May 27, 2017

1348-1351, 2681, 2682, 3070 ROMANIA (Timiş) - Timişoara

1348 TIMIŞOARA: 1. House with Lions (Union Square) 2. Orthodox
Metropolitan Cathedral (Victoria Square) 3. Lloyd Palace
(Victory Square) 4. Dauerbach Palace (Victory Square) 
5. Union Square (Serbian Orthodox Episcopal
Palace, Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, Orthodox
Community House, Plague Column)

Posted on 02.12.2014, 14.08.2016, 27.05.2017
Located in the Pannonian Plain, near the divergence of the Timiş and Bega rivers, Timişoara, the unofficial capital city of the historical region of Banat, is the third most populous city in Romania (319,279 inhabitants). Banat was annexed by the Kingdom of Hungary in 1030, and the city was first mentioned, as Castrum Temesiense, in either 1212 or 1266. Its importance grew due to its strategic location, so that it reached at the forefront of Western Christendom's battle against the Muslim Ottoman Turks.

1349 TIMIŞOARA: 1. Lloyd Palace (Victory Square) 2. Baroque Palace
(Union Square) 3. Palace Merbl & Palace Neuhausz (Victory Square)
4. Plague Column (Union Square) 5. Union Square (Serbian Orthodox
Episcopal Palace, Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, Orthodox
Community House, Plague Column) 6. The Hunyadi Castle
(armor on the entrance) 7. Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral
(Victoria Square) 8. Union Square 9. Dauerbach Palace (Victory Square)

The French and Hungarian crusaders met here before engaging in the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396, and later John Hunyadi used it as a military stronghold. Repeatedly sieged by the Ottomans, was conquered in 1552, and remained under Ottoman rule for nearly 160 years, but enjoyed a special status, similar to Budapest and Belgrade. In 1716 the city came under Austrian rule (since 1781 as a free royal city). Since 1860, Banat was administrated by Hungary (within the Austro-Hungarian Empire), and it remained so until the early 20th century.

2681 TIMIŞOARA: 1. Orthodox Metropolitan
Cathedral (Victoria Square) 2. Roman-Catholic
Dome (Union Square) 5. Romanian Orthodox
Church in Iosefin 6. Statue of Saint Nepomuk
in Liberty Square
 

Reached an economic and industrial center, it was the first European city and the second in the world which used electric street lamps (1884), and also the second European city with horse-drawn trams (1869). After the WWI, Banat was divided between the Kingdom of Romania and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Timişoara coming under Romanian administration. On December 16, 1989 in this city has started the revolution that would lead to the removal of the communist regime in Romania.

1350 Reproduction of an old photo with Union Square at 1900
(Roman-Catholic Dome, Swabian Bank, Prenner House, Baroque Palace)

In terms of architecture, the city inherits a vast heritage of historical monuments, result of a long tradition of modern urban planning, that started in the 18th century, with the arrival of the Austrians. The center, located in the old Citadel, was remodeled, with squares and straight streets. The buildings were well aligned and the buildings situated at street corners had to have extra architectural elements. Predominantly was influential Viennese Baroque style, which brought to Timişoara the nickname Little Vienna.

3070 Reproduction of an old photo with German Dome and
part from Holy Trinity Statue located on Union Square in Timişoara

In 1904, the city has established the post of chief architect and attributed it to Laszlo Szekely, who made a decisive contribution to the reshaping of the central area and the introduction of the styles Art Nouveau, Secession and Eclectic in urban landscape of the city. The last architectural current that influenced the city was the Romanian one,  introduced with the passage of Timişoara under Romanian administration. A particular charm is given by the parks and green spaces that stretch along the Bega canal and in all parts of the city.

1351 TIMIŞOARA: Piarist High School, west facade
 

The oldest square is the Union Square (formerly Hauptplatz / Main Square), decorated in Baroque style. The Serbian Orthodox Episcopal Palace was built between 1745 and 1747 in Baroque style, but it has the current form since 1905-1906, when was modified by Laszlo Szekely. The facade, defined by Serbian decorative elements, dates from 1911. The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral was erected between 1744 and 1748, but the towers were added in 1791. The current Orthodox Community House was built in 1828. These three buildings forms the so-called Rascian Square on the western part of the square.

2682 TIMIŞOARA: Opera House in Victory Square before 1989
(back then State Theater in Opera Square)

The House with Lions (on the north side), originally in Baroque style, had on the corner, from the beginning, the oriel window with round contour. It was rebuilt after 1900 in secession style, at that time being added the lions, which give it the name. On the west side is the Roman-Catholic Dome (dedicated to St. George), built between 1736 and 1774 by architect Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, prominent representative of Viennese Baroque. It has the shape of a cross, with a single central nave, and the columns arranged on both sides of the nave supports the semi-cylindrical roof.

3069 LAOS (Vientiane Capital) - Statue of King Setthathirath in Vientiane


Setthathirath (1534-1571) or Xaysettha is considered one of the great leaders in Lao history. Throughout the 1560s until his death, he successfully defended his kingdom of Lan Xang against military campaigns of Burmese conqueror Bayinnaung, who had already subdued Chiang Mai in 1558 and Ayutthaya in 1564. Setthathirath was also a prolific builder and erected many Buddhist monuments including Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang and the That Luang in Viangchan.

May 26, 2017

3068 INDIA (Tamil Nadu) - Nilgiri Mountain Railway - part of Mountain Railways of India (UNESCO WHS)


The development of railways in the 19th century had a profound influence on social and economic developments in many parts of the world. The Mountain Railways of India are examples of hill railways which exhibit an important cultural and technologicaly transfer in the colonial setting of the period of its construction. Opened between 1881 and 1908, and still fully operational, they applied bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty.

3067 BELARUS (Grodno) - Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral in Grodno


Probably the most spectacular landmark of Grodno, the Roman-Catholic Cathedral of Saint Francis Xavier, originally a Jesuit church, was consecrated in 1705, in the presence of Tsar Peter I and King August II. Its construction was started in 1678, but due to wars that rocked Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at that time lasted 27 years. Its late Baroque frescoes were executed in 1752. The monastery was dissolved in 1773 and the church became a parish one.

May 25, 2017

3066 SLOVENIA (Styria) - Kurentovanje


Kurentovanje is one of Slovenia's most popular and ethnologically significant carnival events. This 10-day rite of spring and fertility is celebrated on Shrove Sunday in Ptuj, the oldest documented city in the region, and draws around 10,000 participants each year. In 2010, the 50th anniversary of the first organized instance of this festival was celebrated. This event owes much to the cultural historian Drago Hasl (1900-1976), who was convinced that it could help prevent the disappearance of traditional customs in surrounding villages.

3065 DENMARK (Nordjylland) - Jens Bang's House in Aalborg


Jens Bang's House, on Østerågade in Nytorv square, near the old town hall of Aalborg, is one of Denmark's best examples of 17th-century domestic architecture. Built in 1624 by the Aalborg merchant Jens Bang in the Dutch Renaissance style, the four-story sandstone building is noted for its rising gables and sculpted auricular window decorations. For over 300 years, it has housed the city's oldest pharmacy. The Svaneapotek (Swan Pharmacy) collection is now housed in one of the upper rooms, as a small pharmacy museum known as Apotekersamlingen.

May 24, 2017

2338, 2532, 2751, 3064 LAOS (Luang Prabang) - Town of Luang Prabang (UNESCO WHS)

2751 That Pathoun in Luang Prabang

Posted on 29.02.2016, 08.05.2016, 14.09.2016, 24.05.2017
Luang Prabang (literally: "Royal Buddha Image") is located in northern Laos, at the confluence of the rivers Nam Khan and Mekong. Actually, the main part of the city consists of four main roads on a peninsula between the two rivers. Mountain ranges (in particular the PhouThao and PhouNang mountains) encircle the city in lush greenery. It was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name, and also the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos, until the communist takeover in 1975.

2532 Wat Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang

The city is an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its unique, well-preserved townscape illustrates a key stage in the blending of these two cultural traditions. The richness of its architecture reflects the mix of styles and materials. The majority of the buildings are wooden structures. Only the temples are in stone, whereas one- or two-storey brick houses characterize the colonial element.

2338 Royal Palace in Luang Prabang - The King's office
during Sisavang Vong's reign (1905-1959, Reception Hall
during Sisavang Vatthana's reign (1960-1975),
a hall of National Museum since 1995.

That Pathoun (Stupa of the Great Lotus), also known as That Mak Mo (Watermelon Stupa) due to its similarities to the fruit, lies within the walls of Wat Visounnarath, the oldest temple in Luang Prabang, erected in 1513 and rebuilt in 1898. Built between 1559 and 1560 by the Lao King Setthathirath, Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most important of Lao monasteries and remains a significant monument to the spirit of religion, royalty and traditional art.

3064 Wat Aham in Luang Prabang

There are over twenty structures on the grounds including a sim, shrines, pavilions and residences, in addition to its gardens. The building of the wat have carved gilded wooden doors depicting scenes from Buddha's life. In the sim the ceiling displays Dharmachakras - dharma wheels symbolising Buddhist law and the circle of reincarnation. The outer walls of the sim depict Lao legends and the rear gable is decorated with a glass mosaic depicting the tree of life. The outer walls of the Sanctuary of the Reclining Buddha, also known as Red Chapel, are decorated with mosaics.

1041, 2867, 3063 RUSSIA - Russian traditional clothes

1041 A Russian family in traditional clothes

Posted on 02.04.2014, 14.11.2016, 24.05.2017
The area now called Russia has always been multicultural. Russian culture started from that of the East Slavs, with their pagan beliefs and specific way of life in the wooded areas of Eastern Europe. It was influenced first by neighbouring Finno-Ugric tribes and by nomadic, mainly Turkic, peoples of the Pontic steppe, then by the Varangians. Kievan Rus' had accepted Orthodox Christianity in 988, and this largely defined the Russian culture of next millennium as the synthesis of Slavic and Byzantine cultures.

2867 A Russian girl wearing clothes
inspired by the traditional costume (1)

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Russia remained the largest Orthodox nation in the world and claimed succession to the Byzantine legacy in the form of the Third Rome idea. A process of the melding of pre-Christian practices with those of Orthodoxy consolidated the population which occupied present-day Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus under one political and cultural system. Even today, the Russian language retains a large degree of mutual intelligibility with Belarusian and Ukrainian.

3063 A Russian girl wearing clothes
inspired by the traditional costume (2)

The traditional Russian costume started taking its shape in the 12th-13th centuries. Up to the 18th century it fitted well all layers of Russian society. The costume that was common among peasants from the last third of the 18th century to the first quarter of the 20th century is what is considered to be the authentic Russian national costume. By the early 20th century the most widespread women's costumes were of two types: the South Russian one with poneva, and the Mid-Russian one with a sarafan.

3062 ROMANIA (Suceava) - Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary Basilica from Cacica


At the 2011 census, the Cacica commune (located in south Bukovina) had 74.8% of inhabitants  Romanians, 20.2% Poles and 4.4% Ukrainians. Its Polish inhabitants are descended from settlers who were brought there from Galicia at the turn of the 19th century, to work to the salt mine, opened in 1791. Historically part of Moldavia, the territory of what became known as Bukovina was, from 1774 to 1918, an administrative division of the the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire, and Austria-Hungary.

May 22, 2017

3061 INDIA (Himachal Pradesh) - Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (UNESCO WHS)

3061 Sar Pass Top as seen from Sar Pass

Great Himalayan National Park lies within the ecologically distinct Western Himalayas at the junction between two of the world’s major biogeographic realms, the Palearctic and Indomalayan Realms. It displays distinct broadleaf and conifer forest types forming mosaics of habitat across steep valley side landscapes, a compact, natural and biodiverse protected area system that includes 25 forest types and an associated rich assemblage of fauna species.

May 21, 2017

3060 GERMANY (Lower Saxony) - New Town Hall in Hanover


The New Town Hall (German: Neues Rathaus) in Hanover is a magnificent, castle-like building of the era of Wilhelm II in eclectic style. It was opened in 1913, after having been under construction for 12 years. During WWII, the building was heavily damaged by the American bomb raids. Its dome, with its observation platform, is 97.73 m high. The dome's lift (erected in 1913) is unique in Europe, with its arched course (parabolic, following the shape of the dome).

3053, 3059 TANZANIA - Ngorongoro Conservation Area (UNESCO WHS)

3059 Ngorongoro - Buffalos chasing lions

Posted on 15.05.2017, 21.05.2017
Located 180km west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater,  the world's largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera, and Olduvai Gorge, a 14km long deep ravine. It spans vast expanses of highland plains, savanna, savanna woodlands and forests, from the plains of the Serengeti National Park in the north-west, to the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley.

3053 Ngorongoro - Zebra in Lerai Forest

The area was established in 1959 as a multiple land use area, with wildlife coexisting with semi-nomadic Maasai pastoralists practising traditional livestock grazing (About Maasai I wrote separately, here). The area has been subject to extensive archaeological research for over 80 years and has yielded a long sequence of evidence of human evolution and human-environment dynamics, collectively extending over a span of almost four million years to the early modern era.

May 20, 2017

3058 ROMANIA - The Romani people in Romania

3058 Romani man from Transylvania
at the end of the 19th century
(then Transylvania was part of
Austro-Hungarian Empire)

The Romani, or Roma, are a traditionally nomadic ethnic group, living mostly in Europe (mainly in the Balkans, in some Central European states, in Spain, France, Russia and Ukraine) and the Americas and originating from the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent, apparently from the region that is currently occupied by the Indian states of Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab. They are widely known among English-speaking people by the exonym Gypsies, considered pejorative.