May 31, 2015

1621 TOGO - Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba (UNESCO WHS)

The Koutammakou landscape is home to the Batammariba (or Tammari people, also known as Somba) whose remarkable mud tower-houses (takienta) have come to be seen as a symbol of Togo. In this landscape, nature is strongly associated with the rituals and beliefs of society. Many of the buildings are two storeys high and those with granaries feature an almost spherical form above a cylindrical base. Some of the buildings have flat roofs, others have conical thatched roofs.

1470, 1620 CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE - Oilpainting postcards


Posted on 27.02.2015, and 31.05.2015
If the first postcard received from Republic of the Congo was a sand painting one, the second and the third one are oilpaintings. Anyway, I can say that in the last years I didn't see any "real" postcard from this country, but merely handmade. And these ones are even signed, as the true paintings.


1619 MEXICO (Quintana Roo) - Aerial view of Cancún

Located on the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, Cancún is an important renowned tourist destination, just north of Mexico's Caribbean coast resort band known as the Riviera Maya. The island of Cancún was originally known to its Maya inhabitants as Nizuc, and the name Cancún first appears on 18th century maps. When development was started in 1970, it had only three residents, caretakers of the coconut plantation of Don José de Jesús Lima Gutiérrez, who lived on Isla Mujeres, and there were only 117 people living in nearby Puerto Juarez, a fishing village and military base.

May 30, 2015

1618 POLAND (Mazovia) - Belweder Palace in Warsaw

Located a few kilometers south of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Belweder Palace is the residence of the President of the Republic of Poland. Built between 1819 and 1822, the present building is the latest of several that stood on the site since 1660. It once belonged to Poland's last king,  Stanisław August Poniatowski, who used it as a porcelain-manufacturing plant. Later was the residence of Russian Grand Duke Constantine, who fled it at the beginning of the November 1830 Uprising. After the re-establishment of Poland's independence following WWI, it was the residence of Marshal Józef Piłsudski Chief of State (1918-1922) and later (1926-1935) Minister of Military Affairs, who died there in 1935.

1617 INDIA (National Capital Territory of Delhi) - Red Fort Complex (UNESCO WHS)

1617 The Red Fort Complex - The Lahore Gate

The Red Fort Complex, now in the centre of Delhi, was built in 1648 as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad - the new capital of the fifth Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan. Named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone, it is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546, with which it forms the Red Fort Complex. The private apartments consist of a row of pavilions connected by a continuous water channel, known as the Nahr-i-Behisht (Stream of Paradise). The Red Fort is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity which, under the Shah Jahan, was brought to a new level of refinement.

May 29, 2015

1616 COOK ISLANDS (Atiu) - Ziona CICC Church

The first organised religion established on Atiu, in 1823, was that of the London Missionary Society. In later years, its name changed to Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) and is the largest religious denomination in this archipelago. Early missionaries and other visitors to Atiu commented on the prominence of Atiu's first church building, erected soon after embracing Christianity, which could be seen from the sea when approaching the island.

May 28, 2015

1615 NAMIBIA - Windhoek

Located in central Namibia, in the Khomas Highland plateau area, Windhoek is the capital and largest city of the Namibia. The town developed at the site of a permanent spring known to the indigenous pastoral communities. It developed rapidly after Jonker Afrikaner, Captain of the Orlam settled here in 1840 and built a stone church for his community. However, in the decades thereafter multiple wars and hostilities led to the neglect and destruction of the new settlement such that Windhoek was founded a second time in 1890 by Imperial German army Major Curt von François. Even in 1971, there were roughly 26,000 whites living in Windhoek (among which at least 9,000 individuals were German speakers), outnumbering the black population of 24,000.

1614 SPAIN (Canary Islands) - Traditional costume of Tenerife

Even if each Canary island has its own traditional costume, there is enough common characteristics. In other words, beyond the particularities of each, the items of the costume are the same, and the predominant colour is the deep scarlet, which complements the olive skin of Tinerfeños beautifully. White leggings (el calzónes) slightly reminiscent of underwear and white voluminous petticoats (el zagaljo) worn to the ankles. For the girls, a jerkin or waistcoat made of wool or brocade and embroidery on the back with flower motifs is worn over the top of a blouse (la camisa) which is usually white and could be short sleeved, similar to gipsy style and trimmed with red ribbons on neck and sleeves or long sleeved.

May 26, 2015

1610 PAPUA NEW GUINEA (Milne Bay) - A man from Trobriand Islands

The Trobriand Islands are an archipelago of coral atolls off the eastern coast of New Guinea. Most of the population of 12,000 indigenous inhabitants live on the main island of Kiriwina. Other major islands in the group are Kaileuna, Vakuta and Kitava. The people of the area are mostly subsistence horticulturalists who live in traditional settlements. The social structure is based on matrilineal clans. People participate in the regional circuit of exchange of shells called kula, sailing to visit trade partners on seagoing canoes. When inter-group warfare was forbidden by colonial rulers, the islanders developed a unique, aggressive form of cricket.

1609 UNITED STATES (California) - Hotel del Coronado

Coronado ("the crowned one" in Spanish) is an affluent resort city located in San Diego County, across (and helping to form) San Diego Bay from downtown San Diego. It lies on geographic combination of an island and a tombolo connected to the mainland called the Silver Strand. Founded in 1885, the town was from the very beginning a resort community, and since 1888 is the home to the famous Hotel del Coronado, long considered one of the world's top resorts. The hotel, designed and  is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre: the wooden Victorian beach resort. It is also the second largest wooden structure in the United States (after the Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, Oregon).

May 25, 2015

1608 SWEDEN (Stockholm) - Birka and Hovgården (UNESCO WHS)

Gaming pieces from the grave 523 in Birka, 10th century

During the Viking Age, Birka, on the island of Björkö (literally: "Birch Island"), was an important trading center between Ladoga (Aldeigja) and Novgorod (Holmsgard) to the Byzantine Empire and the Abbasid Califate. Björkö is located in Lake Mälaren, 30km west of Stockholm. The archaeological sites of Birka and  Hovgården, on the neighbouring island of Adelsö, make up an archaeological complex which illustrates the elaborate trading networks of Viking Scandinavia and their influence on the subsequent history of Europe.

May 24, 2015

1606 TONGA - A Philatelic Souvenir Postcard from the Friendly Islands

Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian sovereign state and archipelago comprising 177 islands with a total surface area of about 750 square kilometres scattered over 700,000 square kilometres of the southern Pacific Ocean, of which 52 islands are inhabited by its 103,000 people. Seventy percent of Tongans reside on the main island of Tongatapu. It is surrounded by Fiji and Wallis and Futuna (France) to the northwest, Samoa to the northeast, Niue to the east, Kermadec (part of New Zealand) to the southwest, and New Caledonia (France) and Vanuatu to the farther west. Tonga became known as the Friendly Islands because of the congenial reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit in 1773

1602 DENMARK (Greenland) - Queen Margrethe II

Greenland - 70th birthday of the Queen Margrethe II,
dressed in Greenlandic national costume

Greenland became a  Danish colony in 1814, and a part of the Danish Realm in 1953, as an autonomous country. Since 2008, Greenland enjoy broad autonomy, but still is part of the  Kingdom of Denmark, and Queen Margrethe II is the head of state. Margrethe II, full name: Margrethe Alexandrine Þórhildur Ingrid; born 16 April 1940) is the eldest child of King Frederik IX and Ingrid of Sweden, and succeeded her father on 14 January 1972. On her accession, she became the first female monarch of Denmark Margrete I, ruler of the Scandinavian countries in 1375–1412 during the Kalmar Union. In 1967, she married Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, with whom she has two sons: Crown Prince Frederik (born 1968) and Prince Joachim (born 1969). The Queen and her siblings belong to the House of Glücksburg, which is a branch of the Royal House of Oldenburg.

1604 UNITED STATES (Colorado) - United States Air Force Academy

1604 Colorado Springs - United States Air Force Academy,
Cadet Chapel and Cadet Honor Court
with B-17 Flying Fortress and P-40 Warhawk memorials

The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), located immediately north of  Colorado Springs, is the youngest of the five United States service academies, having graduated its first class in 1959. Graduates of the Academy's four-year program receive a Bachelor of Science degree, and are commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States Air Force. Recent incoming classes have had about 1,200 cadets; historically just under 1,000 of those will graduate. The buildings in the Cadet Area were designed in a distinct, modernist style, and make extensive use of aluminum on building exteriors, suggesting the outer skin of aircraft or spacecraft.

May 23, 2015

1334, 1335, 1603 GERMANY (Berlin) - The Berlin Wall

1334 Berlin - Conrad Shumann overcoming,
on 08.15.1961, the barbed wire at the Bernauer Strasse

Posted on 15.11.2014, 23.05.2015
The Berlin Wall (German: Berliner Mauer) was undoubtedly the most powerful symbol of the Iron Curtain, that separated the Western Bloc (the United States and its NATO allies) and the powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact) during the Cold War. It was constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, and completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin until it was opened in 1989. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a socialist state in East Germany, but in practice it served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-WWII period. Before the Wall's erection, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions and defected from the GDR, but between 1961 and 1989, the wall prevented almost all such emigration. During this period, around 5,000 people attempted to escape over the wall, with an estimated death toll of from 136 to more than 200 in and around Berlin.

1335 The fall of the Berlin Wall, 9 November 1989

In the first postcard is an East German soldier, named Conrad Schumann, leaping over barbed wire into West Berlin. Born in Saxony in 1942, Schumann enlisted in the East German police following his 18th birthday. After a training in Dresden, he was posted to a non-commissioned officers' college in Potsdam, after which he volunteered for service in Berlin. On 15 August 1961, he was sent to the corner of Ruppiner Strasse and Bernauer Strasse to guard the Berlin Wall on its third day of construction. From the other side, West Germans shouted to him, "Komm' rüber!" (Come over!), and a police car pulled up to wait for him. Schumann jumped over the barbed wire fence and was promptly driven away by the West Berlin police. The photo made by Peter Leibing has since become an iconic image of the Cold War era, and was inducted into the UNESCO Memory of the World programme. Schumann settled in Bavaria, where it was married, but his life has never been normal. On 20 June 1998, suffering from depression, he committed suicide by hanging himself.

Berlin - East Side Gallery
(the postcard contains a capsule with a fragment of the Berlin Wall)

The Revolutions of 1989, part of the revolutionary wave that resulted in the Fall of Communism in the states of Central and Eastern Europe, have led to radical political changes in the Eastern Bloc. After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere (in the second postcard). Over the next few weeks, euphoric public and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the wall; the governments later used industrial equipment to remove most of what was left. Contrary to popular belief, the wall's demolition didn't begin until Summer 1990 and was not completed until 1992. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, which was formally concluded on 3 October 1990.

May 22, 2015

1601 BELGIUM (Antwerp) - Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp - part of Belfries of Belgium and France (UNESCO WHS)

Antwerp, the most populous city in Belgium, is located on the river Scheldt, linked to the North Sea by the Westerschelde estuary. It has long been an important city in the Low Countries, both economically and culturally, especially before the Spanish Fury (1576) in the Dutch Revolt. The Cathedral of Our Lady was started in 1352 and, although the first stage of construction was ended in 1521, has never been completed. In Gothic style, its architects were Jan and Pieter Appelmans. Its interior is an impressive sight, with sweeping Gothic lines and soaring vaults, all in gleaming white. The furnishings are a mix of Baroque and Neoclasssical styles. It contains also a number of significant works by the Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens, as well as paintings by artists such as Otto van Veen, Jacob de Backer and Marten de Vos.

1600 BURUNDI - Rusizi River

The Rusizi (also sometimes spelled Ruzizi) is a river, 117km long, that flows from Lake Kivu to Lake Tanganyika in Central Africa, descending from about 1,500m to about 770m above sea level over its length. The steepest gradients occur over the first 40km, and further downstream, the Ruzizi Plain, the floor of the  Western Rift Valley, has only gentle hills, and the river flows into Lake Tanganyika through a delta. It is a young river, formed about 10,000 years ago when volcanism associated with continental rifting created the  Virunga Mountains. The mountains blocked Lake Kivu's former outlet to the watershed of the Nile and instead forced the lake overflow south down the Rusizi and the watershed of the Congo.

May 21, 2015

1599 UNITED STATES (Nevada) - Wild mustangs

I noted with surprise that quite a few people know that the Mustangs live in North America only by 500 years and come from domesticated horses. It's true that the wild horse (Equus ferus) existed in North America in prehistoric times, but it died out at the end of the last ice age around 10-12 thousand years ago. Thus at the beginning of the Columbian Exchange, there were no equids in the Americas at all. Horses first returned with the conquistadors, more accurate with the arrival of Cortés in 1519. The first mustangs descended from Iberian horses brought to Mexico and Florida. Some of these horses were sold, escaped or were captured by Native Americans, and rapidly spread by trade and other means throughout western North America.

1598 UNITED STATES (Hawaii) - Nanue Falls in Hāmākua

Hāmākua is a district on the northeast coast of Hawaiʻi's Big Island (one of the six traditional districts of the island, known as moku), but also the name of the coastline in the region, the "Hāmākua Coast", approximately 80km long, ending at Waipiʻo Valley and the uninhabited Waimanu Valley. The rainfall due to the prevailing northeasterly tropical trade winds produces steep erosional valleys and cliffs, showing evidence of frequent landslides. The lush vegetation and lack of sandy beaches contrasts sharply with other regions of the island. The district stretches south through the central plateau to the summit of Mauna Loa. To the north beyond Waipiʻo Valley is the Kohala district, with the older volcano Kohala mountain.

May 20, 2015

1596 MEXICO (Veracruz) - Ritual ceremony of the Voladores (UNESCO ICH)

Founded in the 13th century by the Totonacs, in the Sierra Papanteca range and on the Gulf of Mexico, Papantla is the heart of the Totonacapan region and still has strong communities of Totonacs who maintain the culture and language. This is the home of vanilla, which is native to this region, the El Tajín archeological site, and the Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers). Named also Palo Volador (Pole Flying), the Danza de los Voladores is an ancient Mesoamerican ceremony / ritual still performed today, albeit in modified form, in isolated pockets in Mexico. It is believed to have originated with the Nahua, Huastec and Otomi peoples in central Mexico, and then spread throughout most of Mesoamerica.

May 19, 2015

1595 ROMANIA (Bucharest) - Palace of the Parliament

Located in the historical and geographical center of Bucharest, on the Arsenal Hill, the Palace of the Parliament is the world's largest civilian building with an administrative function, the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon, and also the most expensive administrative building, and the heaviest building. For comparison, it can be mentioned that the building exceeds with 2% the volume of the Cheops pyramid. Since 1996, the building houses the Romania's Chamber of Deputies, the Romanian Legislative Council and the Romanian Competition Council. The Romanian Senate joined them there in 2005. In 2004 was opened inside the west wing the National Museum of Contemporary Art, and also the Museum and Park of Totalitarianism and Socialist Realism. The Palace also contains a massive array of conference halls, salons, etc. but even so, around 70% of the building remains empty.

1594 TURKEY (Central Anatolia) - Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia (UNESCO WHS)

Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia
Fairy chimneys in Devrent valley

Located on the central Anatolia plateau, in Cappadocia, within a volcanic landscape sculpted by erosion to form a succession of mountain ridges, valleys and pinnacles known as "fairy chimneys" or hoodoos, Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia cover the region between the cities of Nevşehir, Ürgüp and Avanos, the sites of Karain, Karlık, Yeşilöz, Soğanlı and the subterranean cities of Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu.