April 30, 2015

1555 SAUDI ARABIA - Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina

Established and originally built by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and for this reason named the Prophet's Mosque, Al-Masjid an-Nabaw is the second mosque built in the history of Islam and is now one of the largest in the world. It is the second-holiest site in Islam, after al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. The site was originally adjacent to Muhammad's house; he settled there after his Hijra to Medina in 622 CE, and shared in the heavy work of construction. The mosque also served as a community center, a court, and a religious school. There was a raised platform for the people who taught the Quran. Subsequent Islamic rulers greatly expanded and decorated it. In 1909, it became the first place in the Arabian Peninsula to be provided with electrical lights.

1554 UNITED STATES (Tennessee) - Graceland

Graceland is a mansion in Memphis (located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in the vast Whitehaven community, at about 15 km from Downtown and less than 6km north of the Mississippi border), that was home to Elvis Presley, "the King". It was opened to the public in 1982, and meantime has become one of the most-visited private homes in America, with over 600,000 visitors a year, behind the White House. Elvis Presley died at the estate on August 16, 1977. Presley, his parents Gladys and Vernon Presley, and his grandmother, are buried there in what is called the Meditation Garden. A memorial gravestone for Presley's stillborn twin brother, Jesse Garon, is also at the site.

1553 CHAD - On the road through the dead heart of Africa

Chad is a landlocked country in Central Africa, located at south to Libya and composed of a desert zone in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the centre and a more fertile Sudanese savanna zone in the south. Because of the long distance from the sea and the country's largely desert climate, it is sometimes referred to as the "Dead Heart of Africa". As a result is the seventh poorest country in the world, with 80% of the population living below the poverty line. Also over 80% of the population relies on subsistence farming and livestock raising for its livelihoo. The Sahel is ideal pastureland for large herds of commercial cattle and for goats, sheep, donkeys and horses. More than half of Chadians are muslims, largely concentrated in northern and eastern of the country.

April 29, 2015

1552 GERMANY (Bavaria) - Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Mittenwald

Mittenwald - The spire of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul,
with Viererspitze in background

Mittenwald is located in the Valley of the River Isar, by the northern foothills of the Alps, on the route between the old banking and commercial centre of Augsburg, to the north, and Innsbruck to the south-east, beyond which is the Brenner Pass and the route to Lombardy, therefore it was for a long time an important transit centre on a relatively low transalpine route. It is also famous for the manufacture of violins, violas and cellos which began in the mid-17th century by the Klotz family of violin makers, and has been a popular stop with tourists since the boom in motorized tourism began in the 1930s.

1551 TAIWAN - Puyuma Express

The Puyuma Express is an express train service of the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) which began commercial operations on 6 February 2013 during the Chinese New Year. As the mountains of Taiwan are a barrier to coast-to-coast transportation, vehicular travel is vulnerable to traffic and crowding. The high speed (max 150km/h) and capacity of this express, belonging to the Tzu-Chiang Limited Express class, helps to alleviate this problem. Imported in 2012, since 2013 they have been running between Hualien and Taipei, on the curvy Yilan Line at the existing narrow gauge tracks. It uses the tilting electrical multiple unit series TEMU2000 built by Nippon Sharyo. The TRA purchased a total of 136 Puyuma cars. In the postcard is a delivery of a Puyuma Express train, in 2012 or 2013.

1550 SERBIA - Belgrade

1. Belgrade Fortress - Zindan Gate 2. The Church of Saint Sava
3. The Pobednik 4. The House of the National Assembly

Belgrade (White City), the capital and largest city of Serbia, located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans, has a long history, which started in the 6th millennium BC, with Vinča culture, one of the most important prehistoric cultures of Europe. In antiquity, Thraco-Dacians inhabited the region, the city being conquered by Celts, and then by the Romans. It was settled by the Slavs in the 520s, and changed hands several times between the Byzantine Empire, Frankish Empire, Bulgarian Empire and Kingdom of Hungary before it became the capital of Serbian king Stephen Dragutin (1282-1316).

April 28, 2015

1549 UNITED KINGDOM (Cayman Islands) - Best wishes from Hell

Hell is a group of short, black, limestone formations located in Grand Cayman, the largest of the three Cayman Islands. Located in West Bay, it is roughly the size of half a soccer field. Visitors aren't permitted to walk on the limestone formations but viewing platforms are provided. There are numerous versions of how Hell received its name, but they are generally variations on "a ministration exclaimed, 'This is what Hell must look like.'" Regardless of how it first came to be called Hell, the name stuck and the area has become a tourist attraction, featuring a fire-engine red hell-themed post office from which you can send "postcards from hell", and a gift shop with 'Satan' Ivan Farrington passing out souvenirs while greeting people with phrases like 'How the hell are you?' and 'Where the hell are you from?' In the postcard is the former Post Office, which is not in use any more.

1548 SRI LANKA - Buduruvagala

Buduruvagala - Stone carvings of Maitreya, Vajrapani
and an unidentified Bodhisattva

Buduruwagala is an ancient buddhist temple, which consists of seven statues carved on the eastern side of an impressive cliff, belonging to the Mahayana school. Its name is derived from the words for Buddha (Budu), images (ruva) and stone (gala). The statues date back to the 10th century, but nothing is known about their history or why someone would choose to make such huge images in such a remote place. The largest of them, a Buddha with the right hand in the gesture of fearlessness, has 16m from head to toe, being the largest standing Buddha statue of the island.

1547 TUNISIA - Archaeological Site of Carthage (UNESCO WHS)

The city of Carthage, founded in the 9th century B.C. on the Gulf of Tunis, on a promontory with sea inlets to the north and the south, developed from a Phoenician colony into the capital of an empire, because all ships crossing the Mediterranean Sea had to pass between Sicily and the coast of Tunisia, where the city was built. The area was before inhabited by Berber people who also became the bulk of Carthage's population and constituted a significant part of its army, economy and administration. Native Berbers and settling Phoenicians in Carthage mixed in different ways including religion and language, creating the Punic language and culture.

1546 PORTUGAL (Santarém) - A young mower in Ribatejo

The Ribatejo is the most central of the traditional provinces of Portugal, crossed by the Tagus River (Ribatejo translates to "shores of Tagus"), with no coastline or border with Spain. The region contains some of the nation's richest agricultural land, and it produces most of the animals used in the Portuguese style of bullfighting. In 1976 the province was dissolved, and most of the area was incorporated into the Santarém District. The traditional clothes of Portuguese women varies from a region to other, but they have in common bright and vivid colors, and the kerchief, an obligatory part of the national costume.

April 27, 2015

1545 GUYANA - Stabroek Market in Georgetown

Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, was established under the name Longchamps in 1782, during a brief occupation by the French of the Dutch colony of Demerara. The original name of the town was changed to Stabroek in 1784, after Nicholaas Geelvinck (1732-1787), Lord of Stabroek, the then President of the  Dutch West India Company. The city's name changed again in 1812 when, under British rule, it became Georgetown. A ward of the city retains the name Stabroek, and also its main market, which has existed on or near its present location since the 18th century.

1544 SWEDEN (Stockholm) - Waldemarsudde

Now a museum located on Djurgården in central Stockholm, Waldemarsudde (Cape of Waldemar) is the scenic former home of the Prince Eugen (1865-1947), Duke of Närke, the fourth and youngest son of Oscar II, King of Sweden (1872-1907) and of Norway (1872-1905). The prince showed early artistic promise which later on would result in a life-long commitment to arts. As a young student in Paris he took his first steps as an art collector, and by the turn of the century, he bought the property at Waldemarsudde where he found the space needed for his own works and the art he collected. He bequeathed his home and his collections to the Swedish state and since 1948 it has been open to the public as a museum.

April 26, 2015

1543 UNITED STATES (New York) - Yankee Stadium in New York City


Yankee Stadium is located in the Bronx, northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City, and is the home ballpark for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the home stadium for New York City FC of Major League Soccer (MLS). With a capacity of 52335, it replaced the original stadium, and is placed one block north of the original, on the former site of Macombs Dam Park. Its construction began in August 2006, spanned many years and faced many controversies, including the high public cost and the loss of public parkland. The new stadium, opened on April 2, 2009, is meant to evoke elements of the original Yankee Stadium, both in its original 1923 state and its post-renovation state in 1976.

1542 UNITED STATES (Colorado) - Mesa Verde National Park (UNESCO WHS)

Among the American Indian civilizations, that of the Anasazi Indians and of their distant descendants, the Pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona are indeed quite original, owing in part to the substantial rigours of their natural environment: the south-western part of Colorado with its mesas cut by deep canyons. On the high limestone and sandstone plateau, which in one place reaches an altitude of 2,620m above sea level, the climate is semi-arid. The first signs of regular human occupation go back to the 6th century of the current era.

April 25, 2015

1539 TAIWAN - Tainan Confucian Temple

The Tainan Confucius Temple, also called the Scholarly Temple, was built in 1665, when the warlord Cheng Ching, son of Koxinga, approved of the proposal by Chief of General Staff Chen Yung-hua to construct the Temple on the right side and the National Academy. On the east side stood Ming-Lun Hall, built as a place for instructors to offer lectures and cultivate intellectuals. On the west side was the sanctuary called Ta-Cheng Hall (Hall of Great Achievement), housing the mortuary tablet of Confucius, as well as those of his distinguished disciples.

1432, 1538 SPAIN (Extremadura) - Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (UNESCO WHS)

1432 Mérida (Emerita Augusta) - Roman amphitheatre and theatre

Posted on 31.01.2015, 25.04.2015
The Roman colony of Emerita Augusta (present day Mérida) was founded in 25 BC by Augustus, to resettle emeritus soldiers discharged from the Roman army from two veteran legions of the Cantabrian Wars: Legio V Alaudae and Legio X Gemina. Three years later it became the capital of the new Roman province of Lusitania, which included approximately all of modern Portugal south of the Douro river and part of modern Spain (Extremadura and a small part of Salamanca, in Castile and León). The well-preserved remains of the old city include, in particular, a large bridge over the Guadiana, an amphitheatre, a theatre, a vast circus and an exceptional water-supply system. It is an excellent example of a provincial Roman capital during the empire and in the years afterwards.

1538 Mérida (Emerita Augusta) - Mithraeum House

The Roman Theatre was built from 16 to 15 BC and dedicated by the consul  Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. It was renovated in the late 1st or early 2nd century AD, possibly by the emperor Trajan, and again between 330 and 340 during Constantine's reign. With the advent of Christianity as Rome's sole state religion, theatrical performances were officially declared immoral: the theatre was abandoned and most of its fabric was covered with earth, leaving only its upper tiers of seats (summa cavea). In Spanish tradition, these were known as "The Seven Chairs" in which it is popularly thought that several Moorish kings held court to decide the fate of the city.

April 24, 2015

1537 NAMIBIA - Ju/'hoansi bushmen in Eastern Bushmanland

Khoisan is a unifying name for two groups of peoples of Southern Africa, who share physical and putative linguistic characteristics distinct from the Bantu majority of the region. Culturally, they are divided into the foraging San (or Bushmen), and the pastoral Khoi, previously known as Hottentots. The San include the indigenous inhabitants of the region before the southward Bantu migrations from Central and East Africa. Over time, some Khoi abandoned pastoralism and adopted the hunter-gatherer economy of the San, and are now considered San. Similarly, the Bantu Damara people who migrated south abandoned agriculture and adopted the Khoi economy. Large Khoisan populations remained in some arid areas, notably in the Kalahari Desert.

April 23, 2015

1536 POLAND (Subcarpathia) - Dubiecko Castle

Dubiecko is a village located at 36km southeast of Rzeszów, in which is situated the castle with the same name, in nowadays became hotel. The building was the birthplace of Stanislaw Stadnicki (1551-1610), a nobleman known as troublemaker, called The Devil of Łańcut for his violent behaviour. Enemy of  Jan Zamoyski, Grand Chancellor of the Crown, in 1606 he became one of the leaders of the rokosz of Zebrzydowski. After his death, his family continued the "tradition", with his wife earning the nickname of The Łańcut Devil-woman and his sons, The Łancut Devil-children. He is one of the characters on the painting by Jan Matejko: Kazanie Skargi (The Sermon of Piotr Skarga).

HUNGARY (Budapest) - Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue (UNESCO WHS)

The history of what will became Budapest began with Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement that became, in the beginning of the Christian era, the capital of the Roman province Pannonia Inferior. The Huns, Lombards, Avars and Slavs passed through there, and in 829 Pannonia was annexed by the First Bulgarian Empire, which built two military frontier fortresses, Buda and Pest, situated on the two banks of Danube. At the end of the 9th century, the Magyar clan of Árpád arrived in the territory. Their first settlement was pillaged by the Mongols in 1241-1242.

1534 UNITED KINGDOM (British Indian Ocean Territory) - Little green heron

The biodiversity of the BIOT is very rich, particularly in the marine environment which contains some of the world's healthiest coral reefs, the world's largest coral atoll (the Great Chagos Bank) and an exceptional diversity of deep water habitats. On land, BIOT is recognised as globally important due to the large numbers of congregating and nesting seabirds. The birds of the BIOT fall into three groups: the resident landbirds, the migrants and vagrants, and the seabirds. Only three resident landbirds are believed to have arrived as natural colonists: Common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), White-breasted waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus), and Green-backed Heron (Butorides striata).

April 21, 2015

1532 NAGORNO-KARABAKH - Gandzasar monastery

Laid in 1216 by the prince of Khachen, Hasan Jalal Vahtangian, Gandzasar Monastery stands atop of the mount with the same name, actually a large green hill that rises above the historical town of Vank, in de facto  Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (de jure: Kalbajar Rayon of Azerbaijan). Named so (Gandzasar means in Armenian "treasure mountain") due to ancient copper and silver mines found in the vicinity, it is now the seat of the Archbishop of Artsakh appointed by the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and holds relics believed to belong to St. John the Baptist and his father St Zechariah. It is a walled abbey with both ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical buildings, the centerpiece of which is the Cathedral of St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist), a large church with a cupola in the inscribed cross plan.

April 20, 2015

1531 INDONESIA (Jakarta) - National Monument in Jakarta

First of all, I must thank for this wonderful maxicard to Barbel Plinke, but also all those who signed on it. The maxicard was edited with the ocasion of a meet-up of the Indonesian postcrossers (which held in Jakarta on March 28, 2015), and depicts the National Monument, located in the centre of Merdeka Square, Central Jakarta (watercolor painting by Rihwan Satriyaji). This 132m high tower, topped by a flame covered with gold foil, symbolise the struggle for Indonesian independence. The monument, designed by Frederich Silaban and R.M. Soedarsono, consists of a 117.7m obelisk (clad with Italian marble) on a 45m square platform at a height of 17m, and was build between 1961 and 1975.

April 19, 2015

1530 BELARUS - Belarusian traditional ornaments

Textile is one of the most ancient art forms in Belarus, and the geometric ornaments are so important in this country, that are present on its national flag. It was taken from a hand towel embroidered in 1917 by Matrena Markevich from the village of Kastsilishcha, Senna district. Many of these ornaments are pre-Christian, being used in sacred East Slavic rituals, religious services and ceremonial events such as weddings and funerals, and, although they have undergone some changes over time, they have survived until today. The ritual cloth embroidered with symbols and cryptograms of the ancient world is named Rushnyk. Each region has its own designs and patterns with hidden meaning, passed down from generation to generation.

April 18, 2015

0255, 1529 RUSSIA - Matryoshka

Three Matryoshkas from a series containing 30 pieces
with the pictures illustrating Ruslan and Ludmila

In 2001 was inaugurated, just in the Moscow's center, in the building of Russian Folk Arts Fund, where the first Matryoshka doll was created in the end of the XIX century, the Museum Of Russian Matryoshka, the first official collection of Matryoshka dolls in Russia. Matryoshka dolls are a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size, placed one inside the other, and appeared in Russia at the end of 1890's, in a Moscow craft workshop named Children's Education, the first being carved by Vasily Zvyozdochkin, from a design by Sergey Malyutin. The concept was borrowed from Japan, but was further developed in Russia. Depending of the author's imagination, the themes for the decoration of nesting dolls were ethnographic, historical or fairy tale.

"Autumn Matryoshka Doll with a Cat" - by Lubov Fetisova

Matryoshka, generally recognized at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900, became more and more popular, and in 1910 a crafts workshop named Amateur Artist was set up in Sergiev Posad. It was always interesting and even instructive, because by gathering a collection get enough information about the history of Russian national costume, Russia epos, and even Russian literature. The variety of nesting dolls was achieved by the number of pieces mainly ranging from 3 to 12. There exist "supermatryoshkas" having 48 or 60 pieces but these are unique.