July 29, 2017

1935-1939, 2670, 3115 SAINT MARTIN - The map of the island and the flags of Saint Martin (France) and of Sint Maartin (Netherlands)

1935 The map of Saint Martin Island (1)

Posted on 04.10.2015, 30.07.2016, 29.07.2017
Located in the northeast Caribbean, between Anguilla and Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin is the smallest inhabited sea island divided between two nations, respectively between France (60%) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands (40%). The southern Dutch part comprises Sint Maarten and is one of four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the northern French part comprises the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and is an overseas collectivity of France.

1936 The map of Saint Martin Island (2)

The main cities are Philipsburg (Dutch side) and Marigot (French side). The Dutch side is more heavily populated, and the largest settlement on the entire island is Lower Prince's Quarter. The highest hilltop is the Pic Paradis (424m) in the center of a hill chain on the French side, but both sides are hilly with large mountain peaks. This forms a valley where many houses are located. There are no rivers on the island, but many dry guts. It has a tropical monsoon climate with a dry season from January to April and a rainy season from August to December.

1937 The map of Saint Martin Island (3)

Ancient relics date the island's first settlers, probably Ciboney Indians (a subgroup of Arawaks), back to 3,500 years ago. Their lives were turned upside-down with the descent of the Carib Indians, a warrior nation which killed the Arawak men and enslaved the women. In 1493 Christopher Columbus glimpsed the island and named it Isla de San Martín after Saint Martin of Tours because it was November 11, St. Martin Day, but Spain made the settlement of the island a low priority.

2670 The map of Saint Martin Island (4)

Instead, the French and Dutch coveted the island. While the French wanted to colonize the islands between Trinidad and Bermuda, the Dutch found San Martín a convenient halfway point between their colonies in New Amsterdam (present day New York) and Brazil. The Dutch, French and British founded settlements on the island. In 1633 Spanish forces captured Saint Martin from the Dutch, but in 1648 they deserted the island. Preferring to avoid an war, the French and Dutch signed in the same year the Treaty of Concordia, which divided the island in two, as it is now.

3115 The map of Saint Martin Island (5)

With the cultivation of cotton, tobacco, and sugar, mass numbers of slaves were imported to work on the plantations, until the slave population became larger than that of the land owners. After abolition of slavery in the first half of the 19th century, plantation culture declined and the island's economy suffered. In 1939, Saint Martin received a major boost when it was declared a duty-free port. The Dutch began focusing on tourism in the 1950s. The French needed another twenty years to start developing their tourism industry.

1938 Saint Martin - The border monument which celebrates
the peaceful coexistence of the French and Dutch on St. Martin (1)

Currently, tourism provides the backbone of the economy for both sides of the island. St. Martin's Dutch side is known for its festive nightlife, beaches, jewellery, drinks made with native rum-based guavaberry liquors, and casinos. The island's French side is known for its nude beaches, clothes, shopping (including outdoor markets), and French and Indian Caribbean cuisine. Because the island is located along the intertropical convergence zone, it is occasionally threatened by tropical storm activity in the late summer and early fall.

1938 Saint Martin - The border monument which celebrates
the peaceful coexistence of the French and Dutch on St. Martin (2)

The culture of Saint Martin is a blend of its African, French, British, and Dutch heritage. Although each side's culture is influenced by their respective administering countries, they share enough similar heritage and traditions that it can be difficult to tell where Saint-Martin ends and Sint Maarten begins. Nowadays, the number of Creoles has been surpassed by the number of immigrants, and the island's population is truly a melting pot of people from 70 or more different countries.

July 28, 2017

1485, 3114 THAILAND (Bangkok) - The Royal Barge Chanting Ceremony

1485 The Royal Barge Narai Song Suban Ratchakan Thi Kao

Posted on 14.03.2015, 28.07.2017
The Royal Barge Procession is a ceremony of both religious and royal significance which has been taking place for nearly 700 years. It takes place rarely, typically coinciding with only the most significant cultural and religious events. For example, during the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, spanning over 60 years, the Procession has only occurred 16 times. It most likely began during the Ayutthaya period in the 14th century.

3114 The Royal Barge Suphannahong

Western visitors witnessed and wrote about the "immense procession with 200 boats" upon their arrival in Thailand in the 18th century. During the processions, the oarsmen were kept in rhythm by the beating of drums, with accompanying music. This traditional boat song was written by Prince Dhamma Dibes of the late Ayutthaya period. In 1767, Burma invaded Thailand, and captured the capital, Ayuttaya. Amid the destruction, hundreds of the barges were burned. General Taksin rallied the Thais and established the new capital at Thonburi.

2577, 3113 ROMANIA (Braşov) - The Făgăraş Citadel

2577 Aerial view of the Făgăraş Citadel

Posted on 28.06.2016, 28.07.2017
Făgăraş, together with Amlaş, constituted during the Middle Ages a traditional Romanian local-autonomy region in Transylvania, on the Olt River. The castle in Făgăraş, whose construction began in 1310 and continued through successive additions until the middle of the 18th century, was preceded by a wooden fort, surrounded by a moat and wave of land, attested to 12th century. This fort, evidence of local feudal political organization as a voivodat, was destroyed in the middle of the 13th century.

3113 The Făgăraş Citadel

In 15th century the fortress had a quadrilateral enclosure with four towers and bastions at the corners and a barricade type tower outpost on the east side. After the splitting of the Hungarian Feudal Kingdom in 1541, following the defeat of Mohács, Transylvania became an autonomous principality under Ottoman suzerainty. In this framework, the domain and the Făgăraş fortress became the property of hereditary princes of Transylvania.

Michael the Brave, ruler of the Wallachia between 1593 and 1601 and the first unifier of the three Romanian countries (Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania) had the title of "herţeg of Făgăraş". In 1599, following the campaign in Transylvania, he comes into possession of the Făgăraş domain and at the end of the year the city and the domain are given to his wife Doamna Stanca, becoming the place to shelter their assets and family. Michael the Brave gave special attention to Făgăraş due to its strategic location.

July 16, 2017

3112 FRANCE (Saint Barthélemy) / THAILAND - A Thai spot in Gustavia

Located right in the heart of Gustavia, the main town and capital of the island of Saint Barthélemy, the restaurant Black Ginger serves authentic Thai cuisine, concocted by a trio of Thai chef. Its unique interior courtyard opens on the starry sky, matched only by its contemporary design combining a palette of red and black colors, max domes spreading a soft light,and minimalist furniture, including Charles Eames chairs.

3111 MALAYSIA (Johor) - Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque in Johor Bahru

Erected between 1892 and 1900 in Johor Bahru, the capital of the state of Johor, Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque sits on top of a prominent hill, overlooking the Straits of Johor. The architect Tuan Haji Mohamed Arif bin Punak intentionally based much of its appearance on colonial English Victorian architecture as noted by the minarets that take the form of British 19th century clocktowers. The architecture additionally includes some Moorish architecture elements, along with some minor Malay influence.

3106, 3110 HUNGARY - The map and the flag of the country

3106 The map of Hungary

Posted on 05.07.2017, 16.07.2017
Located in Central Europe, in the Carpathian Basin, between Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Ukraine, Hungary covers an area of 93,030 square kilometres and has 10 million inhabitants. Its capital is Budapest, officially created in 1873 by the merger of the neighboring cities of Pest, Buda and Óbuda. Originally a Celtic settlement, then the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia, it was from around 1300 to 1873 the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary for five periods of less than a century each, and after that, until 1918, became the co-capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

3110 The flag of Hungary, with its map and coat of arms
(from the series Flags of the World)

Following centuries of successive habitation by Celts, Romans, Slavs, Gepids and Avars, the foundation of Hungary was laid in the late 9th century by the Hungarian grand prince Árpád in the conquest of the Carpathian Basin. The year 972 marked the date when the ruling prince Géza officially started to integrate Hungary into the Christian Western Europe. His first-born son, Saint Stephen I, became the first King of Hungary, and turned Hungary in a Catholic Apostolic Kingdom.

July 9, 2017

3109 GERMANY (Saxony-Anhalt) - Magdeburg

3109 Magdeburg: 1. Magdeburg Cathedral 2. The town hall
3. Magdeburg Rose 5. The three churches on the banks of the Elbe river

Magdeburg is the capital city and the second largest city of Saxony-Anhalt, and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe. Founded by Charlemagne in 805 on the Elbe River, the town was fortified in 919 by King Henry I the Fowler against the Magyars and Slavs. In 929 the city went to Edward the Elder's daughter Edith, through her marriage to Henry's son Otto I (both of them will be buried here). In 1035 Magdeburg received a patent giving the city the right to hold trade exhibitions and conventions, which form the basis of the later family of city laws known as the Magdeburg rights.

July 8, 2017

3108 CZECH REPUBLIC (Zlin) - Hody in Moravian Slovakia

3108 Stárci with Rights in Kostelan village,
near Uherské Hradiště

Centre of the Great Moravian Empire in the 9th century, the Moravian Slovakia (Slovácko) is in nowaday a cultural region in the southeastern part of the Czech Republic, on the border with Slovakia and Austria, known for its characteristic folklore, music, wine, costumes and traditions. Due to the cultural and linguistic links to Slovakia, many ethnographers consider Moravian Slovaks as a people which politically belong to Czech lands but ethnographically and culturally to the Slovak ethnic group. Its most important center is the town of Uherské Hradiště, founded in 1257 on the Morava River by the Czech king Otakar II.

July 6, 2017

3107 ROMANIA (Bacău) - George Bacovia Memorial House in Bacău

George Bacovia Memorial House is the starting point for any cultural itinerary in Bacău,  a city situated in the historical region of Moldavia, at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, and on the Bistriţa River. George Bacovia (true name - Gheorghe Vasiliu; 17 September 1881 - 22 May 1957) is the most important Romanian symbolist poet, precursor of Romanian Modernism, and one of the most important interwar Romanian poets.

July 3, 2017

0913, 2039, 3105 CZECH REPUBLIC (Zlin) - The traditional clothes in Haná region

0913 Children from Haná in traditional clothes

Posted on 24.12.2013, 15.11.2015, 03.07.2017
In addition to its agricultural productivity, Haná (or Hanakia), an ethnic region in central Moravia, located mainly in the lowlands of the Morava River and the Bečva River, is known for its costumes, traditional customs, and Hanakian dialect, still spoken nowadays. The traditional clothes fully correspond to the character of the region, i.e. are dignified and attractive. The male attire can give the impression of being too opulent and boastful, but it's very beautiful, and has the most varied accessories.
2039 Little girl from Haná in traditional clothes

The Haná costume is distinguished according to individual localities, particularly through the color of the trousers - gate - and the tunic or the shape of the hat. For example, a Haná native in Kroměříž, Holešov and Prostějov would have red leather trousers (bane) tied under the knees with tassels. The calves from the knees to the ankles are clothed in linen leg wraps, or velický. These cover about a third of the boots, which are high, and shiny with a woollen rosette on top at the front. The Haná waistcoat is green, colorfully embroidered around the holes and adorned with bright (often silver) buttons.

3105 Peasants from Haná on wheat harvest
at the end of the 19th century (reconstitution)

There is a leather, nicely embroidered belt, about as wide as a palm, around the body. The most interesting are the belts made in the vicinity of Litovel, which were adorned with fine metal strips hammered into them and often combined with embroidery of very narrow straps of multicolored leather. Typical women’s folk dresses consist of petticoats, mudflaps, embroidered bodices, embroidered lace shirts, collar, main trimmed skirt, folk shoes, wreaths, scarves, and caps.