Sunday, January 29, 2017

Atomic Bomb Dome - Japan

With the official that I got last October, I've now 3 cards of the Atomic Bomb Dome, the most recognizable monument at Hiroshima Peace Memorial. 
The 1st two cards are officials, one of them from Indonesia, and the 3rd card was sent in 2009 by Adriana. 

ID-193304, sent by Febriani.
The A-Bomb Dome is a symbol of peace which most people have at least seen at one time in a picture. The building, which was designed by a Czech architect in 1915, had been used as the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.

JP-642775, sent by Kiyoshi.
Hiroshima citizens back then loved so much European modern-style buildings of the time. In 1912, the National Confectionery Exposition was held in this place. From that exposition, Baumkuchen, which represented German cake, was manufactured and sold in Japan for the first time. Since the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall was located only around 160 meters from the hypocenter, the building was blown up, and all those inside the building died.

However, the building was not destroyed completely because the blast of the atomic bomb, which was vaporized in the air, prevented it from totally collapsing. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 and has been representing people's prayers for a lasting peace. - in:

Chengjiang Fossil Site - China

China has many, many UNESCO sites, and by many I mean 50 sites, it is the 2nd country with most sites. The country with most sites in Italy. 
It wasn't easy to get cards from all the chinese sites but thanks to Chenzhen and Danise, I've now these 2 cards of the Chengjiang Fossil Site, inscribed in 2012. 

A hilly 512 ha site in Yunnan province, Chengjiang’s fossils present the most complete record of an early Cambrian marine community with exceptionally preserved biota, displaying the anatomy of hard and soft tissues in a very wide variety of organisms, invertebrate and vertebrate. They record the early establishment of a complex marine ecosystem. 

The site documents at least sixteen phyla and a variety of enigmatic groups as well as about 196 species, presenting exceptional testimony to the rapid diversification of life on Earth 530 million years ago, when almost all of today’s major animal groups emerged. It opens a palaeobiological window of great significance to scholarship. - in:

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Gol Gumbaz - India

This is the 2nd card K. R. Bhat sent me. 

Gol Gumbaz, the mausoleum of Muhammad Adil Shah (AD 1626 –56) located in Bijapur, District Bijapur, Karnataka State is an important monument of Indo-Islamic architecture aptly known for its amazing dimensions and unique acoustic features. 

The construction of this building was completed and the deceased king was interred in this building in 1034 AH (AD 1656) and contains the sepulcher containing the tombs of Muhammad Adil Shah (AD 1626-1656), the seventh Sultan of the Adil Shahi dynasty, his wives and daughters. Soon after his accession to the throne in AD 1626, the Sultan started constructing this edifice for burying his mortal remains. He was buried in the vast vault beneath the floor along with other family members. The exact position of the real tomb is indicated by the wooden canopy kept on the high platform at the middle of the floor of the hall.
This edifice ranks among the most imposing ones in India for the sheer monumentality of its massive dome and its floor area. - in:

Golden Temple - India

After a UNESCO trade with K. R. Bath, we traded again. He was looking for markets and stalls cards. I had two available cards and choose this and another card from his albuns. The 2nd of these 2 cards was sent in 2013 by Sarah.

The Golden Temple is located in the city Amritsar, Northern Punjab, India, which is close to the border of Pakistan.

The Harmandir Sahib is the holiest shrine in Sikhism. Previously (and still more commonly) known as the Golden Temple, it was officially renamed Harmandir Sahib in March 2005. The temple (or gurdwara) is a major pilgrimage destination for Sikhs from all over the world, as well as an increasingly popular tourist attraction.
Unlike many historical sacred sites, the Golden Temple of Amritsar is still fully alive with religious fervor and sacredness, and visitors are welcomed to join in the experience. Although the building itself has great historical and architectural interest, it is the Golden Temple's great spiritual meaning for Sikh believers (and others) that is most memorable to visitors. In a country that is exceptionally rich with vibrant devotion, Frommer's rates the Golden Temple "the most tangibly spiritual place in the country."

Construction of the Golden Temple began in 1574 on land donated by the Mughal emperor Akbar. The building project was overseen by the fourth and fifth Sikh Gurus. The temple was completed in 1601, but restoration and embellishment continued over the years. The temple had to be substantially rebuilt after it was sacked in the 1760s.
In the early 19th century, 100 kg of gold were applied to the inverted lotus-shaped dome and decorative marble was added. All this gold and marble work took place under the patronage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The legendary warrior king was a major donor of money and materials for the shrine and is remembered with much affection by the Sikh community and Punjabi people. - in:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Channakeshara Temple - India

 Chennakesava Temple (also called Kesava or Keshava temple) is located in Somanathapura, a town located 35 km from the historic Mysore city in Mysore district, Karnataka state, India. 

Photo by V. B. Anand
The temple was built by Somanatha, a Dandanayaka (commander) in 1268 CE under Hoysala Empire King Narasimha III, when the Hoysalas were the major power in South India. The Keshava temple is one of the finest and most complete examples of Hoysala architecture and is also one of the best preserved Hoysala temples. The temple is a trikutachala (a three celled structure), with the three sanctums or shrines connected by a vestibule.
The temple is in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India as a protected heritage site. - in: wikipedia

Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin - Armenia

I've to confess that I don't know much about Armenia but these 2 cards really make me to wish to go there. These monasteries are wonderful. Both are classified as UNESCO WHS. Sini did a great job choosing the cards and the stamps. 

These two Byzantine monasteries in the Tumanian region from the period of prosperity during the Kiurikian dynasty (10th to 13th century) were important centres of learning. Sanahin was renown for its school of illuminators and calligraphers. The two monastic complexes represent the highest flowering of Armenian religious architecture, whose unique style developed from a blending of elements of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and the traditional vernacular architecture of the Caucasian region. - in:

Photo by Levon Bakhshyan
Haghpat Monastery, also known as Haghpatavank, is a medieval monastery complex in Haghpat, Armenia.
The monastery was founded by Queen Khosrovanuysh, wife of the Bagratid king Ashot III, probably in 976.
The largest church in the complex, the Cathedral of Surb Nishan, probably begun in 976, was completed in 991 by king Smbat. It is a typical example of tenth century Armenian architecture. 
There are several other structures at the site as well. There is the small domed Church of Sourb Grigor (St. Gregory ) from 1005. Two side chapels were added to the original church; the larger one built in the beginning of the 13th century and the smaller, known as "Hamazasp House", built in 1257. In 1245, a three-story tall free-standing belltower was constructed. Other 13th century additions include the chapel of Sourb Astvatsatsin, the scriptorium, and a large refectory which is outside of the monastery limits.
The monastery has been damaged many times. Sometime around 1130, an earthquake destroyed parts of Haghpat Monastery and it was not restored until fifty years later. It also suffered numerous attacks by armed forces in the many centuries of its existence and from a major earthquake in 1988. Nevertheless, much of the complex is still intact and stands today without substantial alterations. - in: wikipedia

Photo by Levon Bakhshyan
Sanahin Monastery is an Armenian monastery founded in the 10th century in the Lori Province of Armenia.
The name Sanahin literally translates from Armenian as "this one is older than that one", presumably representing a claim to having an older monastery than the neighbouring Haghpat Monastery. The two villages and their monasteries are similar in many ways, and lie in plain view of each other on a dissected plateau formation, separated by a deep "crack" formed by a small river flowing into the Debed river.
As with Haghpat, Sanahin is frequented by an increasing number of tourists, due to its recent inclusion on the itineraries of a great number of Armenian tour agencies, the beauty of its monastery complex matching that of Haghpat's. The complex belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church with numerous khachkars (stones with elaborate engravings representing a cross) and bishop gravesites scattered throughout it. - in: wikipedia

Monday, January 23, 2017

Kecharis Monastery - Armenia

Saint Grigor's Church is Kecharis Monastery main temple. The image on this card is a few years old because today this church and other structures of the monastery are fully restored. 

Kecharis is a medieval Armenian monastic complex dating back to the 11th to 13th centuries, located 60 km from Yerevan, in the ski resort town of Tsakhkadzor. Nestled in the Bambak mountains, Kecharis was founded by a Pahlavuni prince in the 11th century, and construction continued until the middle of the 13th century. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Kecharis was a major religious center of Armenia and a place of higher education.
The domes of the two main churches were heavily damaged in an earthquake in 1927. The buildings were conserved during the period of the Armenian SSR, and rebuilding work started in the 1980s. A series of nationwide problems led to a halt in the rebuilding for about a decade as the 1988 Armenian earthquake hit, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Nagorno-Karabakh War broke out, and Armenia was blockaded by its two allied Turkic neighbors. Rebuilding work resumed at Kecharis in 1998 and finished in 2000. The restarted work was paid for by an Armenian donor from Vienna, Vladimir Harutyunian, in memory of his parents Harutyun and Arsenik. - in: wikipedia

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow - Russia

Some nice beautiful cards of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. 

RU-129853, sent by Lena.
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow may be the largest Orthodox church in the world. The building is magnificent, but not as old as it looks: it was rebuilt in 2000 after the original was demolished by Stalin.
The idea for this church dates from the early 19th century. When the last of Napoleon's soldiers left Moscow, Tsar Alexander I signed a manifesto dated December 25, 1812, declaring his intention to build a cathedral in honor of Christ the Savior. The cathedral would "signify Our gratitude to Divine Providence for saving Russia from the doom that overshadowed Her" and acts as a memorial to the sacrifices of the Russian people.

RU-5133810, sent by Ekaterina.
 Alexander commissioned his favourite architect Konstantin Thon to create a design, modeled after the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. The present site was chosen by the Tsar in 1837; a convent and church already standing on the site had to be relocated.

Construction began in 1839 and the cathedral didn't emerge from its scaffolding until 1860; elaborate frescos by some of the best Russian painters continued in the interior for another 20 years. The cathedral was consecrated on the day Alexander III was crowned, May 26, 1883. After the Revolution, the prominent site of the cathedral called out for redevelopment by the Soviets, who planned to replace the church with a monument to socialism, known as the Palace of Soviets. It would rise in modernistic buttressed tiers to support a gigantic sculpture of Lenin, arm raised in blessing, perched atop a dome. On December 5, 1931, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was dynamited and reduced to rubble.

RU-1080282, sent by Helen. 
With the end of the Soviet rule, the Russian Orthodox Church received permission to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (February 1990). A temporary cornerstone was laid by the end of the year.
A construction fund was opened in 1992 and foundations began to be poured in the fall of 1994. The lower church (Church of the Transfiguration) was consecrated in 1996, and the completed Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was consecrated August 19, 2000." - in:

Church of Saint Elijah - Ukraine

One last wooden church from Ukraine. 

Church of Saint Elijah, in Dora village, was completed in the summer of 1938. It is an example of an Hutsul wooden church, built without nails. The church belongs to the Studite monastery of the Greek-Catholic church. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Wooden Tserkvas in Ukraine

In 2013 UNESCO inscribed on the WHS list 16 wooden tserkvas, 8 from Ukraine and other 8 from Poland. From Ukraine I already had a card of St. George Church in Drohobych and now I also have cards of Lord's Ascension Church and Descent of the Holy Spirit Church. 

Lord's Ascension Church in Yasinya is considered to be one of the finest examples of the Hutsul architectural style and few modern alterations have been made to the building. 
According to a Hutsul legend the church was built on the site where a flock of sheep miraculously survived through the winter unharmed after being left behind by a shepherd in a snowstorm. 
The Church of the Ascension was built in 1824 on the site of an older church, though some accounts suggest the current church is from the late 18th century. 
As a perfect example of the Hutsul style it features a floor plan in the shape of a cross, a large central dome above the nave with an onion dome at the top and four much smaller onion domes at the four corners of the building. A minor addition was added to the structure of the church in 1994 when a wooden entrance room was added onto the side in the same style as the rest of the church. 
Unfortunately the interior of the church is not in its original state, and the icons and iconostasis are crudely crafted versions of the originals. - in:

Descent of the Holy Spirit Church was built in suburb of Potelych, Ukraine in 1502 on the place of a church that burned down by tatars. It is the oldest wooden church in Lviv Oblast. 
he structure consisits of three wooden naves and a brick sacristy. - in: wikipedia

Friday, January 20, 2017

Lviv Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life - Ukraine

These two beautiful wooden churches can be visited at the Lviv Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life. This is an open-air museum containing 120 monuments of folk architecture including six wooden churches. Hardly any museum in the world can boast with so many old religious buildings. - in:

This wonderful wooden church was the first structure in the museum's collection. It was originally constructed in 1763 in the small village of Kryvka and moved to the museum in 1930. 
Today, Saint Nicholas church is the museum's main attraction and a superb example of the Boyko wooden church. Boyko churches are identifiable by a building plan with three steeples where the tallest steeple is the central one.

I'm not 100% sure, it wasn't easy to find information about this church, but this is probably St. Vladimir and St. Olga church, copy of a 1831 church in Kotány village. It was built thanks to the donations of Lemkos of USA, Canada and Lemko community of Lviv.
The distinctive wooden architectural style of the Lemko churches (as opposed to their neighbouring sub-ethnic groups such as the Boikos) is to place the highest cupola of the church building at the entrance to the church, with the roof sloping downward toward the sanctuary. - in: wikipedia

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Lviv's Opera House - Ukraine

This is not a castle, this is not a church, this is Lviv's Opera House, one of the most beautiful theatres in Europe. 
Constructed at the beginning of the 20th century, designed by architect Zygmunt Gorgolewski, the Grand Theatre in Lviv has been compared to the Paris and Vienna opera houses. 
This building comprises various European architectural styles fashioned in all their lavishness. 

The façade forms are very complicated and diverse: columns, balustrades, and niches filled with allegorical sculptures. Statues of eight muses rise above the main cornice of the façade, and above them stands the grand  ten-figure composition of The Joys and Miseries of Life. The fronton above is completed with a sculptural triad of the winged bronze figures of the genii of Drama, Comedy and Tragedy, and in the centre stands Glory with a gold palm branch in her hand. These sculptures were created by the hands of the outstanding Lviv artists Popiel, Baroncz, and Viytovych.  
The interior of the Lviv Opera House is no less amazing than the exterior. The internal decoration is gilded (with a few kilograms of gold), adorned with different-coloured marble, decorative paintings, and sculptures. The four-circled lyre-shaped hall accommodates over a thousand people. Embellishing the stage, the decorative curtain Parnassus (1900), painted by Henryk Siemiradzki, represents an allegorical image of the meaning of life in the Parnassus figures. The hall of the Lviv Opera House is remarkable for its perfect acoustics. On offer are performances by celebrated opera and ballet troupes of Ukraine as well as distinguished guest performers from abroad. The Lviv Opera House is the host venue for the recently revived Vienna Balls. - in:

Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi Fortress - Ukraine

This fortress is the main attraction of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, a 2500 years old town, considered to be the oldest town in Ukraine.

It is the biggest fortress in the country, and a unique monument to the defensive architecture of the 13th -15th centuries. Despite its 'venerable' age and the historical events to which it was a first hand witness, the fortress managed to preserve its original structure, and today it is considered to be the best preserved medieval fortification facility in Ukraine.

The Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi fortress was founded on the ruins of the ancient town Tyr. The reason for the fortress’s construction was the need to protect the town from the constant invasions of its enemies. It is awe-inspiring with its power and size: the total length of its walls is over two kilometers.
For two centuries, the outpost served as good defense for its owners. In the late 15th century, however, after a prolonged siege, the fortress surrendered to the Ottomans. The Turks renamed it ‘Akkerman’ (which means 'White Fortress'), and ruled the territory for over 300 years. In the early 19th century, the Russian Empire claimed the fortress as a spoil of victory after a Russo-Turkish war. Over time, the fortress lost its defensive importance. For over a century, this impressive historical and architectural monument has been protected by the state. - in:

Ostroh Castle - Ukraine

Menacingly towering over the twenty-meter-high hill in the age-old town of Ostroh not far from Rivne, the Ostroh Castle is seen as a token sample of the Ukrainian fortification architecture and is recognized as one of the Volyn’s most interesting historical and architectural monuments.

In the 14th century, the castle complex was raised on the place of the Old Russian town, which was destroyed by Mongolian Tatars in 1241. It remained Ostroh princes’ residence for more than three centuries. They were the richest and the most powerful magnates, who owned a lot of lands on the territory of the modern Ukraine.
Consisting of stone and wooden buildings, the castle was well fortified: it was protected by the steep from two sides and by the deep ditch, dug in place of the former ravine, from the other two. The Ostroh Castle was repeatedly rebuilt and modernized during its centuries-long existence. Two towers – Stone and Round – Epiphany Cathedral with gate belfry, and fragments of defensive walls survived until now. - in:

Friday, January 6, 2017

Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle - Ukraine

I've swapped 37 cards with Andrzej, I think, and the country I picked more cards from, was Ukraine!! Castles and churches, the country has some beautiful ones worth to visit. I know I'd love to visit Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle. 

Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle is a former Ruthenian-Lithuanian castle and a later three-part Polish fortress located in the historic city of Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine, in the historic region of Podolia in the western part of the country.
Historical accounts date the Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle to the early 14th century, although recent archaeological evidence has proved human existence in the area back to the 12th or 13th century. Initially built to protect the bridge connecting the city with the mainland, the castle sits on top of a peninsula carved out by the winding Smotrych River, forming a natural defense system for Kamianets-Podilskyi's historic Old Town neighborhood.

Oleg Zharii
Its location on a strategic transport crossroad in Podolia and made the castle a prime target for foreign invaders, who rebuilt the castle to suit their own needs, adding to its multicultural architectural diversity. Specifically, the complex consists of the Old Town fortified by King Casimir IV, the Old Castle rebuilt by Kings Sigismund I and Stephen Báthory, and the New Castle founded by Kings Sigismund III and Władysław IV. However, in spite of the many architectural and engineering changes to the original structure, the castle still forms a coherent architectural design, being one of the few medieval constructions in Ukraine that is relatively well preserved.
Along with the Old Town neighborhood, the castle is listed as part of the National Historical-Architectural Sanctuary "Kam'ianets" and the National Environmental Park "Podilski Tovtry". The complex is a candidate UNESCO World Heritage Site, nominated in 1989 by the Ukrainian representatives, and also one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine.
Today, the Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle is the most recognized landmark of the city, serving as an important regional and national tourist attraction. - in: wikipedia

Corvin Castle - Romania

I've been thinking about a trip to Romania, there are many places there that I'd like to visit. This castle is definitely one of them. Look how beautiful it is!! 
Corvin Castle, also known as Hunyadi Castle or Hunedoara Castle is a Gothic-Renaissance castle in Hunedoara, Romania. It is one of the largest castles in Europe and one of the Seven Wonders of Romania. I can see why.

The most spectacular Gothic-style castle in Romania, Corvin was built by the Anjou family on the site of a former Roman camp. The castle served as a fortress until the mid-14th century when it became the residence of Transylvania's voivode, Iancu de Hunedoara (Ioannes Corvinus in Latin, Hunyadi in Hungarian).
Iancu upgraded the fortress transforming it into a stunning Transylvania castle.
The castle's courtyard features a 100-ft. well dug into stone, in the 15th Century.
Legend says that the well was dug by three Turkish prisoners who were promised freedom when job was done.
It took them 15 years and 28 days to reach water. - in:

Herzegovina - Bosnia & Herzegovina

Too make it shorter, we often call Bosnia to Bosnia and Herzegovina. In fact Bosnia is a geographical and historical region of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Herzegovina is another region. This postcard is from Herzegovina, in the south of the country.

All these monuments and places can be visited in Herzegovina. 
In Radimlja we can find stećci, monumental medieval tombstones that lie scattered across Bosnia and Herzegovina and also in the border parts of Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. Last July, some of this tombs were classified as World Heritage.
Počitelj is a small historical town located below the high cliffs above Neretva river, dominated by the medieval defense fortress.
In the pictures below, the Mostar bridge is immediately recognizable. I'll go there one day.
Hutovo Blato is a nature and bird reserve.
On the last picture there's Međugorje Sanctuary. Only a few days ago, reading a book by José Rodrigues dos Santos, a portuguese reporter and author, I've learned of the existence of this sanctuary. Međugorje is a famous place of pilgrimage because of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to 6 children in 1981. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Budapest's Great Synagogue - Hungary

I really, really want to visit Budapest, I just need someone to go with me. Any candidates? 
There are many interresting attractions in Budapest, one of them is the Great Synagogue in Dohány Street (also known as Dohány Street Synagogue). This is the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. 

Foto: Simon László
It was built between 1854 and 1859 in Moorish Revival or Neo-Moorish style, in the wake of Romanticism. Originally, there was a residential block next to the synagogue. In fact, Theodor Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, was born in one of the houses located there. This site is now part of the complex and home to the Jewish Museum.
During the inter-war years, anti-Semitism grew quickly in Hungary. A series of anti-Jewish policies were passed, and fascist groups like the Arrow Cross Party started to attract more followers. Hungary became an ally of Germany and the Arrow Cross Party damaged the Synagogue in 1939. During World War II, the Great Synagogue served as a stable and as a radio communication center for the Germans. Today, the compound serves as the main center for the Jewish community.
The buildings and the courtyards of the Synagogue include the Jewish Museum, the Heroes' Temple, the Jewish Cemetery and the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park. - in:

Levoča - Slovakia

Here it comes another card from Slovakia, this one sent by Andrzej. The historic town of Levoča together with the Spiš Castle and the associated cultural monuments, is an UNESCO site since 2009. 

The historic town Levoča, situated in the east of the Spiš region, is a true cultural and historic jewel among the Slovak towns as it possesses a great number of architectural monuments linked with the glorious past of the town.
The Spiš town of Levoča (population 14,500) situated in the east of Slovakia below the mountain range Levočské vrchy, because of its rich history, is one of the most visited by tourist in the country.

Foto © Ladislav Jirousek
The dominant part of the old Levoča is the large rectangular square, with the Roman-Catholic St. James church from the 14th century, which is one of the most important sacral buildings in Slovakia. 
The church neighbours with the arcaded building of the former Town Hall which was built after the fire in 1550 and is one of the finest buildings of secular Renaissance architecture in Slovakia. - in:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Prague's Old Town Square

Happy 2017. May the new year bring us many postcards and forget about new stamp prices and mail services strikes.
I have already said that I have only sent and received 59 official postcards but the number is much more higher adding all the other postcards. I sent 392 and received 419 postcards. Will these numbers increase in 2017? Lets wait and see.
During 2016 Vitoria sent me some postcards, the last one came from Prague. Today I'm posting her postcard together with another one that a friend brought me from there a few years ago.

Foto: Milan Kincl
The Old Town Square is one of two main squares in Prague (Wenceslas Square is the other, just 5 minutes walk away).
With its ancient buildings and magnificent churches, this is one of the most beautiful historical sights in Europe.
The Old Town Square dates from the 12th century and started life as the central marketplace for Prague. Over the centuries buildings of Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic styles were erected around the market, each bringing with them stories of wealthy merchants and political intrigue.

The most notable sights on the square are the Old Town Hall Tower & Astronomical Clock, Tyn Church and St. Nicholas Church.
To fully appreciate the beauty of the Old Town Square, sit back and soak up the atmosphere over a coffee or a cool beer at one of the pavement cafés lining the square. Or climb the Old Town Hall Tower for a stunning view over the square. - in: