Monday, October 31, 2011

PT RR - Group 60 * Castles/Palaces

Castles and palaces are one of my favorite themes, i had to join this group. There's a lot of portuguese castles and places that i'm still missing in my collection.

Photo: Oswaldo Santos


The Soure castle was one of the missing castles in my collection. The card was sent by José "zepombal".

It is said that the construction of Soure castle began in the 11th century. It was immediately destroyed by the Moors during a battle. One century later, it was donated to Count Fernando Peres de Trava, who rebuilt it. In the 20th century it was given to Soure Town Hall. Despite a rather complicated process regarding the deeds and the ownership of the castle, the castle became property of Soure Town Hall. The dominating architectural styles are: Medieval, Romanic, along with Gothic and Manueline influences. It is a simple castle of small dimensions. Remains of the citadel can still be seen, defined by four towers in the angles, a Suevi-Visigoth door and a Mozarab window. - in: http://en.lifecooler.com/lifecooleren/soure-castle-castles-and-forts-327701-1.html

Photo by N. Kustos
Ninocas also joined this group and sent me this card with the Sintra City Hall building, a fine example of Neo-Manueline architecture. Built between 1906 and 1909 on the site of the demolished Chapel of S. Sebastião, its main features are the wonderful Neo-Manueline windows; a clock tower with battlements; and a panel of ceramic tiles portraying the Cross of Christ and the Portuguese coat of arms - at the top of which, is an armillary sphere. - in: http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Portugal/Distrito_de_Lisboa/Sintra-279605/Things_To_Do-Sintra-City_Hall-BR-1.html


Photo by Maurício Abreu

One of my 1st meeting of this year was in this castle, Palmela castle. The Palmela Castle doesn't reveal any important architectural references, neither has it any legends. However it is mentioned by the Portuguese writer Luís de Camões in his book Os Lusíadas, which emphasises D. Afonso Henriques deed, who with only sixty worriers re conquered the castle.

PT RR - Group 57 * I wish

I used to host this RR but i "quit" and now Miguel is the men in charge. Some of the groups are still from the old RR but he already opened a few new ones. These cards are from one of the old groups, in this case a 3 wishes group. I wished churches, castles/palaces and landscapes.

© Maurício de Abreu

Ninocas sent me this card from Mértola which was one of my favorites.
The town of Mértola is located on a hill by the Guadiana river, in southeastern Portugal next to the Spanish border. Among the vestiges of its past, Mértola boasts the only mediaeval mosque to have survived in Portugal. Church of the Assumption of Mary, originally a mosque was built between the 12th and 13th centuries. After the Christian conquest of the town, in 1238, the mosque was turned into a church, but its architectonic structure was left unaltered. In the 16th century the church was partially remodelled, gaining Manueline vaulting with a new roof and a new main portal in Renaissance style. Nevertheless, the inner arrangement of the naves of the church, with four naves and several columns, strongly resembles that of the original mosque, and the interior of the church still has the mihrab, the decorated niche that indicates the direction of the Mecca. Outside, the church has four portals with horseshoe arches, typical of Islamic architecture. - in: wikipedia


© IBERPONTO, photo by Aníbal Santos

This is a card from Redondo, Joaninha's hometown. On the card there's the Calvary Church built in the 17th century; the Misericórdia Church from the 16th century; St. Peter Chapel which origin is not know but already existed in 1534 and the St. Anthony Convent built between the 17th and 18th centuries.


© Ilustral
In this RR i've only received cards from southern Portugal and this last one is from the southernmost region, Algarve, with the Ria Formosa, a laggon. This lagoon is a system of barrier islands that communicates with the sea through 6 inlets. Five of these inlets are natural and have mobility characteristics.
Ria Formosa plays an important role in the region's economy. Beyond the tourist use the system also supports other economic activities like seafood farms (including grooved carpet shell harvesting) and the port of Faro.

The Ria Formosa is also a designated Natural Park of over 170 km² and a stopping place for hundreds of different birds during the spring and autumn migratory periods. - in: wikipedia

Friday, October 28, 2011

S. Jorge Castle - Lisbon

I've been playing the hangman game on the portuguese community, in the PC forum, and in the last few days i've received cards as a prize for guessing some sentences. This one is from Lisbon, a view from the S. Jorge Castle over the city. It was sent by Ana Bela "tuguinha".


The Castle of São Jorge is a Moorish castle that occupies a commanding position overlooking the city of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, and the broad Tagus River beyond.
The strongly fortified citadel, which, in its present configuration, dates from medieval times, is located atop the highest hill in the historic center of the city. The castle is one of the main historical and touristic sites of Lisbon. - in:
wikipedia

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Elvas - Portugal

I've favorited the last 2 cards of this post on the PC wall and Eurico asked me if i'd like to have them. He sent a total of 4 cards, the 2 favorites and 2 others.

Elvas is an episcopal city and frontier fortress of Portugal, located in the district of Portalegre in Alentejo. It is situated about 230 km east of Lisbon, and about 15 km west of the Spanish fortress of Badajoz.

Elvas houses the largest collection of bastioned fortifications in the world, which are on the Unesco's Tentative List.

The Amoreira Aqueduct was designed by Francisco de Arruda and its construction started in 1537 and ended only in 1620. The aqueduct has an extension of about eight kilometres, with underground galleries, a ground-level canal and arcade canal reaching a maximum height of 31 meters. With the construction of the bastioned walls in the 12th century, the aqueduct became an obstacle to the construction of new fortifications, which alamost led to its demolition. Is one of the most beautiful examples of hydraulic architecture of Portugal, becoming a symbol of Elvas.

The Graça Fort is a 18th century masterpiece of European military architecture. The construction begun in 1763, by order of the King D. José I, to complete the defensive system of Elvas.

And the last card shows a beautiful street and the Elvas pillory.

Monsaraz - Portugal

The 4th card of the Alentejo meeting, the 2nd on this post, was sent by Vitória. The 1st is a RAS card send by Miguel. Both are from Monsaraz, a medieval village in the heart of the Alentejo region. I'd love to visit this place.


In 1157 Monsaraz was conquered from the Moors and in 1167 the locality was donated to the Templars and in 1319 to the Order of Christ.
For centuries, the Monsaraz Castle had a very important role guarding the Guadiana river, and thus the border with Spain.
Monsaraz is surrounded by an astonishing landscape, and from the top of the Castle one can appreciate all its splendour.
All the same, Monsaraz possess valuable and beautiful monuments, based in schist painted in bright white buildings, with houses coming up and down the hill, in a magical environment that seems to have been lost in time. - in:
http://www.getportugal.com/en/poi-monsaraz-14903


On this card there's the Nossa Senhora da Lagoa Church (16th and 17th century), the pillory and the main street.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Montemor-o-Novo - Portugal

Montemor-o-Novo is a portuguese city in the Alentejo region, where some postcrossers had a meeting in the beginning of this month. I couldn't be there but when i can't go to meetings, we receive cards from those meetings. That's what happened this time. I've received not 1, but 4 signed cards. These have been sent by Miguel "leugim", Paula "geminiscp" and Zé "pilotOne". The other postcrossers that signed the cards were Vitória "blicas blocas", Luís "ludovico", Ana "ninocas" and Joana "joaninha".

All the cards show the Montemor-o-Novo castle and the last one also shows the Saudação Convent.


Montemor-o-Novo castle was built on the highest mountain in the region, based probably on the site of an old prehistoric fort, with later Roman and Moorish occupation.
It was conquered to the moors by D. Afonso Henriques and D. Sancho I conceded it the 1st charter in 1203.



The 1755 earthquake caused enough damage to the castle, which would require repairs. Having withstood the assaults during the French invasion, was phased out, speeding up the state of disrepair over the twentieth century.

Today, the castle retains the main boom of the wall, protected by eleven cylindrical towers and the ruins of the castle, or palace of Mayors, a building from the beginning of the thirteenth century.


The Convento de Nossa Senhora da Saudação (Convent of Our Lady of the Salutation) has its origin in a congregation composed by some women led by Joana Dias Quadrada. They came together to practice a life devoted to retreat and devotion, initially without being subject to the rules of any religious order.

The work for the construction of the Convent must have started around 1502.
The convent’s church is an interesting example of Classic Baroque architecture.

The Convent, pertaining to the Dominican Order, was always inhabited by a large number of nuns. During the 18th century it housed 65 sisters. With the extinction of the convents in 1874 and the death of the last prioress, the building was occupied by the State and in 1876 it became an asylum for poverty stricken children called Asilo de Infância Desvalida and there it remained until the 1960s.

In recent years, the Convent has undergone some specific restoration work, such as the partial recovery of its ceiling. This occurred during the second half of the 1990s and was carried out by D.G.E.M.N. It prevented the further deterioration of this valuable and monumental architectural complex. In 1998, the Municipal Council undertook the restoration of the woodwork in the church. At present, the building is occupied by the transdisciplinary centre O Espaço do Tempo and the archeology workshop entitled Oficina de Arqueologia do Programa do Castelo da Câmara Municipal de Montemor-o-Novo. - in: http://www.oespacodotempo.pt/en/esp_tem.php?idpan=convento

US-1361884

Today i've received two official cards, this one from Boston, in the US and another one from Japan.

US-1361884, sent by Melissa.

Old North Church is located 193 Salem Street, in the North End of Boston.
The church is a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. It is the oldest active church building in Boston and is a National Historic Landmark. Inside the church is a bust of George Washington, which the Marquis de Lafayette reportedly remarked was the best likeness of him he had ever seen.

Old North Church was built in 1723, and was inspired by the works of Christopher Wren, the British architect who was responsible for rebuilding London after the Great Fire. - in: wikipedia

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Monument Valley - USA

Can you imagine camping and watch a rainbow over the West Mitten Butte in Monument Valley? This was the view Carol "adobe" had a few days ago when she went tent camping on the Utah-Arizona border. I don't know if she say any rainbow but with or without it, i believe it was really great to have such a view.

Monument Valley is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor. It is located on the northern border of Arizona with southern Utah. The valley lies within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation, and is accessible from U.S. Highway 163.


Monument Valley was created as material eroded from the ancestral Rocky Mountains, and was deposited and cemented into sandstone. The formations you see in the valley were left over after the forces of erosion worked their magic on the sandstone. A geologic uplift caused the surface to bulge and crack. Wind and water then eroded the land, and the cracks deepened and widened into gullies and canyons, which eventually became the scenery you see today.
The valley's vivid red color comes from iron oxide exposed in the weathered siltstone. The darker, blue-gray rocks in the valley get their color from manganese oxide.
Monument Valley is officially a large area which includes much of the area surrounding Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, a Navajo Nation equivalent to a national park. Oljato, for example, is also within the area designated as Monument Valley.


Visitors can pay an access fee and drive through the park on a 17-mile (27 km) dirt road (a 2-3 hour trip). Tours are also available, and the fee varies between about $40 and $100 per person depending on the services provided and route. - in: wikipedia

Trinidad & Cienfuegos - Cuba

Trinidad and Cienfuegos are two cuban cities, which historic centers are classified as Unesco World Heritage Sites. Both of these are have been sent by Lídia.

Trinidad is a town in central Cuba. Together with the nearby Valle de los Ingenios, it has been one of UNESCOs World Heritage sites since 1988.

On the card there's the San Francisco Convent bell tower and the Cantero Palace, located in the Plaza Mayor.

The buildings surrounding this central square date from the 18th and 19th centuries when trade in sugar from the nearby Valle de los Ingenios and slaves, brought great riches to the area. Many of the buildings surrounding the central square belonged to the wealthy landowners of the city. When the trade in sugar diminished and the slave trade ended in the mid-19th century, Trinidad became a backwater and because little building work was carried until the 1950s many of the historic buildings and streets were preserved, especially the grand constructions in the immediate vicinity of the Plaza Mayor. Today, most of the houses surrounding the square are home to museums. - in: wikipedia


The colonial town of Cienfuegos was founded in 1819 in the Spanish territory but was initially settled by immigrants of French origin. It became a trading place for sugar cane, tobacco and coffee. Situated on the Caribbean coast of southern-central Cuba at the heart of the country’s sugar cane, mango, tobacco and coffee production area, the town first developed in the neoclassical style. It later became more eclectic but retained a harmonious overall townscape. Among buildings of particular interest are the Government Palace (City Hall), San Lorenzo School, the Bishopric, the Ferrer Palace, the former lyceum, and some residential houses. Cienfuegos is the first, and an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble representing the new ideas of modernity, hygiene and order in urban planning as developed in Latin America from the 19th century. - in: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1202
On the card there's the Tomas Terry Theatre, built in 1889.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Suriname's Unesco sites

Suriname only has 2 places classified as Unesco World Heritage Sites, the Historic Inner City of Parabarimo, on the list since 2002 and Central Suriname Nature Reserve, classified in 2000.

Thanks to Luca i've these cards from both sites.

Paramaribo is a former Dutch colonial town from the 17th and 18th centuries planted on the northern coast of tropical South America. The original and highly characteristic street plan of the historic centre remains intact. Its buildings illustrate the gradual fusion of Dutch architectural influence with traditional local techniques and materials. - in: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/940


The Central Suriname Nature Reserve comprises 1.6 million ha of primary tropical forest of west-central Suriname. It protects the upper watershed of the Coppename River and the headwaters of the Lucie, Oost, Zuid, Saramaccz, and Gran Rio rivers and covers a range of topography and ecosystems of notable conservation value due to its pristine state. Its montane and lowland forests contain a high diversity of plant life with more than 5,000 vascular plant species collected to date. The Reserve's animals are typical of the region and include the jaguar, giant armadillo, giant river otter, tapir, sloths, eight species of primates and 400 bird species such as harpy eagle, Guiana cock-of-the-rock, and scarlet macaw. - in:
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1017

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Meknes - Morocco

This card of the Historic City of Meknes is another Unesco card in my collection. It shows the Bab Mansour Gate.

Founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids as a military settlement, Meknes became a capital under Sultan Moulay Ismaïl (1672–1727), the founder of the Alawite dynasty. The sultan turned it into a impressive city in Spanish-Moorish style, surrounded by high walls with great doors, where the harmonious blending of the Islamic and European styles of the 17th century Maghreb are still evident today. - in: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/793


Bab Mansour gate was named after the architect, El-Mansour, a Christian renegade who converted to Islam. It was completed 5 years after Moulay Ismail's death, in 1732. The design of the gate plays with Almohad patterns. It has zellij mosaics of excellent quality. The marble columns were taken from the Roman ruins of Volubilis. When the structure was finished completed, Moulay Ismail inspected the gate, asking El-Mansur if he could do better. El-Mansur felt complied to answer yes, making the sultan so furious he had him executed. Still, according to historical records, the gate was finished after Moulay Ismail's death. The gate itself is now used as an arts and crafts gallery; entry is by a side gate. - in: wikipedia

Obock - Djibouti

Obock is a small port town in Djibouti, a country in the Horn of Africa. This is my 1st card from this country.

It was sent by Emerich and it shows a mosque in Obock.

Egyptian cards

More egyptian cards but these were sent by Luis from Spain. The cards show the Isis Temple at the Philae island and Komombo and Abydos temples.

The Egyptian island of Philae was the center for worship of the goddess Isis and attracted pilgrims from all over the ancient world.
The earliest building on the island of Philae was a small temple to Isis built in about 370 BC by Napktnebef Kheperkare (Nectanebo I). This was later expanded into a great Temple of Isis by a number of rulers, most notably Ptolemy II Philadelphius (285-246 BC) and Diocletian (284-305 AD).
With the building of the Aswan Dam, the island was submerged for most of the year and Philae began to lose its charm. When the High Dam project threatened to engulf Philae completely, the temples were saved by a great international rescue operation sponsored by UNESCO, which took place between 1972 and 1980. The island of Philae was surrounded by a coffer dam and drained, while a new site was prepared on the neighboring island of Agilka. The temples were broken up into sections and carefully numbered, then re-erected in the same relative positions on Agilka. - in:
http://www.sacred-destinations.com/egypt/philae


The Temple of Sobek and Haroeris in Kom Ombo (also known simply as Kom Ombo Temple) dates from about 180 BC during the Ptolemaic era, with additions made into Roman times. It stands right on the bank of the Nile between Edfu and Aswan, making it a convenient stop for river cruises.

The Kom Ombo Temple is unusual in that it is a double temple, with one side dedicated to the god Haroesis and the other side to Sobek. The design is almost perfectly symmetrical, with two side-by-side sanctuaries and two parallel passageways leading through the outer parts of the temple. - in: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/egypt/kom-ombo.htm
For the Ancient Egyptians, Abydos was one of the holiest sites in the world. As the cult center of the god Osiris and gateway to the underworld (believed to lie under the nearby hills), it was a popular place of pilgrimage and burial.
Today, Abydos is a large archaeological site in northern Upper Egypt, often visited in conjunction with nearby Dendera. Today the pilgrims are New Age devotees following in the footsteps of Dorothy Eady (d. 1981), who believed herself to be the reincarnation of an Abydos temple priestess.
The main monument at Abydos is the Temple of Seti I, built around 1300 BC by Seti and his son Ramses II. It is especially notable for its fine reliefs, considered among the best of the New Kingdom. - in: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/egypt/abydos

Great Sphinx of Giza

Claus also sent me this Sphinx card, one in my favorites. I already had some temples and the pyramids but i was still missing a Sphinx card and this one is great.

The Great Sphinx is a colossal stone statue located next to the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Carved out of limestone, the Sphinx has the facial features of a man and the body of a recumbent lion; it is approximately 240 feet (73 m) long and 66 feet (20 m) high.


The Sphinx was built in about 2530 BC by the pharaoh Khafre (4th king of Fourth dynasty, c. 2575–c. 2465 BC), the builder and occupant of the second Giza pyramid. The sphinx's face is a portrait of the king and the sphinx continued to be a royal portrait type through most of Egyptian history.
The Sphinx is thought to be primarily a guardian figure, protecting the tomb of the Khafre by warding off evil spirits. Arabs know the Sphinx of Giza by the name of Abu al-Hawl, or "Father of Terror."
The Sphinx's face was mainly damaged during French occupation around 1800, when Mameluke troops used it for target practice for their field cannons, but its body has been weathered by the elements for thousands of years (more on this below).
A number of mysteries surround the Great Sphinx, perhaps even more than the pyramids. First, it is not known why the builders chose such heavy blocks to chip off the Sphinx for the temple or how they moved them to build the temple.
Second, the Sphinx was widely believed to have been an oracle. Between its paws is a 15th-century BC stone tablet recounting a vision given to a prince who slept in the shadow of the Sphinx (and perhaps sought its divine aid) and later became a pharaoh through its intercession. - in:
http://www.sacred-destinations.com/egypt/giza-sphinx

Qal’at al-Bahrain

The Qal'at al-Bahrain is the only Unesco WHS in Bahrain and this card is my 2nd from this country. It was sent by Claus.

The Qal'at al-Bahrain, also known as the Bahrain Fort and previously as the Portugal Fort (Qal'at al Portugal) is an archaeological site located in Bahrain. Archaeological excavations carried out since 1954 have unearthed antiquaries from an artificial mound of 12 m height containing seven stratified layers, created by various occupants from 2300 BC up to the 18th century, including Kassites, Portuguese and Persians. It was once the capital of the Dilmun civilization and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. - in: wikipedia

Qal’at al-Bahrain is a typical tell – an artificial mound created by many successive layers of human occupation. The strata of the 300 × 600 m tell testify to continuous human presence from about 2300 BC to the 16th century AD. About 25% of the site has been excavated, revealing structures of different types: residential, public, commercial, religious and military. They testify to the importance of the site, a trading port, over the centuries. On the top of the 12 m mound there is the impressive Portuguese fort, which gave the whole site its name, qal’a (fort). The site was the capital of the Dilmun, one of the most important ancient civilizations of the region. It contains the richest remains inventoried of this civilization, which was hitherto only known from written Sumerian references. - in: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1192

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Aleppo - Syria

The Unesco cards i bought in Belgium, to use in Unesco trades, were expensive but i'm glad i bought them because i'm getting great cards from some hard to get Unesco places! This one from Syria, was one of the three cards sent by Lilia.

Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate.
Aleppo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world; it has been inhabited since perhaps as early as the 6th millennium BC.
The city's significance in history has been its location at the end of the Silk Road, which passed through central Asia and Mesopotamia.
Aleppo is characterized by mixed architectural styles, having been ruled, among the other, by Romans, Byzantines, Seljuqs, Mamluks and Ottomans.


The Citadel of Aleppo is a large medieval fortified palace in the centre of the old city of Aleppo, northern Syria. It is considered to be one of the oldest and largest castles in the world. Usage of the Citadel hill dates back at least to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. Subsequently occupied by many civilizations including the Greeks, Byzantines, Ayyubids and Mamluks, the majority of the construction as it stands today is thought to originate from the Ayyubid period. - in: wikipedia

Shibam - Yemen

Till a few seconds ago i didn't know where in Yemen was this card from but i've just discovered that the city in the largest image is Shibam, which is a Unesco site :D :D Great!!! The Old Walled City of Shibam is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982.

Shibam owes its fame to its distinct architecture.The houses of Shibam are all made out of mud brick and about 500 of them are tower houses, which rise 5 to 11 stories high, with each floor having one or two rooms. This architectural style was used in order to protect residents from Bedouin attacks. While Shibam has been in existence for an estimated 1,700 years, most of the city's houses originate from the 16th century. Many, though, have been rebuilt numerous times in the last few centuries.

Shibam is often called "the oldest skyscraper city in the world" or "the Manhattan of the desert", and is one of the oldest and best examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction. The city has some of the the tallest mud buildings in the world, with some of them over 30 meters (100 feet) high, thus being early high-rise apartment buildings. In order to protect the buildings from rain and erosion, the walls must be routinely maintained by applying fresh layers of mud. - in: wikipedia

Surprise Japanese Unesco cards

Claus tagged me twice in two different tags. In the 1st envelope he sent a favorite card from Egipt and a new Unesco card from Japan, Yakushima and in the 2nd envelope the only Unesco site from Bahrain and the Todaiji Temple, one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.


Yakushima is a subtropical island off the southern coast of Kyushu and part of Kagoshima Prefecture. It is covered by an extensive cedar forest that contains some of Japan's oldest living trees. Trees more than 1000 years old are affectionately called yakusugi (a combination of Yakushima and sugi, the Japanese word for cedar), the most ancient of which may be over 7000 years old.

The island's cedar forests were logged extensively in the past, particularly during the Edo Period for the production of cedar shingles. Today the forests have well recovered from past logging and are a national park, while some areas were declared a Natural World Heritage Site in 1993. Most tourists come to the island to hike through the forests and see the ancient cedar trees. - in: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4650.html

Tōdai-ji is a Buddhist temple complex located in the city of Nara, Japan. Its the largest wooden building in the world and houses the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. The name Vairocana in Sanskrit means Universal Light, signifying that the infinite mercy of the Buddha is extended equality to all beaings without discrimination. The position of the left hand expresses Vairocana's desire to put an end to all suffering. The right hand extends his welcome to those in the world who suffer.

The image and its pedestal were cast in the Nara Period (8th cent.) but they have been repaired many times over the ages. Very little remais of the original work. The hands, for example, were made in the 16th century, and the head and the wooden screen behind it are from the 17th century.

Polonnaruwa - Sri Lanka

The ancient city of Polonnaruwa which has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1982, is my 2nd Unesco site from Sri Lanka. This card was also sent by Lídia.

Polonnaruwa, in north-central Sri Lanka was the second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms. Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned archeological relic sites in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom's first rulers.

The Gal Vihara is a rock temple of the Buddha situated in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. It was constructed in the 12th century by Parakramabahu I. The central feature of the shrine are four images of the Buddha, which have been carved into the face of a large granite rock. The images consist of a large seated figure, another, smaller seated figure inside an artificial cavern, and standing figure and a reclining figure. These are considered to be some of the best examples of ancient Sinhalese sculpting and carving arts, and have made the Gal Vihara one of the most visited monuments in Polonnaruwa.
At 46 feet 4 inches (14.12 m) in length, the reclining image is the largest statue in Gal Vihara, and also one of the largest sculptures in Southeast Asia. It depicts the parinirvana of the Buddha, who is lying on his right side with the right arm supporting the head on a bolster, while the left arm lies along the body and thigh. The palm of the right hand and the soles of the feet have a single lotus flower carved on them.
The upper foot—the left foot of the image—is slightly withdrawn to indicate that the image depicts that the Buddha has attained parinirvana, and is not merely lying down. Unlike the other images, the reclining image does not have a decorated pedestal, and lies on levelled bare rock. - in: wikipedia

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sopocani Monastery - Serbia

The Sopocani Monastery was the last site i was missing from Serbia :D Like the greek card, this one was also sent by Lilia.

The Sopoćani monastery, an endowment of King Stefan Uroš I of Serbia, was built in the second half of the 13th century, near the source of the Raška River in the region of Ras, the centre of the Serbian medieval state. It is World Heritage Site, added in 1979 with Stari Ras.

The church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity and completed around 1265, with interior decorated shortly thereafter. Archbishop Sava II, who became the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1263, is represented in the procession of archbishops in the area of the altar. The frescoes of Sopoćani are considered by some experts on Serbian medieval art as the most beautiful of that period. On the western wall of the nave is a famous fresco of the Dormition of the Virgin. In the 16th century the monks had to temporarily leave the monastery on several occasions due to the Ottoman threat. Finally, during one of the raids in 1689 the Ottoman Turks set fire to the monastery and carried off the lead from the church roof. The brotherhood escaped with some important relics to Kosovo - but did not return to Sopoćani; it remained deserted for over two hundred years, until the 20th century. The church slowly decayed: its vaults caved in, its dome fell down, and the remains of the surrounding buildings were covered with rubble and earth.

Finally, during the 20th century the monastery was restored and today it is settled by a thriving brotherhood of dedicated monks. The fact that most of the Sopoćani frescoes still shine with radiant beauty - surviving more than two centuries of extreme exposure to the elements - many consider nothing less than a divine miracle.

Sopoćani was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and it is protected by Republic of Serbia. - in: wikipedia

Thessaloniki - Greece

Today i went to the post office to get a registered envelope from Bulgaria with 3 new unesco cards :D With these 3 new cards, now i've cards from 602 different Unesco sites!!! It's getting harder and harder to get more cards which makes every new card very appreciated. Thanks Lilia "childish".

This card is from Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece, located 320 miles north of Athens.


The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki, dating from a time when it was the second largest city of the Byzantine Empire. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Iconoclastic policies in 730. These mosaics, depicting St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration (called the founders) and with children, represent rare examples of art surviving from the Dark Age that followed Justinian's death. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Saloniki from a pagan Slavic raid in 612.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church's crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949. - in: wikipedia

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mtskheta - Georgia

Georgia is a new country in my collection and Mtskheta is a new Unesco site. Due to its historical significance and numerous ancient monuments, the Historical Monuments of Mtskheta became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
Mtskheta is one of the oldest cities in Georgia and is located approximately 20 kilometers north of Tbilisi.


On this card, sent by Lídia, there's the Samtavro Monastery Bell Tower. According to legend, St. Nino actually lived on this site and prayed within the smaller of its two extant churches. This small church dates from the 4th century. The larger church on this site was built in the 11th century and contains the graves of Mirian, the Georgian king who adopted Christianity, and his wife. - in: http://wikitravel.org/en/Mtskheta