Saturday, December 26, 2020

Grand Sultan Mosque - Singapore

A visit to Singapore’s Kampong Glam district isn’t complete without a stop at Sultan Mosque. With its massive golden dome and huge prayer hall, the Sultan Mosque is one of Singapore's most impressive religious buildings, and the focal point of Muslims in Singapore.

SG-332416, sent by Eileen.
The mosque was first built in 1824 by Sultan Hussain Shah, the first sultan of Singapore, with a grant from the East India Company. The minarets and balustrades you see today were added on by architect Denis Santry, who supervised the reconstruction after the mosque’s centennial celebration.
Published by Intellectual Publishing CO.
The main prayer hall can hold up to 5,000 worshippers, and is one of the biggest and most amazing religious structures in Singapore. - in:

Kiyomizudera Temple - Japan

Kiyomizu-dera Temple is one of Kyoto’s must-see attractions. If you're planning to travel to Kyoto  and want to visit this temple hoping to take some nice pictures, you'd better think twice. Kiyomizudera's is currently undergoing renovations on the main hall and stage area. Construction is expected to be completed in spring 2021.  It won't be possible to take pictures like the postcard Noriko sent me in 2008. However visitors will be able to enter the main hall during the renovations. 

 JP-1129607, sent by Chizuko.
 Kiyomizudera (清水寺, literally "Pure Water Temple") is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto, and derives its name from the fall's pure waters. The temple was originally associated with the Hosso sect, one of the oldest schools within Japanese Buddhism, but formed its own Kita Hosso sect in 1965. In 1994, the temple was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
Kiyomizudera is best known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below. The stage affords visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees below that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as of the city of Kyoto in the distance. The main hall, which together with the stage was built without the use of nails, houses the temple's primary object of worship, a small statue of the eleven faced, thousand armed Kannon. 
JP-1463986, sent by Mina.
The three story pagoda at Kiyomizu-dera is one of the tallest of its kind in Japan, standing at 31 meters high. The current structure dates from a reconstruction carried out in 1633, when its original red coloring was also restored. Though you can see traditional onigawara tiles with demonic faces on them when looking at the roof, on the southeastern corner you can see a dragon regarded as a god of water that protects the structure against fire.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020


After two chinese temples, now I've a japanese temple, Rurikoin temple in Kyoto, famous for its maples trees.
Located in northern Kyoto near Mt Hiei, this temple is one of the most attractive and hard-to-visit tourist sites in Kyoto as the temple is open for public only twice a year in spring and autumn. The main attraction of the temple is maple trees which display astonishing scenery collaborating with the historical buildings and traditional Japanese gardens at the temple.

JP-1439154, sent by Sachiko.
Rurikoin Temple is famous for the iconic scenery which can is found at the second floor of the Shoin building, displaying colourful autumn leaves from the open window. There is a large lacquered black table in the room which works as a mirror and reflects the autumn leaves scenery and creates a breathtaking scenery. This view of the reflected leaves is called “Yuka Momiji” (Yuka means floor and Momiji means maple (leaves) in Japanese), and this picturesque autumn scenery at Rurikoin Temple has become hugely famous across the world through the social media recently, and attracts even larger number of visitors every year. - in:

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

CN-3009269 & CN-3020102

Mail from china has been scarce, in the last 5 months I've received only these two official postcards.

CN-3009269, sent from Rain.

Yongbulakang, meaning "mother-son palace" in Tibetan, is the first palace and one of the most ancient establishments in Tibet. Dwarfing on the Zhaxiciri Hill, this fortress-like temple, in typical Tibetan style, has a history of more than 2,100 years.

During the 7th century, it was the summer palace of Songtsen Gampo and his wife, Princess Wencheng. Later the fifth Dalai Lama expanded it and rebuilt the palace into a temple, which is kept intact now. - in:

CN-3020102, sent by Whitzhe. 
Hanshan Temple is located three miles (5 km) west of the old city of Suzhou along the banks of the Grand Canal. In addition to elegant structures like the Mahavira Hall, the Bell Tower and the Puming Pagoda, the temple houses a remarkable collection of stone tablets etched with Buddhist sutras and Chinese poetry.
The temple, considered to be one of the 10 greatest temples in China, owes its fame to a classic Chinese poem called “A Night Mooring by Maple Bridge.” These days, it’s also known for its yearly midnight bell ringing. Every Lunar New Year’s Eve, thousands of visitors come from across China and beyond to hear the monks strike the temple’s enormous bell 108 times to ring in the new year. - in;

Chersonesus - Ukraine

In 2013 Ukraine had two sites added to the UNESCO WHS list, the Wooden Tserkvas of Carpathian region and Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora, where these cards are from.
The ancient city is located on the shore of the Black Sea at the outskirts of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine.

The site features the remains of a city founded by Dorian Greeks in the 5th century BC on the northern shores of the Black Sea. It encompasses six component sites with urban remains and agricultural lands divided into several hundreds of chora, rectangular plots of equal size. The plots supported vineyards whose production was exported by the city which thrived until the 15th century. The site features several public building complexes and residential neighbourhoods, as well as early Christian monuments alongside remains from Stone and Bronze Age settlements; Roman and medieval tower fortifications and water supply systems; and exceptionally well-preserved examples of vineyard planting and dividing walls. 

 UA-1774059, sent by Oksana.
In the 3rd century AD, the site was known as the most productive wine centre of the Black Sea and remained a hub of exchange between the Greek, Roman and Byzantine Empires and populations north of the Black Sea. It is an outstanding example of democratic land organization linked to an ancient polis, reflecting the city’s social organization. - in:

RU-5402673, sent by Vera. 
The Saint Vladimir Cathedral is a Neo-Byzantine Russian Orthodox cathedral on the site of Chersonesos Taurica. It commemorates the presumed place of St. Vladimir's baptism.
The author of the project of St. Vladimir Cathedral in Chersonese was academician David Grimm. According to his plan, the Cathedral had to be built in Byzantine style. The construction took 15 years and was finished in 1874-1876.
During World War II the cathedral was destroyed. The work on its restoration began in the late 1990s, even though it was made more active only in 2000. - in: wikipedia

Friday, December 18, 2020


 St. Anne's Church was one of the buildings I wanted to visit the most in Vilnius. It didn't disappointed me. In my opinion, it is the most beautiful building in the city.

LT-735874, sent by Edita.
The church has remained almost unchanged over the last five centuries and is one of the most beautiful and probably the most famous buildings in Vilnius. It is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture and is surrounded by many legends. The most famous of them recounts how Napoleon wanted to take the church back with him to Paris in his palm. Next to the church stands a bell tower built in the 19th century, imitating the Gothic style. And the church is already an inseparable symbol of Vilnius. - in:

Tuesday, December 15, 2020


Kolobrzeg is an old spa and seaside resort located on the Polish Baltic Sea coast at the mouth of the Parseta River.

PL-1692084, sent by Agata. 
Kolobrzeg is an ancient city whose history dates back to the 5th century. In the year 900 a castle was built at the mouth of the Parseta River and in the year 1000 it was a very important city, especially religiously in Pomerania. In the 14th century, the city joined the Hansa and quickly became one of the richest Hanseatic cities. Wealth originated in particular from a very extensive production of salt, one of the most important trade routes between the old Hanseatic cities was from Kolobrzeg (salt) via Stettin (herring) to Hamburg and Lübeck, but the city’s trading partners also extended in Europe to Spain and from England to Ukraine. Salt production in Kolobrzeg lasted until the beginning of the 1600s. In the late 1800s, the city changed its way of life when it became known for its special microclimate and the iodine and saline air. 
During World War II, Kolobrzeg was one of the first Polish coastal towns to be liberated, the city suffered severe destruction, about 90% of the city was in ruins, but today it is beautifully rebuilt and has restored many of the beautiful old houses in the original style. The greatness of the past does not deny, which you can see for yourself, it is a city worth a visit if you appreciate the sun, beach and beautiful buildings. - in:

Monday, December 14, 2020

Białowieża Forest - Poland & Belarus

Białowieża Forest World Heritage site is shared by Poland and Belarus. This transboundary property is exceptional for the opportunities it offers for biodiversity conservation.

Licence photo by Adam Falkowsky

PL-1712750, sent by Aneta.  
Bialowieza Forest is a large forest complex located on the border between Poland and Belarus. Thanks to several ages of protection the Forest had survived in its natural state to this day.
This property includes a complex of lowland forests that are characteristics of the Central European mixed forests terrestrial ecoregion. The area has exceptionally conservation significance due to the scale of its old growth forests, which include extensive undisturbed areas where natural processes are on-going. A consequence is the richness in dead wood, standing and on the ground, and consequently a high diversity of fungi and saproxylic invertebrates.

The property protects a diverse and rich wildlife of which 59 mammal species, over 250 bird, 13 amphibian, 7 reptile and over 12,000 invertebrate species. The iconic symbol of the property is the European Bison: approximately 900 individuals in the whole property which make almost 25% of the total world’s population and over 30% of free-living animals.

The Bialowieza National Park, Poland, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 and extended to include Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Belarus, in 1992. A large extension of the property in 2014 results in a property of 141,885 ha with a buffer zone of 166,708 ha. - in:


Wikipedia says that the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier is probably the the most spectacular landmark of Grodno. 

BY-2648201, sent by Sonya.
The construction of the church started in 1687, when the city was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The completed building in Baroque style was consecrated in 1705 to St. Francis Xavier. The monastery was dissolved in 1773 and the church became a parish one. The church survived World War II with no serious damage.
In 1960 it was officially closed for a public religious services (for 27 years). The Soviet authorities tried to convert the building into a museum or a concert hall. Despite this the people attended the church every Sunday for a common prayer, songs and rosary. The religious services were restored in 1987. In 1990 the church was granted the title of minor basilica, and a year later it became a cathedral for a diocese of Grodno. - in:


An official from Russia with St. Mikhail's Cathedral and the State Opera and Ballet House of the Udmurt Republic in Izhevsk. 
RU-8056269, sent by Ulyana.
Izhevsk  is the capital city of the Udmurt, located along the Izh River in the Western Ural Mountains. 
The cathedral was erected between 1897 and 1915, only to be demolished by the Soviets in 1937. It was rebuilt in 2004–2007. 
The State  Opera and Ballet Housewas founded in 1958. Now it functions in its own building on the Central Square of Izhevsk. That building was built in 1984.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Finnish Nature

 Leaving the city life to enjoy some nature in northern Finland, with these cards sent by my penpals Anna-Maria and Anne.

© Hannu Hautala

Kiutaköngäs in the Oulanka National Park is one of the largest free waterfalls in Finland. Together with Hepoköngäs it's also among the country's best-known waterfalls. Measured in flow rate alone, Kiutaköngäs may be the largest free rapid in Finland (mean flood discharge is up to 261 m3/s), while the total drop height of 14 metres is divided along a distance of 325 metres. Kiutaköngäs is unique not only because of the enormous amount of water, but also because of the beautiful red dolomite-cliffs north of the rapid. The wonderful atmosphere of the place is yet emphasized by the rugged forests and picturesque river scenery of the national park. - in:

Foto: Reino Turunen

The village of Kilpisjärvi is located in the northwest extremity of Lapland in the municipality of Enontekiö. The village is bordered by Kilpisjärvi lake and the Saana fell, sacred to the Sami people. 
Saana's looming profile, rising 1,029m (3,376 feet) above sea level, is a well-known sight to most Finns. Saana gets its name from the Sami word meaning polypore, a kind of fungus, which refers to the fell’s shape. The west side of Saana became protected in 1988, because the summit area of the fell is barren and home to many rare species of butterfly. - in:

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sibelius Monument - Finland

I've been to Helsinki last year but didn't get to see this monument. 
The 1st card was sent by Maija and the 2nd is one of my 1st oficial cards from Finland, received in 2006.

Photo: Pentti Harala

The world famous composer Jean Sibelius' (1865-1957) monument by Eila Hiltunen is located at the Sibelius park. It was unveiled 7 September 1967. 
FI-93417, sent by Annette. 
 The Sibelius Monument, resembling organ pipes, is made of welded steel with over 600 pipes and with the bust of the composer on one side. The monument is one of Helsinki's most popular statues and one of the most well-known tourist attractions. - in:


Getting officials from Sweden doesn't happens that often. 
The medieval church in the north of the island of Visingsö in Lake Vättern is best known nowadays for its cut-off tower, from which visitors can enjoy the view.

SE-184211, sent by Annette. 
Kumlaby Church was built in the 12th century using local slate, with sandstone door and window frames. The church comprises nave, chancel, apse and a west tower added slightly later. In the 15th century, the church was vaulted and decorated with frescos depicting motifs from the legends of the saints and medieval symbolism.
During the 16th century, the island’s two parishes were merged into one and, in 1636, all church activity was moved to the newly completed Brahe Church. Per Brahe the Younger then converted the abandoned church into schoolrooms for the school he had founded: ‘Schola Brahea’, the Visingsborg School. Among other things, he had the steeple removed and built a platform there for the pupils to study astronomy.
The church served as a school for 175 years, after which it was left to its fate. For a number of years during the 19th century, it was used by the missionary movement. In 1922, the church underwent radical restoration, assuming its present appearance.
As a visitor, not only can you go into the church but also up to the top of the cut-off tower. The staircase up to the tower is narrow and dark, but well worth the effort. It is said that in fine weather you can see four of Sweden’s provinces – Småland, Östergötland, Närke and Västergötland – from the top. - in:


One more card on which the ID doesn't match with the image. The card is an official from Switzerland but the castle is located in Ireland.

 CH-508519, sent by Marta.  
In the very heart of the county town, towering over the River Eske, stands Donegal Castle. Red Hugh O’Donnell himself built it as his personal fortress in the fifteenth century. It is said that, leaving to seek succour in Spain in the wake of the Battle of Kinsale, Hugh determined to make sure his castle would never ever fall into English hands – by setting it on fire.
But he was to be disappointed. English captain Sir Basil Brooke became the castle’s new lord in 1616. As part of a massive programme of improvements, Brooke built a handsome manor house beside the tower. He also commissioned the magnificent chimney-piece, finely decorated with carved fruit and his own imperious coat of arms.
The building complex fell into ruin in the twentieth century, but was brought back to its former glory in the 1990s. Currently, a suite of information panels illuminates the chequered history of the castle and its disparate owners. . in:


 Another official sent from Germany but the lighthouse on the card is from Denmark. 

Christian Back
DE-9598252, sent by Anke.
Taksensand lighthouse is located on the small island of Als in Denmark.
It stands on the water´s edge and its boulder foundation looks beautiful together with the stony seach.
The lighthouse was built in 1905 and was originally 32 metres high.
In 1953 the lighthous was reduced in hight to 19 metres. - in

Friday, November 27, 2020

German Officials

 Some of the last german official cards I've received recently.

© Schöning GmbH & Co. KG 
DE-9613692, sent by Kati. 
In the vine-decked Neckar Valley, Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg. For hundreds of years until the 19th century the city was the seat of the Counts and then the Kings of Württemberg, and they left behind royal palaces for that have become government buildings and museums. - in:

DE-9602054, sent by Detlef. 
St. John's Church in Groß Eichsen, a district of Mühlen Eichsen, is one of the larger village churches in the Mecklenburg parish of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany. It is located on the northeastern edge of the village near the shore of the Groß Eichsener Lake.
Heinz Wohner
DE-9597386, sent by Holger.
The building on the card is St. Vitus' chape, part of the Pilgrimage Church of St. Marinus and Anian, in the village of Wilparting, Bavaria. The small chapel marks the place where the cell of Saints Marinus and Anianus is said to have been located.
Huber - Images / Chris Seba
DE-9611787, sent by Becky.
Hohenschwangau Castle, may be best known as the castle next to the world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle, but it has a unique and vibrant history all of its own.
Hohenschwangau had its beginnings in the 12th century as the fortress Schwanstein. The family of knights who had founded the fortress died out by the 16th century. From this time until the 19th century, the fortress changed hands numerous times and, predictably, fell into ruins.
However, in April of 1829, a young crown prince went on a walking tour and discovered the remains of this once-proud castle. This was, of course, the future King Maximillian II of Bavaria, father to Ludwig, who would be best-known for his own series of fantastical castles. Maximillian gained possession of the ruins in 1832 and one year later had set about restoring it to its former greatness.
Maximillian worked on the castle with the help of his architect, Domenico Quaglio (and others following Quaglio’s death) to bring new life to the ruin and create the glorious Hohenschwangau.
Hohenschwangau became the summer residence for the King, his wife Marie of Prussia and their two sons, Ludwig and Otto. When the king died in 1864, Ludwig took up residence in his childhood home, where he also oversaw the construction of his own castle, Neuschwanstein, just across the way.
Ludwig died mysteriously in 1886, leaving his mother Marie as the only resident in the vast palace. The Queen’s brother-in-law, Luitpold, was next to live within Hohenschwangau. After installing electricity and an elevator, he died in 1912 and one year later, Hohenschwangau became a museum open to the public.
Miraculously, it suffered no damage during either of the world wars and remains in pristine condition. Each year, more than 300,000 guests come to experience the glory and fantasy of this Bavarian masterpiece. - in: