Monday, June 27, 2016

Najaf - Iraq

In the world of postcards, a written & stamped card from Iraq is something very rare. I got this one thanks to Mohammed and thanks to Agata too, who let me know about Mohammed's offer on FB. 

The card shows Iman Ali Tomb, sheltered in Iman Ali Mosque in Najaf. Najaf is a city in central Iraq about 160 km (roughly 100 miles) south of Baghdad. It is widely considered the third holiest city of Shi'a Islam, the Shia world’s spiritual capital and the center of Shi'a political power in Iraq. - in: wikipedia

The gold-plated mosque shelters the tomb of Imam Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad who is revered as a martyr and a saint by Shi'ites. Najaf has been an important place of pilgrimage for Shi'ites since Ali's death in 661 AD.
In the course of the conflict, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Ali, was killed at Najaf in 661. Ali was the Prophet's closest relative and the one whom the Shi'ites saw as the Prophet's true successor, and he is regarded as a great saint and martyr.
The tomb of Ali has been honored at Najaf since as early as 750 AD, although it is possible he is actually buried in Afghanistan. Najaf became an important place of pilgrimage and a center of Shi'a religious learning. 
The tomb of Imam Ali is said to have been discovered at Najaf around 750 AD by Dawood Bin Ali Al-Abbas. A shrine was built over the tomb by Azod Eddowleh in 977, but later burned down. It was rebuilt by the Seljuk Malek Shah in 1086, and rebuilt yet again by Ismail Shah, the Safawid, in about 1500. - in: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/iraq/najaf

Al-Diriyah - Saudi Arabia

If there was a prize for the best postcrosser, I'd nominate Claus. He proved to be a very nice person in many occasions and this last time he was even more than nice. A couple of months ago he tagged me on a 2 favorites tag but the cards never arrived. He resent the cards but for some inexplicable reason these ones didn't arrive either. I told him it was necessary to resend them once again but he insisted. This time he sent the envelope by registered mail and the cards finally arrived. He didn't have more copies of the cards he tagged me for but I'm more than happy with the cards he sent. This one is from a missing UNESCO site in Saudi Arabia "At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah" and the other one is a german tentative site. How nice of him is this?? Thank you so much!!

Al-Diriyah is a town in Saudi Arabia located on the north-western outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Diriyah was the original home of the Saudi royal family, and served as the capital of the Emirate of Diriyah under the first Saudi dynasty from 1744 to 1818. 
Founded in the 15th century, it bears witness to the Najdi architectural style, which is specific to the centre of the Arabian peninsula. 
The Turaif district in Diriyah was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.

© By Najada
Saad bin Saud Palace is the biggest remaining Palace in Old Diriyyah today. It was renovated with careful study of the materials used when it was built originally. Diriyyah Palace is a true example of traditional architecture of Najd by using sun-dried mud-brick for walls and tamarisk beams for roofs. Its wooden doors are decorated with beautiful patterns, strengthened by heavy iron nails and bars. - in: http://www.splendidarabia.com/destinations/riyadh-province/old-diriyyah-palace/

Thursday, June 23, 2016

ID-169759

An official from Indonesia with some mythical creatures, known as Barong. These beasts protect the Balinese from evil spirits.

ID-169759, sent by Syifa.
Barong is a lion-like creature and character in the mythology of Bali, Indonesia. He is the king of the spirits, leader of the hosts of good, and enemy of Rangda, the demon queen and mother of all spirit guarders in the mythological traditions of Bali. The battle between Barong and Rangda is featured in Barong dance to represent the eternal battle between good and evil.
Barong animal mask dance, together with sanghyang dance are considered native Balinese dances.
Barong is portrayed as a lion with red head, covered in white thick fur, and wearing gilded jewelry adorned with pieces of mirrors.
The origins of the Barong are far a back in time and quite uncertain. Its origins could be from animist worship, before Hinduism appeared, when villagers still believed in the supernatural protective power of animals. - in: wikipedia

Wat Phra Kaew - Thailand

Two officials from Thailand, both showing the Wat Phra Kaew temple in Bangkok. The night view arrived a couple of weeks ago and the other card arrived in 2009, it was my 1st card from Thailand's capital.

Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (officially known as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram) is regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. Located in the historic centre of Bangkok, within the grounds of the Grand Palace, it enshrines Phra Kaew Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), the highly revered Buddha image meticulously carved from a single block of jade.
The Emerald Buddha (Phra Putta Maha Mani Ratana Patimakorn) is a Buddha image in the meditating position in the style of the Lanna school of the north, dating from the 15th century AD.

Jatuporn Rutnin - Photography
TH-223732, sent by Tavich.
Raised high on a series of platforms, no one is allowed near the Emerald Buddha except HM the King. A seasonal cloak, changed three times a year to correspond to the summer, winter, and rainy season covers the statue. A very important ritual, the changing of the robes is performed only by the King to bring good fortune to the country during each season. The temple of  Emerald Buddha is beautifully decorated and has a great sense of peace about it.

TH-26288, sent by Nhok.
The construction of the Temple of Emerald Buddha started when King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I) moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok in 1785. Unlike other temples, it does not contain living quarters for monks; rather, it has only elaborately decorated holy buildings, statues, and pagodas. The main building is the central 'ubosot' (ordination hall), which houses the Emerald Buddha. Even though it is small in size, it is the most important icon for Thai people. - in: http://www.bangkok.com/attraction-temple/wat-prakaeo.htm

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hirosaki Castle - Japan

Hirosaki Castle is a hirayama-style Japanese castle constructed in 1611, located in central Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture.

© Pin Up Co., Ltd
JP-390147, sent by Midori.
Hirosaki Castle was built in 1611 by the Tsugaru Clan. A three-story castle tower, fortified moats, castle gates and some corner turrets (yagura) survive or were reconstructed. The castle is located in Hirosaki Park, a spacious public park of about 0.6 square kilometers.
The castle's original five-story keep burnt down in 1627 after being struck by lightning. Rebuilt in 1810, the present three-story keep is the only one in the Tohoku Region that was not rebuilt in the modern era, amongst only a handful in all of Japan.

Copyright © 2001 Shigeru Kanehara
JP-790608, sent by Yuki.
Hirosaki Park is one of Japan's best cherry blossom spots. With its abundance of over 2500 trees, cherry blossom tunnels, petal filled moats, numerous pleasant picnic areas, rental rowing boats, many varieties of cherry trees and illuminations in the evenings, it feels like multiple great cherry blossom spots combined into a single one. A cherry blossom festival is held annually from April 23 to May 5, when the blossoms are usually in bloom. - in: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3700.html

CN-1932838

I had to ask for help to identify the local on this card. This beautiful snowy views is from Daming Lake Park in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province in Eastern China. 

Located in the center of Jinan City, Daming Lake Park is regarded as one of the three must-see spots in Jinan. The park is famous for Daming Lake (also known as the Lake of Great Light) which is a natural lake formed from many springs. Characteristically unique is its constant water level, unaffected by heavy rains or drought.

CN-1932838, sent by Yijia.
Daming Lake Park covers a total area of 860,000 square meters (about 212 acres) of which the lake itself comprises of 460,000 square meters (about 113 acres). The six islands in Daming Lake contain flowers, trees and other plants flourishing amongst the various pavilions. The lake is a center of activity and one can find fish leaping near yachts and boats. In summer, lotuses bloom uninhibitedly filling half of the park with its fragrant scent. At the same time, willows circle the lake on three sides and swing with the breeze, a scene for which Daming Lake is famous. The centerpiece of the lake is a great man-made hectometer fountain built in 1985. The fountain has 103 injectors, and the main injector can spout water as high as 100 meters (about 328 feet) in all its majesty. - in: https://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/shandong/jinan/daming_lake.htm

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sri Lanka's tea

I drink tea almost everyday but I'm not picky about the quality, the flavors or the origins. One thing I know, tea is one of the main and famous products of Sri Lanka. 
The card was sent by Ara.

Tea production is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is the world's fourth-largest producer of tea and it employs, directly or indirectly, over 1 million people.
The humidity, cool temperatures, and rainfall of the country's central highlands provide a climate that favors the production of high-quality tea. The industry was introduced to the country in 1867 by James Taylor, a British planter who arrived in 1852.

Photograph by Lasantha Lakmal
Directly and indirectly, over one million Sri Lankans are employed in the tea industry. A large proportion of the workforce is young women and the minimum working age is twelve. 
Girls typically follow their mothers, grandmothers and older sisters on the plantations, and the women are expected to perform most of the domestic duties.
In the plantation housing system, women and girls have no privacy from the male workers, which places them at a higher risk for sexual harassment.
The tea plantation is structured in a social hierarchy and the women, who often consist of 75%–85% of the work force in the industry, are at the lowest social strata and are powerless. 
Some concern towards women's rights have been made to the plantation workers in Sri Lanka, resulting in some 85 neighborhood women's groups being formed across the country, educating them in gender, leadership and preventing violence against women. - in: wikipedia

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Vagator Beach - Goa

Goa is a former portuguese province in India. Luís wife is from there and last February he finally could visit the place where she lived. 

Vagator has dramatic red cliffs looking down on the shore and two fresh water springs within a stone's throw of the sea. The beautiful Vagator beach is located about 22 Kms from Panaji and is situated in Bardez taluka in North Goa. 
Vagator Beach is split into two main beaches called Big Vagator & Little Vagator Beach. 

Photo - J. E. PAI
Little Vagator Beach is where an impressive stone face of Lord Shiva is located. It was carved into a seaside boulder by an unknown sculptor from the hippie era. A steep path leads down to the sands where is located the sculpted face of Shiva on a rock. Locals believe that the Shiva face was sculpted by a dedicated devotee of Lord Shiva who was incidentally a foreign tourist. This particular hippie wanted to build a small temple to Lord Shiva, but local egoistic hindrances did not encourage this tourist and hence during his long stay over couple of trips thus happened the wonderful work of art bang on the sea rock. The sculpted Shiva face is not visible and goes hidden under the waves during high tides. - in: http://www.boonsark.com/aroundvagator.html

Hippodrome - Istanbul

Damien has been to Istanbul last November, he sent me a 1st card from there in January and in March he sent me another card.
The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı (Sultan Ahmet Square) in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with a few fragments of the original structure surviving. - in: wikipedia

 © Copyright by KESKIN COLOR KARTPOSTALCILIK A. S.
The original Hippodrome was constructed in 200 AD. by Emperor Septimus Severus, when he rebuilt the town of Byzantium. After Severus, Constantine the Great made Constantinople new capital and gave much more importance to this area. The Hippodrome was the heart of the civil activities. Propaganda activities, rebellions, fighting's and eventually chariot races took place in this area. The Hippodrome continued to serve as primarily a sports center as well as a gathering place of the people for centuries during the Byzantium Era. After the Ottomans took over, it was also used for the same purpose. - in: http://www.letsgoistanbul.com/hippodrome.htm

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lutsk Castle - Ukraine

Another card from my favorites, this one from Ukraine and sent by Maryana.

Lutsk castle, also known as Lubart’s castle, is a symbol  and the most prominent landmark of Lutsk, a city on the Styr River in northwestern Ukraine.It  appears on the 200 hryvnia bill and in 2011, this castle won the first place in the contest “Seven Wonders of Ukraine”.

Lubart Castle is a remarkable example of medieval fortification architecture, one of the oldest in not only Ukraine, but all of Europe. This is typical European medieval fortification was built in 1340 as the residence of the Lithuanian-Volyn Prince Lubart.Many rulers envied the castle’s fortifications, and for over 600 years it withstood dozens of sieges, remaining in a great condition until today. - in: http://visittoukraine.com/en/unique-ukraine/lubart-castle.html

Favs from Romania

I don't get cards from Romania that often, the last ones I got arrived last summer. These arrived a couple of weeks ago and were sent by Anca. 
The more I learn about Romania, the more I'm interrested in visiting the country. 

Photo: © Marius Vasiliu
Built in 1487 and dedicated to the Holy Cross, the monastery at Patrauti is the oldest surviving religious site founded by Stephen the Great. Mural paintings, dating from around 1550, can still be admired on the west façade. In 1775, soon after Bucovina was annexed to the Habsburg Empire, the monastery was turned into a parish church. Today, only the church and a wooden bell tower are still standing from the original monastic complex. - in: http://romaniatourism.com/painted-monasteries.html#patrauti

Photo: © Marius Vasiliu
The Dragomirna Monastery was built during the first three decades of the 17th century, 15 km from Suceava, in Mitocu Dragomirnei commune. It is the tallest medieval monastery in Bucovina and renowned in Orthodox architecture for its unique proportions and intricate details, mostly carved into stone. It lies among forested hills of fir and oak. The history of the monastery started in 1602, when the small church in the graveyard was built and dedicated to Saints Enoch, Elijah and John the Theologian. In 1609 the dedication of the larger church was made to the "Descent of the Holy Spirit". - in: wikipedia

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Together Forever

An adorable card for my elderlies collection sent from Greece by Sofia.

Michalis Toubis S. S. Editions
Did you know that there's a small island in Greece where the inhabitants live on average 10 years longer than the rest of western Europe? On the small island of Ikaria, in the Aegean Sea 10 nautical miles (19 km) southwest of  Samos, one in three people live to 90 years of age and older. 

Mostar - Bosnia

I've many travel plans, one of them is to the Balkan region. When I find the right company and have the opportunity, Mostar is one of the places I want to visit.
I had have a few cards from Bosnia and this one is my 1st written & stamped from there. Hvala Agata!!

Acid DTP
The historic town of Mostar, spanning a deep valley of the Neretva River, developed in the 15th and 16th centuries as an Ottoman frontier town and during the Austro-Hungarian period in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mostar has long been known for its old Turkish houses and Old Bridge, Stari Most, after which it is named. In the 1990s conflict, however, most of the historic town and the Old Bridge, designed by the renowned architect Sinan, was destroyed. The Old Bridge was recently rebuilt and many of the edifices in the Old Town have been restored or rebuilt with the contribution of an international scientific committee established by UNESCO. The Old Bridge area, with its pre-Ottoman, eastern Ottoman, Mediterranean and western European architectural features, is an outstanding example of a multicultural urban settlement. The reconstructed Old Bridge and Old City of Mostar is a symbol of reconciliation, international co-operation and of the coexistence of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious communities. - in: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/946

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Piran - Slovenia

Piran is considered one of the most photogenic, picturesque and beautiful towns in Slovenia. The town is located in southwestern Slovenia on the Gulf of Piran on the Adriatic Sea. It is one of the three major towns of Slovenian Istria.
The cards were sent by Ivana, Sanela and Paulo. 

Photo by Janez Skok

The settlement began to develop in the 7th century, when Piran was mentioned in historical sources for the first time. Its masters changed throughout the centuries, with the increasing influence of Venice. In 1283 Piran accepted the authority of Venice, which lasted until the decline of the Venetian Republic in 1797. After that it fell under the authority of Austria until 1918. In the period between both world wars this territory belonged to Italy and later to Yugoslavia and Slovenia. - inhttp://www.slovenia.si/visit/trails/piran-a-pearl-of-the-slovenian-mediterranean/

The town has much medieval architecture, with narrow streets and compact houses. Piran is the administrative centre of the local area and one of Slovenia's major tourist attractions. Until the mid-20th century, Italian was the dominant language, but was replaced by Slovene as demographics shifted.
Foto © A. Kosmac
Piran was heavily influenced by the Venetian Republic and Austria-Hungary, therefore the monuments differ greatly from those in inner parts of Slovenia. The Piran town walls were constructed to protect the town from Ottoman incursions; many parts of the town walls from different eras remain, and are of interest to tourists.

In the middle of the town is the Tartini Square, with a monument in memory of Giuseppe Tartini. 
Piran is the birthplace of composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini, who played an important role in shaping its cultural heritage. The town's main square, Tartini Square is named after him. In 1892, the 200th anniversary of his birth, a monument to Tartini was erected in Piran. Venetian artist Antonio Dal Zotto was commissioned to create a larger-than-life bronze statue, which was mounted on its pedestal in 1896. The statue dominates the square, overlooked by the Cathedral of Saint George. - in: wikipedia

Bled - Slovenia

Bled is a town on Lake Bled in the Upper Carniolan region of northwestern Slovenia. Bled is known for the glacial Lake Bled, which makes it a major tourist attraction. Perched on a rock overlooking the lake is the iconic Bled Castle and in the middle of the lake there's the only natural island of the country. 
These beautiful cards were sent by Ivana, Leonardo and Sunny. 

Foto © A. Kosmac
The Bled Lake came into existance when the Bohinj Glacier moved away. It is 2120 m long, up to 1380 m wide and it is of the tectonic origin. After the last Ice Age, the Bohinj Glacier deepend its natural tectonic hollow and gave it its present form. When the ice melted the basin was filled with water. The lake has no considerable affluents except some streams. - in: http://www.slovenia.info/en/jezero/Lake-Bled.htm?jezero=190&lng=2

Foto: Janez Skok
The lake is situated in a picturesque environment, surrounded by mountains and forests. The medieval-era Bled Castle stands above the lake on the north shore. 

Foto: Marko Prezelj
Above the surface of Bled Lake rises the only real island in Slovenia. In a glacier hollow there is what remains of an Ice Age limestone moraine covered with trees. 
According to a legend, the temple of the ancient Slavic goddess Živa, once stood in the place of the present Baroque church. The temple disappeared during battles between the followers of the pagan religion and Christians, who destroyed the altar and built a church.
According to written sources, the first masonry church on the island, a three-nave Romanesque basilica, was consecrated by the Aquilean patriarch Pellegrino in 1142.
In the 15th century, it was rebuilt in the Gothic style.
In 1509 it was damaged by an earthquake to such an extent that it required thorough renovation, and this was carried out in the Baroque style. Only the frescoes in the presbytery and a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, which probably adorned the main altar, were preserved from the previous Gothic church.

The present form of the church dates from the 17th century when it was renovated after another earthquake. 
The bell tower, which was built in the 15th century, has been renovated several times due to damage by two earthquakes, and in 1688 it was struck by lightning. The present tower is 54 m high.
Of special interest is the ""wishing bell"" from 1534 in the upper roof beam above the church nave, by F. Patavina from Padova. According to the legend, a young widow Poliksena once lived at the Bled Castle, who had a bell casted for the chapel on the island in memory of her husband. During the transport of the bell, a terrible storm struck the boat and sank it together with the crew and the bell, which to this day is said to ring from the depths of the lake. After the widow died, the Pope consecrated a new bell and sent it to the Bled Island. It is said that whoever rings this bell and thereby gives honour to Virgin Mary gets his wish come true. - in: http://www.bled.si/en/what-to-see/cultural-sights/churches/the-church-on-the-island

Foto: Dorinka Mladenovic
The island church with its bell invites all visitors. The best way to get to the island is by the traditional Bled special boat called Pletna. 
To get to the island church there's a Baroque stairway from 1655 with 99 stone steps leading up to the building. The church is frequently visited and weddings are held there regularly. Traditionally it is considered good luck for the groom to carry his bride up the steps on the day of their wedding before ringing the bell and making a wish inside the church.

 Foto: Dorinka Mladenovic
Bled Castle is a medieval castle built on a precipice above the city of Bled in Slovenia, overlooking Lake Bled. According to written sources, it is the oldest Slovenian castle and is currently one of the most visited tourist attractions in Slovenia.
The castle was first mentioned in a 22 May 1011 deed of donation issued by Emperor Henry II in favour of the Bishops of Brixen. Then located in the March of Carniola, it passed to the Austrian House of Habsburg in 1278.
The oldest part of the castle is the Romanesque tower. In the Middle Ages more towers were built and the fortifications were improved. Other buildings were constructed in the Renaissance style.
 The buildings are arranged around two courtyards, which are connected with a staircase. There is a chapel on the upper courtyard, which was built in the 16th century, and renovated around 1700, when it was also painted with illusionist frescoes. The castle also has a drawbridge over a moat. - in: wikipedia

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

CZ-892106

When I tought I was done with the czech cards, I get another one, an official from Manětín, a town in the Plzeň Region of the Czech Republic.

Foto © L. Fukalová
CZ-892106, sent by Iveta.
The Manětín castle is often described as the “jewel of the west Bohemian Baroque”. The Baroque castle was rebuilt after the original Renaissance castle fell to fire. It is decorated with many Baroque sculptures and paintings. Roofed passage leads to the decanal church of John the Baptist. - in: http://en.pardubice-region.com/13_4751_manetin-chateau/