Friday, March 31, 2023

Marvão Castle - Portugal

Marvão is one of those places that I really want to visit again. I've enough cards from there but I want to take more pictures.
These 1st two cards were bought by me and the last two have both been sent by Vitória. The last one came with a matching stamp and postmark.

The Marvão Castle is located on the highest peak of the lovely São Mamede Mountain, in the heart of the Natural Park. 
The first Portuguese king, D. Afonso Henriques, would have conquered this fortification to the Moors, around the year 1166, on the sequence of the campaign that started with the conquest of Alcácer do Sal. The most ancient date that confirms the Portuguese presence in this Castle is 1214. 

In 1271 the Castle was donated to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and already in the reign of king D. Dinis (1279 to 1325) was increased and was built the Donjon tower. Also king D. João I, after the 1385 crisis, ordered the reinforcement of the Castle’s defences and implements the region’s populating.

New conservation works took place after the restoration of the Portuguese Independence in 1640, for the artillery adaptation, and even before the end of the works, the Castle was attacked by the Spanish forces that also attacked again in 1704 and 1772. 
Already in the 19th century, during the French Invasions, this Castle got to be occupied by the French troops.
Foto: Raúl Ladeira
Classified as a National Monument, it is now in a good state of conservation. 
This Castle is a fortress town, as the settlement is surrounded by the first line of defensive walls. 
Here is also located the armoury archaeological Museum. - in:

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Fanal - Madeira Island

Last month I treveled for the 4th time to the beautiful Madeira island. One of the places I most wanted to visit was Fanal, a true enchanted forest with centenary trees. This postcard does not do justice to the beauty and magic of the place. 
It is easy to get to Fanal by car, but if you like to hike, there's a few hiking trails which offer the opportunity to contemplate this vast and rich forest are, such as PR13 Vereda do Fanal and PR14 Levada dos Cedros. I hiked the Vereda do Fanal. This trail, of medium difficulty, starts on the plateau of Paúl da Serra (Assobiadores), on Regional Road n.º 209, and ends in Fanal. It extends over 10.8 km and has an estimated duration of 4 hours.
Fotografia: Paulo
Located between the Seixal and Ribeira da Janela mountains, Fanal is a vast forest area that invites you to quietly enjoy the best that Nature has to offer.
This idyllic place is one of the most emblematic places in the municipality of Porto Moniz, housing an extremely beautiful landscape heritage.
At Fanal, the main role is undoubtedly played by the centuries-old Til (Ocotea foetens) forest - with trees that date back to a time before the discovery of the archipelago. They are part of the indigenous Laurissilva forest, which expresses itself here in an impressive state of conservation given its vitality. - in:

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Jackson Square, New Orleans - USA

Historic Jackson Square, originally known in the 18th century as "Place d'Armes," and later renamed in honor of the Battle of New Orleans hero Andrew Jackson, is a timeless attraction in the heart of the French Quarter of New Orleans.
US-9095367, sent by Sarah.
This famous landmark facing the Mississippi River is surrounded by historic buildings, including the St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere and Cabildo (Louisiana State Museums), not to mention the Lower and Upper Pontalba Apartments, the oldest apartment buildings in the United States.

Photo by Tommie Reardon
Jackson Square is a favorite site for visitors and locals. The artists, restaurants, museums, merchants and the square itself make Jackson Square one of the French Quarter's most popular destinations.: in:

 Facing Jackson Square and flanked by the historic Cabildo on one side and the equally historic Presbytere on the other, St. Louis Cathedral is among the tallest and most imposing structures in the French Quarter. And one of the most recognizable. It has been seen in hundreds of movies, TV shows and other visual presentations and it is a local and international architectural icon.
As the mother church of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, St. Louis Cathedral has a long and interesting history. It is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States, originally built in 1727 and dedicated to King Louis IX of France, “The Crusading King” who was later canonized by the Church. The original St. Louis Cathedral burned during the great fire of 1794 and was rebuilt. The present structure was completed in the 1850s.
In September 1987 the cathedral witnessed the historic visit of Pope John Paul II and the plaza directly in front of the church was renamed in the pope’s honor. Shortly afterward the status of the Cathedral was upgraded to a Basilica. - in:

Asante Traditional Buildings - Ghana

Drums please!! After years and years collecting cards from UNESCO sites, I've finally reached the impressive, at least to me, mark of 1000 UNESCO sites. To make it even more special, the card is quite unique. Is not only from a missing site but also from a rare country and written and sent from there. This is my 2nd card from Ghana but the 1st written and stamped from there. It was sent by Karolyn.
This building is Asenemaso shrine, one of the 10 Asante Traditional Buildings classified by UNESCO as WHS in 1980. 

Near Kumasi, a group of traditional buildings are the last remaining testimony of the great Asante civilization, which reached its peak in the 18th century.
Arranged around courtyards, the buildings are constructed of timber, bamboo and mud plaster and originally had thatched roofs. The unique decorative bas-reliefs that adorn the walls are bold and depict a wide variety of motifs. Common forms include spiral and arabesque details with representations of animals, birds and plants, linked to traditional “Adinkra” symbols. As with other traditional art forms of the Asante, these designs are not merely ornamental, they also have symbolic meanings, associated with the ideas and beliefs of the Asante people, and have been handed down from generation to generation.
The buildings, their rich colour, and the skill and diversity of their decorations are the last surviving examples of a significant traditional style of architecture that epitomized the influential, powerful and wealthy Asante Kingdom of the late 18th to late 19th centuries. Asante Traditional Buildings reflect and reinforce a complex and intricate technical, religious and spiritual heritage.
The traditional religion, still practiced in the Asante shrines, takes the form of consulting with the deities to seek advice on specific situations, or before an important initiative. That is why the shrines have been maintained complete with all their symbolic features. - in:

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Bhimbetka Rock Shelters - India

The Bhimbetka rock shelters are an archaeological site in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, that spans the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, as well as the historic period. 
This UNESCO site, classified since 2003, consists of seven hills and over 750 rock shelters distributed over 10 kms.
IN-510480, sent by Swami.
The rock shelters and caves provide evidence of human settlement and the cultural evolution from hunter-gatherers to agriculture, and expressions of prehistoric spirituality. 

Some of the Bhimbetka rock shelters feature prehistoric cave paintings and the earliest are about 10,000 years old, corresponding to the Indian Mesolithic.
These cave paintings show themes such as animals, early evidence of dance and hunting from the Stone Age as well as of warriors on horseback from a later time (perhaps the Bronze Age).
The Bhimbetka site has the oldest-known rock art in India, as well as is one of the largest prehistoric complexes. - in: wikipedia


I've already said a couple of times before that to me Japanese castles are all very similar and is not easy to identify them when all the info is only written in Japanese. Google images had no doubts and identify this castle as Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle, also known as Tsuruga Castle.
JP-1839085, sent by Kohei.
Renowned as an impregnable fortress, it lasted for one month against a fierce enemy siege during a civil war at the end of the Edo period (1868-1869). In 1874, at the end of the samurai era, it was torn down, leaving only the stone walls. 
In response to citizen's wishes, it was later rebuilt in 1965. In 2011, it underwent major refurbishment with its roof tiles replaced with red-colored tiles and was restored to its former glory. 
Now, as a scenic site for cherry blossoms in spring and foliage in autumn, it offers visitors a place of rest and is a center of Aizu tourism. - in:

Monday, March 13, 2023

Charles Bridge - Prague

"Charles Bridge is a famous historical bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague.

Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of 15th century. As the only means of crossing the river Vltava (Moldau), the Charles Bridge used to be the most important connection between the Old Town, Prague Castle and adjacent areas until 1841. Also this 'solid-land' connection made Prague important as a trade route between east and west Europe. The bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or the Prague Bridge (Pražský most) but has been the "Charles Bridge" since 1870.

 The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side. The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. - in: wikipedia

The bridge features 30 saintly Baroque statues, mostly made of sandstone and added in the 18th century.

The first statue to be erected on the Charles Bridge is made of bronze. This is the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, the patron saint of Bohemia. According to legend John of Nepomuk refused to reveal the confessions of the wife of King Wenceslas IV, and was thrown off the side of the bridge to his death. On that same night, five stars appeared in the sky above the place of his death, which is why there is always a five-starred halo above any statue of St. John of Nepomuk.

Most of the statues you see today are replicas, as some of the originals have been swept away by the river, or have been severely weathered by the elements. The original statues are now housed in the Lapidary in the National Museum. - in:

Park Mużakowski / Muskau Park

Muskau Park / Park Mużakowski  is a landscape park in the Upper Lusatia region of Germany and Poland, stretching along both sides of Neisse river. It is the largest and one of the most famous English gardens in Central Europe.
On July 2, 2004, the UNESCO inscribed the park on the World Heritage List, as an exemplary example of cross-border cultural collaboration between Poland and Germany.

Its history reaches back to the beginning of the 19th century when prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau inherited a vast estate at Muskau, a small town in Upper Lusatia. At that time the entire estate was in Germany. He took advantage of existing topography and laid out an English-style park here which manifests a harmony between man and nature. 
In 1945, as a result of the Potsdam Conference, the park has been divided by the state border between Poland and Germany.

The total area covers approximately 728 hectares. Two thirds of the Muzakowski Park lies on the Polish side and only one third in Germany. Both parts are connected by the Double Bridge where you can cross the border. Most of the buildings including residential complex you will find on German side. Polish side is wilder and provides magnificent views. - in:
 Photo by Tomasz
PL-1895286, sent by Monika
Neues Schloss / New Palace, was built in the 19th century in Neo-Renaissance style, burnt down in 1945, and after decades as a ruin, was reconstructed until 2013. 

Thursday, March 9, 2023

RU-9526169 & RU-9527669

Constantine and Anna have sent me cards of churches in Zvenigorod and Kapustino, both in Moscow region.


RU-9526169 sent by Constantine.
The Dormition Cathedral was built on the orders of Prince Yury of Zvenigorod approximately between 1396 and 1399, making it one of the oldest buildings in the Moscow Region. The white-stone building takes the form of a cross-in-square with four pillars, a design typical for the era. It is topped with a single black dome. - in:

RU-9527669, sent by Anna.
The Church of St. George is a parish church of the Russian Orthodox Church in the village of Kapustino, built in 1889.


I love it when I get postcards that I'm still missing in my collections. The Happy Postcrossing has now a new addition, Finland.
FI-4339920, sent by Tiina.
I've already seen the Cathedral of Helsinki but I've yet to see everything else, the seals, the reindeer, picking mushrooms, the lakes and especially the aurora borealis.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Akershus Castle - Norway

My friend Anne has finally started to travel again after the forced breake due to covid. I think that now that she's back to airports and planes, she'll travel again soon. I don't know where she'll go next but I know where she has been to last month. She visited Oslo and sent me this nice card of the Akershus Castle, which I've never heard about before.

Foto: iStock / Tomas Sereda
The Akershus Fortress was built in the late 1290s by King Håkon V to ward off attacks from the Norwegian nobleman, Earl Alv Erlingsson of Sarpsborg. The fortress’s value came from its strategic location near the sea, and it has survived numerous sieges, never being captured in active battle. However, during the Second World War, occupying German forces captured the fortress (without a fight) and used it as a prison and execution center.
However Akershus Castle was used as a prison prior to WWII too. It housed many famous prisoners, including early Norwegian socialists.
The fortress houses a castle, church, the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum, a model of Christiania (Oslo’s former name), and a prison museum. In addition, many members of the Norwegian royal family are buried in the castle’s mausoleum.
The Akershus fortress has the status of a national symbol because of its role as seat of the king and government and the many important and dramatic historical events that have taken place here. The national importance is underlined by the fact that the castle now used as government's premier entertainment venues and hosts the Royal Mausoleum. - in:

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Groningen - Netherlands

I've been twice to the Netherlands but Groningen was never part of my plans and to be honest, didn't know much about the city. These cards gave me an excuse to learn a bit about it. 

Groningen, capital of the eponymous province in the northern part of Holland, is a lively city that has much to offer in terms of culture and events, beautiful historic monuments like the Martini Tower, great shopping districts for a wonderful shopping spree, and excellent restaurants. - in

NL-4865312, sent by Simone. 
On this view of the city center there's a building that stands out. With its austere silhouette, the 45-metre high distinctive Forum with ten floors and a roof garden has become a permanent part of the city skyline. Forum focuses on amazing and inspiring people through Storyworld, 5 cinemas, the Smartlab, cafés and restaurants, the city library and the highest terrace in Groningen with a phenomenal view and a rooftop cinema. - in:
The Forum terrace may offer great views of the city but I'd rather climb the 260 steps of the Martinitoren, on the right side of the card.
NL-5415047, sent by Jolanda.
The Martinitoren, St. Martin's Tower is the bell tower of the Martinikerk and the tallest church steeple in the city of Groningen.
The tower is located at the north-eastern corner of the Grote Markt, Main Market Square. It contains a brick spiral staircase consisting of 260 steps, and the carillon within the tower contains 62 bells. There is a bullet hole in one of the bells, a result of heavy fighting when the Canadian Forces liberated Groningen at the end of World War II. 
It was built between 1469 and 1482 from blocks of Bentheimer sandstone. Its architecture was influenced by the Dom Tower of Utrecht. 
Initially, the tower would have been 102 meters high, but in 1577, the fireworks launched in the third gallery to celebrate the departure of troops from Spain and Wallonia, caused the tower to partially collapse. However, the rest maintained a height of 69 meters. In the 17th century, the tower was repaired to its current height of 97 meters. 
Despite lightning, fires and wars, the tower has endured and is one of Groningen's top tourist attractions and offers views over the city and surrounding area.

Greetsiel Windmills - Germany

 When we swapped for the 1st time, Erika sent me a card of the twin mills of Greetsiel and now she sent me another one, the snowy view that I had in my favorites.
  Foto: SKN Druck und Verlag / Tebben-Willgrubs
 Greetsiel is a small port on the bight of Leybucht in western East Frisia.
These are two Dutch windmills. The green western mill dates from 1856, the red eastern mill (Schoof's mill) was built in 1706 and can be visited.

More German windmills

Because of the simple principles of windmills operation, over the last one thousand years, windmills became commonly made all around the world.
Modern windmills as we know them today started first appearing around 8th and 9th century in middle east and Western Asia. Initially popularized by Muslims, windmills soon arrived in India, China and Europe, where they went through several cycles of incredible innovation. Two countries that were home of the most wind mills were England and Netherlands, but many other European countries also adopted windmills and their usefulness. - in:

© Schöning GmbH & Co. KG 
All these mills, the 25 on this first card and the other two, are all from northern Germany. Erika offered to swap again and she sent me wonderful cards.

The predecessor of today's "Sterrenberg" windmill in Upgant-Schott, in Lower Saxony, dates back to 1569. It was a post windmill that stood until 1880 and was demolished after today's mill was completed. The three-storey Dutch mill, which was then still thatched, burned down to the stump in 1934, but was rebuilt in the same year. In 1991 the mill was shut down. The Upgant-Schott mill association and the last master miller, August Brüderle, ensured that the mill was renovated and is open to visitors today. 
The only Dutch windmill on the island of Usedom is in Benz; it was built in 1863. The mill has become known beyond national borders as a motif by the German-American artist Lyonel Feininger. 
It was in operation until 1971 and then the painter Otto Niemeyer-Holstein acquired it. Since December 2002 the mill blades have been turning again.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Maria Laach Abbey - Germany

Maria Laach Abbey is a Benedictine abbey situated on the southwestern shore of the Laacher See (Lake Laach), near Andernach, in the Eifel region of the Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany.

The monastery was founded by the Count Palatine Heinrich II von Laach and his wife Adelheid von Weimar-Orlamunde in 1093. However, the construction, dragging on, was completed only by 1216. The modern name was given to the cathedral in 1863.

DE-12662643, sent by Nobi.
The six-tower cathedral includes a vaulted basilica with a cozy inner garden, a western portal (the so-called paradis), a cloister of the early 13th century. The cloister, restored in 1859, is the most beautiful monument of Romanesque architecture from the era of the Salic dynasty. In 1926, Pope Pius XI awarded the temple the title of Basilica Minor.

Today the abbey and its surroundings, including agricultural land, Lake Laach with tourist services, a hotel on the lakeside, craft workshops with the possibility of training those who wish, a small zoo, a garden, a publishing house with a bookstore, belongs to the Benedictine order.
Cathedral of Mary Laach – the best-preserved Romanesque building in Germany, it has hardly undergone any reconstruction or restoration. Despite its age, the building looks organic. The basilica with columns, three naves, two choirs, two transepts is crowned with six towers. The cathedral was built piece by piece over several centuries: the eastern part was completed by 1177, the western – by 1230. The outer walls of the cathedral were decorated with shoulder blades, reliefs with images of mythological heroes and floral ornaments. - in: