Monday, February 22, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
In 2008, Band-e Amir was finally declared Afghanistan's first national park.
Band-e Amir is situated at approximately 75 kilometers to the north-west of the ancient city of Bamyan, close to the town of Yakawlang. Together with Bamiyan, they are the heart of Afghanistan's tourism, attracting thousands of tourists every year and from every corner of the world.
Today, the palace is an open museum of sorts, and a very popular place to visit, not only for tourists but also for local Yemeni families. Different rooms have descriptive labels in English and Arabic. Nearby is the village of Qaryat al- Qabil, with its walled pathways, orchards and vineyards. Here on Fridays from 09.00 – 12.00 Yemenis gather for wedding celebrations.
Friday, February 19, 2010
This is a card from southern Iraq with a floating island of the Marsh Arabs.
Madan means "dweller in the plains (ʻadan)" and was used disparagingly by desert tribes to refer to those inhabiting the Iraqi river basins, and by those who farmed in the river basins to refer to the population of the marshes. There was a considerable historic prejudice against the Maʻdān, partly as they were considered to have Persian or other "mixed" origin and partly due to their practice of temporary marriage.
Most Marsh Arabs lived in arched reed houses considerably smaller than a mudhif. The typical dwelling was usually a little more than 2 meters wide, about 6 meters long, and a little less than three meters high, and was either constructed at the waterside or on an artificial islands of reeds called a kibasha; a more permanent island of layered reeds and mud was called a dibin. Houses had entrances at both ends and a screen in the middle; one end was used as a dwelling and the other end (sometimes extended with a sitra, a long reed structure) was used to shelter animals in bad weather. A raba was a higher-status dwelling, distinguished by a north-facing entrance, which also served as a guesthouse where there was no mudhif. Traditional boats (the mashoof and tarada) were used as transport: the Maˤdān would drive buffaloes through the reedbeds during the season of low water to create channels, which would then be kept open by constant use, for the boats." - in: wikipedia
The ancient town is characterized by a double line of medieval walls and by the massive Castle, one of the best preserved in Italy. It is famous as being the location of the episode of Paolo and Francesca described by Dante Alighieri in the V Canto of his Inferno.
The construction of the castle was begun in the 12th century by Pietro and Ridolfo del Grifo. Later, Malatesta da Verucchio captured the Grifo tower, which became the mastio of the current castle, which was to be finished in the 15th century.
After the Malatesta seignory, the town was conquered by the Sforza in the September 1289. Here, in 1494, arrived Lucrezia Borgia, wife of Giovanni Sforza. After a short domination of Lucrezia's brother, Cesare, Gradara was handed over to the della Rovere. After the end of the latter's dynasty, the city was administrated directly by the Popes." - in: wikipedia
The basilica is a Late Gothic structure continued by Giuliano da Maiano, Giuliano da Sangallo and Bramante. The handsome façade of the church was erected under Sixtus V, who fortified Loreto and gave it the privileges of a town (1586); his colossal statue stands in the middle of the flight of steps in front. Over the principal doorway is a life-size bronze statue of the Virgin and Child by Girolamo Lombardo; the three superb bronze doors executed at the latter end of the 16th century and under Paul V (1605-1621) are also by Lombardo, his sons and his pupils, among them Tiburzio Vergelli, who also made the fine bronze font in the interior. The doors and hanging lamps of the Santa Casa are by the same artists.
The richly decorated campanile (1750 to 1754), is of great height; the principal bell, presented by Leo X in 1516 , weighs 11 tons. The interior of the church has mosaics by Domenichino and Guido Reni and other works of art, including statues by Raffaello da Montelupo. In the sacristies on each side of the right transept are frescoes, on the right by Melozzo da Forli, on the left by Luca Signorelli. In both are fine intarsias. The basilica as a whole is thus a collaborative masterpiece by generations of architects and artists." - in: wikipedia
Thursday, February 18, 2010
A small tribe inhabited the oasis, the ruins of their settlement are scattered between the palms at the north-western shore of the lake. It is said that one of their sources of subsistence were the worm-like crustaceans they fished from the salty lake. They were moved in the 1980s to a new location outside the sand dunes, in the Wadi Bashir, south of the erg, a settlement of concrete apartments built specifically for the resettlement of this tribe." - in: wikipedia
The earliest mention of the castle can be found in the deed of the Count Rudolf von Werdenberg-Sargans for a sale to Ulrich von Matsch. The then owners - presumably also the builders - were the Counts of Werdenberg-Sargans. The Bergfried (12th century) and parts of the east-side are the oldest. The tower stands upon a piece of ground of about 12 x 13 m and has a wall density on the ground floor of up to 4 metres. The original entrance lay at the Hofzijde at an 11 metre height. The chapel St. Anna was presumably built in the Middle Ages as well. The main altar is late-gothic. In the Schwaben War of 1499, the castle was burned by the honorbound of Switzerland. The west-side was expanded on by Count Kaspar van Hohenems (1613-1640).
The Liechtenstein family acquired Vaduz Castle in 1712 when it purchased the countship of Vaduz. At this time, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, combined the countship with the Lordship of Schellenberg, purchased by the Liechtensteins in 1699, to form the Principality of Liechtenstein.
The castle underwent a major restoration between 1905 and 1920 during the reign of Prince Johann II, and was expanded during the early 1930's by Prince Franz Joseph II. Since 1938, the castle has been the primary residence of Liechtenstein's Royal Family. It is not open to tourists." - in: wikipedia
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The participants at the meeting were:
Monday, February 15, 2010
Luang Prabang is a city located in north central Laos, on the Mekong River about 425 km north of Vientiane.
"Luang Prabang 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, remarkably well-preserved townscape illustrates a key stage in the blending of these two distinct cultural traditions." - in: www.whc.unesco.org/en/lis/479
Friday, February 12, 2010
"The Wachau is an Austrian valley with a landscape of high visibility formed by the Danube river. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations of Lower Austria, located midway between the towns of Melk and Krems. It is 30 km in length and was already settled in prehistoric times. A well-known place and tourist attraction is Dürnstein, where King Richard the Lion-Heart of England was held captive by Duke Leopold V." - in: wikipedia