the adjacent areas of the Vorotan Valley (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)


Located in southeastern Armenia, on the edge of Vorotan gorge, the biggest gorge in the country, at 850m deep, Tatev is known as the bishopric seat of Syunik and played a significant role in the history of the region. The buildings of Tatev itself, protected on two sides by precipitous ravines and on the other two sides by defensive walls, dates from the 9th to the 13th centuries, and the monastery of Tatevi Anapat, on the bottom of the valley, dates to the 17h century. In the 14th and 15th centuries  it hosted one of the most important Armenian medieval universities, which contributed to the advancement of science, religion and philosophy, reproduction of books and development of miniature painting. Scholars of the Tatev University contributed to the preservation of Armenian culture and creed during one of its most turbulent periods in its history.

1198 ITALY (Emilia-Romagna) - Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna (UNESCO WHS)


With an Etruscan name, Ravenna was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 402 up to its collapse in 476, then served as the capital of the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths until it was re-conquered in 540 by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. Afterwards, the city formed the centre of the  Exarchate of Ravenna until the invasion of the Franks in 751, after which it became the seat of the Kingdom of the Lombards. The early Christian religious monuments in Ravenna are of outstanding significance by virtue of the supreme artistry of the mosaic art that they contain, and also because of the crucial evidence that they provide of artistic and religious relationships and contacts at an important period of European cultural history. All eight buildings included among UNESCO sites (the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Neonian Baptistery, the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, the Arian Baptistery, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Mausoleum of Theodoric, the Church of San Vitale and the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe) were constructed in the 5th and 6th centuries.

August 21, 2014

1197 CHINA (Tibet) - A Lhoba man in traditional clothes


Lhoba is a term which apply to a diverse amalgamation of Tibeto-Burman tribespeople living in and around Pemako, a region in Southeastern Tibet. It is largely promoted by the Chinese government, which officially recognises Lhoba as one of the 56 ethnic groups in China, even though it has, according to official statistics, only 2970 members, and most people designated as Lhoba don't self-identify as a single entity. The two main tribal groups which fall under the designation Lhoba in are the Yidu (Idu Mishmi) and the Bo'gaer (Bokar Adi), who are found in far greater numbers inside Arunachal Pradesh, a state of India (claimed by China). Other groups identified by Chinese authorities as Lhoba include the Na (Bangni). The area which Lhoba live today was known as Lhoyü in medieval texts, but it isn't known whether they inhabited the area at the time of Tibetan conquest, in 7th century.

1196 GREECE (Crete) - Fortress of Spinalonga (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)


The island of Spinalonga, officially known as Kalydon, is located in the Gulf of Elounda in north-eastern Crete, in Lasithi, next to the town of Elounda, near the Spinalonga peninsula, which often causes confusion. Actually it is an island only from 1526, since the Venetian occupation, when it was carved out of the coast for defense purposes. In 1578 the Venetians charged the engineer Genese Bressani to plan the island's fortifications.

1195 MICRONESIA (Pohnpei) - Miller time at a Pohnpei river


About Pohnpei, The Garden Island of Micronesia, I wrote few words here. I should add that its tall mountain peak, Nahna Laud (772m), receives one of the world's highest rainfalls (over 8,000mm annually), creating a lush tropical jungle and 40 rivers that sweep over the rugged terrain in a series of swift running streams and create spectacular waterfalls. The Nanpil Watershed, situated on the northern side of the island, is unique in many aspects. This area of approximately 5 square km provides inflow to the Nanpil River that is the main source of the island's water supply. Unfortunatelly In recent years large areas of native forests are being cleared for housing and road development projects and unmanaged agricultural activities, activities which have negatively impacting the biodiversity health. Very close of Kolonia, the capital of Federated States of Micronesia until 1989, now the capital of Pohnpei State, is a large natural pool of Nanpil River, where the river temporarily slows down. Further along the same river are the spectacular Liduduhniap Twin Waterfalls.

August 19, 2014

1194 MALAWI - A witch doctor and his utensils


The area of Africa now known as Malawi had a very small population of hunter-gatherers before waves of Bantu-speaking peoples began emigrating from the north around the 10th century. Although most of the Bantu peoples continued south, some remained permanently and founded ethnic groups based on common ancestry. By 1500 AD, the tribes had established the Kingdom of Maravi, which had broken up by 1700 into areas controlled by many individual ethnic groups.

1193 UKRAINE (Odessa Oblast) - Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral in Odessa


The first and foremost church in the city of Odessa, the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral (Saviour's Transfiguration Cathedral), belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), and was founded in 1794 by Gavril Bănulescu-Bodoni, a Romanian clergyman who served as Metropolitan of Moldavia (1792), Metropolitan of Kherson and Crimea (1793–1799), Metropolitan of Kiev and Halych (1799–1803), Exarch of Moldo-Wallachia (1806–1812), and Archbishop of Chişinău (1812–1821), being the first head of the church in Bessarabia after the Russian annexation. The building lagged several years behind schedule when the newly appointed governor of New RussiaArmand-Emmanuel de Vignerot du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu, employed the Italian architect Francesco Frappoli to complete the edifice.

August 18, 2014

1192 SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES - The national bird of the country


Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the Lesser Antilles Island arc, in the southern portion of the Windward Islands, between Saint Lucia, Barbados and Grenada. The country has a French and British colonial history and is independent since 1979. Its national bird is Saint Vincent Parrot (Amazona guildingii), known also as Saint Vincent Amazon. It is the only type of parrot on the island, and also an endemic species. It is a large, approximately 40 cm long, multi-colored parrot, with a yellowish white, blue and green head, greenish-bronze upperparts plumage, and violet blue-green wings. There is no difference in plumage or size between the sexes, and the immatures are duller than the adult birds. This noisy parrot uses a variety of calls including yapping, honking, shrieking, bubbling and squawking. Hunting for food, trapping for the cage-bird trade and habitat loss were the principal causes of this species's decline. Deforestation has been the result of forestry activities, the expansion of banana cultivation, charcoal production, the loss of nesting-trees felled by trappers seeking young birds for trade, and natural events such as hurricanes and volcanic eruptions. Due to all of these contributing factors, the St. Vincent Parrot is considered Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

1191 DENMARK (Zealand) - Stevns Klint (UNESCO WHS)


This geological site, located at 6km southeast of Store Heddinge on the Danish island of Zealand, comprises a 15 km-long fossil-rich coastal white chalk cliff, offering exceptional evidence of the impact of the Chicxulub meteorite that crashed into the planet at the end of the Cretaceous, about 65 million years ago. Researchers think that this caused the most remarkable mass extinction ever, responsible for the disappearance of over 50 per cent of all life on Earth. An exceptional fossil record is visible at the site, showing the complete succession of fauna and micro-fauna charting the recovery after the mass extinction. Subject to frequent erosion, the cliff rises to a height of up to 40m.

August 17, 2014

1188 BELGIUM (Flemish Brabant) - Leuven Town Hall


Located about 25km east of Brussels, Leuven is home to Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewing group and one of the five largest consumer-goods companies in the world; and to the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the largest and oldest university of the Low Countries and the oldest Catholic university still in existence. Mentioned for the first time in 891, it became between the 11th and 14th centuries the most important centre of trade in the Duchy of Brabant, and in the 15th century witnessed a new golden era. One of the city's  landmarks, the Town Hall (in the postcard), was erected in this period.

0901, 1187 UZBEKISTAN (Samarqand) - Samarkand, Crossroad of Cultures (UNESCO WHS)


Posted on 14.12.2013, and 17.08.2014
Along with Bukhara, Samarkand, located in a large oasis in the valley of the Zerafshan River, is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, prospering from its location on the trade route between China and the Mediterranean (Silk Road). With a history of over two and a half millennia, it was the crossroads of world cultures, having its most significant development between 14th and 15th centuries, when it was capital of the powerful Temurid realm. Founded c. 700 BC by the Sogdians, it was successively conquered by Alexander the Great, Sassanians, Hephtalites, Göktürks, Sassanids, and Umayyad Caliphate. During this period, Samarkand was home to a number of religions, including Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Judaism and Nestorian Christianity, but after the Arab conquest of Sogdiana, Islam became the dominant religion.


The Abbasid control was replaced with that of the Iranian Samanids, overthrown by Turkish tribes around the year 1000. Genghis Khan conquered and pillaged completely the city in 1220, killing all who took refuge in the citadel and the mosque. After 150 years, another mongol, Timur, made Samarkand his capital, rebuilt it and populated it with great artisans and craftsmen. Timur gained a reputation as a patron of the arts and the city grew to become the centre of Transoxiana. In 1500 the Uzbek nomadic warriors took control of it, and in the 16th century the Shaybanids moved the capital to Bukhara, Samarkand entering into decline. The city came under Russian rule in 1868, and so remained until 1991, when Uzbekistan declared independence.