четверг, 29 января 2009 г.

Postcards from Canada

Canada is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's second largest country by total area, and shares land borders with the United States to the south and northwest.

The American Beaver (Castor canadensis) is a large semi-aquatic rodent native to Canada, much of the United States, and parts of northern Mexico. It was introduced in the most southern province of Argentina, Tierra del Fuego, and it adapted to its temperate forests many years ago. Common names include North American Beaver, or simply Beaver in North America, as well as its subspecies names, the most common being the Canadian Beaver.

Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. The lake is bounded on the north by the Canadian province of Ontario and on the south by Ontario's Niagara Peninsula and by the U.S. state of New York. It is the smallest of the Great Lakes and the only one that does not border with Michigan.
The lake's name is derived from ontarí:io, a Huron word meaning "great lake". The Canadian province of Ontario was later named after the lake.

The lake was previously identified in some maps under different names. In a map drawn in the Relation des Jésuites (1662-1663), the lake has the legend "Lac Ontario ou des Iroquois" and in smaller type "Ondiara". A French map produced in 1712 (currently in the Canadian), created by military engineer Jean-Baptiste de Couagne, identified Lake Ontario as "Lac Frontenac". Iroquois people called the lake "Skanadario."

American Beaver

Cover and postcards from Poland

Tarnobrzeg is a town in south-eastern Poland, on the east bank of the river Vistula, with 49,753 inhabitants, as of 30.06.2008. Situated in the Subcarpathian Voivodeship (Polish: Województwo Podkarpackie) since 1999, it had previously been the capital of Tarnobrzeg Voivodeship (1975–1998).

Thank you Kazimierz!

Info Wikipedia

среда, 28 января 2009 г.

Cover and postcards from Romania

Romania is a country located in South-East Central Europe, North of the Balkan Peninsula, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea.[2] Almost all of the Danube Delta is located within its territory. It shares a border with Hungary and Serbia to the west, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova to the northeast, and Bulgaria to the south.

Bacău is the main city in Bacău County, Romania. It covers a land surface of 41km² and has an estimated population of 175,921 The city is situated in the historical region of Moldavia, at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, and on the Bistriţa River (which meets the Siret River about 8 kilometres (5 miles) to the south of Bacău). The Ghimeş Pass links Bacău to Transylvania.

Constanţa is the oldest living city in Romania, founded around 600 BC. The city is located on the Black Sea coast. Constanta is part of the groups of four equal size cities which ranks after Bucharest, Romania's capital, Timisoara, Cluj Napoca and Iasi, none of this four cities exceeds 315,000 inhabitants. The Constanţa metropolitan area was founded in 2007 and comprises 14 localities located at a maximum distance of 30 km from the city and, with 550,000 inhabitants, is the second largest urban area in Romania, after Bucharest.

Port of Constanţa has an area of 39.26 km² and a length of about 30 km, is the biggest on the Black Sea and one of the largest in Europe.

Info Romania
Info Bacău
Info Constanţa

Postcard from Great Britain

Pierre Auguste Renoir
The Bridgeman Art Library, London

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (February 25, 1841–December 3, 1919) was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. As a celebrator of beauty, and especially feminine sensuality, it has been said that "Renoir is the final representative of a tradition which runs directly from Rubens to Watteau".

Info Wikipedia

Postcard from Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands is a country in Melanesia, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. Together they cover a land mass of 28,400 square kilometres (10,965 sq mi). The capital is Honiara, located on the island of Guadalcanal.

Info Wikipedia

The Solomon Islands are believed to have been inhabited by Melanesian people for thousands of years. The United Kingdom established a protectorate over the Solomon Islands in the 1890s. Some of the most bitter fighting of World War II occurred in the Solomon Islands campaign of 1942–45, including the Battle of Guadalcanal. Self-government was achieved in 1976 and independence two years later. The country is a Commonwealth realm.

Since 1998 ethnic violence, government misconduct and crime have undermined stability and civil society. In June 2003 (following the Invasion of Iraq) an Australian-led "multinational" force, the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), arrived to restore peace and disarm ethnic militias.

The North Solomon Islands are divided between the independent Solomon Islands and Bougainville Province in Papua New Guinea.

Postcard from Saint Petersburg, Russia

The University Embankment in Saint Petersburg. Sphinx at the landing pier near the Academy of Arts.

A sphinx is a zoomorphic mythological figure which is depicted as a recumbent lion with a human head. It has its origins in sculpted figures of Old Kingdom Egypt, to which the ancient Greeks applied their own name for a female monster, the "strangler", an archaic figure of Greek mythology. Similar creatures appear throughout South and South-East Asia, and the sphinx enjoyed a major revival in European decorative art from the Renaissance onwards.

Sphynx was brought to Saint-Petersburg by A. N. Muravyov who made a pilgrimage to Sacred lands in 1830. He didn't found a ship to Syria in Constantinople so he used ship to Egypt in spite of that travel to Egypt was not in his shedule. Muravyov found the first Sphynx just fetched from the Nile river waters and brought for the selling in Alexandria.

Info Wikipedia

вторник, 27 января 2009 г.

Postcard from Danmark

Denmark is a country in the Scandinavian region of northern Europe and a constituent country (alongside Greenland and the Faroe Islands) of the Kingdom of Denmark. It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries. The mainland is bordered to the south by Germany; Denmark is southwest of Sweden and south of Norway. Denmark borders both the Baltic and the North Sea. The country consists of a large peninsula, Jutland (Jylland) and many islands, most notably Zealand (Sjælland), Funen (Fyn), Vendsyssel-Thy, Lolland, Falster and Bornholm as well as hundreds of minor islands often referred to as the Danish Archipelago. Denmark has long controlled the approach to the Baltic Sea, and these waters are also known as the Danish straits. The Faroe Islands and Greenland are equal countries with Denmark within the Kingdom, but are not members of the European Union.

Info Wikipedia

New stamps

From 28th January 2009 new set of stamps devoted to 175th anniversary of V.G. Perov (1834—1882) is available.

Self-Portrait. 1851. Oil on canvas. The Museum of Russian Art, Kiev, Ukraine.

Tea-Party at Mytishchi near Moscow. 1862. Oil on canvas, 43.5x47.3 cm. The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

Vasily Grigorevich Perov (real name Vasily Grigorevich Kridener) (January 2, 1834 (December 21 1833 Old Style) - June 10 (May 29 Old Style) 1882) was a Russian painter and one of the founding members of Peredvizhniki, a group of Russian realist painters.

Vasily Perov was born January 2, 1834 (December 21 1833 Old Style) in Tobolsk, being the illegitimare son of procurator, baron Grigory Karlovich Kridener. After completing a course at Arzamas uezd school, he was transferred to the Alexander Stupin art school also located in Arzamas. In 1853 he was admitted to the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he learned from several renowned artists.

In 1856 he was awarded with a minor silver medal for his sketch of a boy's head, presented to the Imperial Academy of Arts. Later the Academy awarded him many other awards: in 1857 a major silver medal for Commissary of Rural Police Investigating, a minor golden medal for the Scene on a Grave and the Son of a dyak promoted to first rank, in 1861 a major golden medal for Sermon in a Village.

After receiving the right to a state-paid trip abroad together with a golden medal, in 1862 Perov went to Western Europe, visiting several German cities, and then Paris. During this time he created paintings depicting scenes from European street life such as the Vendor of statuettes, the Savoyard, the Organ-Grinder in Paris, the Musicians and the Bystanders, the Paris Ragpickers.

Returning to Moscow early, from 1865 to 1871 Perov created his masterpieces The Queue at The Fountain, A Meal in the Monastery, Last Journey, Troika, the Lent Monday, Arrival of a New Governess in a Merchant House, the Drawing Teacher, A Scene at the Railroad, the Last Tavern at Town Gate, the Birdcatcher, the Fisherman, the Hunters at Rest.

In 1866 he received the title of an academician, and in 1871 the position of a Professor at Moscow School of Arts, Sculpture and Architecture. It was around this period that he joined the Peredvizhniki.

Info from:
Olga's Gallery

понедельник, 26 января 2009 г.

воскресенье, 25 января 2009 г.

Postcard from San Marino

The Most Serene Republic of San Marino is a country in the Apennine Mountains. It is a landlocked enclave, completely surrounded by Italy. One of the European microstates, San Marino has the smallest population of all the members of the Council of Europe.

San Marino is the oldest sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world, having been founded on 3 September 301 by Marinus of Rab, a Christian stonemason fleeing the religious persecution of Roman Emperor Diocletian. San Marino's constitution of 1600 is the world's oldest constitution still in effect.

Info from Wikipedia

суббота, 24 января 2009 г.

Postcard from France

Mona Lisa (also known as La Gioconda) is a 16th century portrait painted in oil on a poplar panel by Leonardo da Vinci during the Italian Renaissance. The work is owned by the French government and is on the wall in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France with the title Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo.

The painting is a half-length portrait and depicts a woman whose expression is often described as enigmatic. The ambiguity of the sitter's expression, the monumentality of the half-figure composition, and the subtle modeling of forms and atmospheric illusionism were novel qualities that have contributed to the painting's continuing fascination. Few other works of art have been subject to as much scrutiny, study, mythologizing and parody.

BBC made the film "Leonardo: The Secret Life of the Mona Lisa" in 2003.

Could this be the secret of her smile?

Five hundred years after Leonardo painted the most famous picture in Western art, new research suggests that his model may have been an expectant mother - and that he painted her for precisely that reason. By Nick Rossiter
Last Updated: 7:51PM BST 06 Apr 2003

Leonardo's La Gioconda, or 'the smiling one' (left), and The Great Lady, his anatomical sketch which has a strong connection to the Mona Lisa

On June 23, 1852, a young French artist, Luc Maspero, threw himself from the fourth floor window of his Paris hotel. In a final letter, he wrote: "For years I have grappled desperately with her smile. I prefer to die."

Over the past five centuries, that smile has been exploited and replicated in so many forms that the Mona Lisa has been transformed from a mere masterpiece into an international celebrity. And, like a Hollywood star, she now has to have her own bodyguards and lives behind triplex bullet-proof glass in a humidified, air-conditioned environment.

Aside from the riddle of the smile, it's the mystery of Mona Lisa's identity that has inspired amateur art detectives all over the world. After centuries of uncertainty, a vitally important document has recently come to light in the Milan State Archive. It's a probate document listing the possessions of Leonardo's life-long companion, Salai, "the little devil", who was murdered in 1525. It includes a painting valued at 505 lire, which was a small fortune in those days. So it must have been a masterpiece, almost certainly left to Salai by Leonardo himself.

It's called La Gioconda, which means "the smiling one", but it's also a pun on the married name of a Florentine woman called Lisa Gherardini. She was the third wife of a prosperous silk merchant, Francesco del Gioconda, and they almost certainly met Leonardo through their patronage of Santa Annunziata, the local Servite monastery.

However, as a portrait, Mona Lisa is a puzzle and quite unlike any other picture of the time. In the materialistic culture of early-16th-century Florence, portraits weren't an expression of individuality and character, they were an advert for wealth and social status. But far from being the height of fashion, Mona Lisa's dress is utterly plain and timeless and, despite the fact that she is a married woman, she wears no jewellery, not even a wedding ring.

In an age when women were expected to be chaste and virtuous, Lisa's hair, sensually draped over her shoulders, would have been seen as implying loose morals. And then there's her gaze. Instead of modestly averting her eyes, she looks directly out towards us with the knowing air of someone who, much to our irritation, knows something we do not.

The mystery deepens when we learn that Leonardo never delivered the portrait. Instead, he continued to work on it for many years and kept the Mona Lisa by his side until his death on May 2, 1519.

Rona Goffen, professor of art history at Ruttgers University, argues that although Mona Lisa began as a portrait, at some point its purpose changed: "She became something entirely different. It was intensely personal to Leonardo, something that he would develop over the years entirely for himself."

If Mona Lisa is not a portrait, then what is it? Perhaps more than any other painter, Leonardo's art is imbued with his scientific observations. While painting the Mona Lisa during the day, Leonardo would spend the nights at the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence, dissecting corpses. His ambition was to discover the very source of life itself.

Professor Martin Kemp, widely regarded as the world's leading authority on Leonardo, believes there's a strong connection between Mona Lisa and a remarkable physiological drawing of a woman in the Royal Collection at Windsor, called The Great Lady. He describes it as like an x-ray of the Mona Lisa herself: "If you think that Leonardo, in a sense, saw this inside her body, then you suddenly realise, wow, that is how Leonardo looked at it. He thinks he's really getting to the mystery of life, the cyclical nature of birth, maturity and death."

As part of his anatomical investigations, Leonardo made the very first drawing of a foetus in the womb. He also set out to challenge the contemporary belief that men alone were responsible for procreation. He observed that the man's role was quick and easy, whereas the woman's was complex and full of mystery, and concluded that the female "seed", or egg, contributed equally to the formation of the embryonic child.

Sherwin Nuland, a professor of surgery at Yale and an expert on Leonardo's anatomical studies, argues that the Mona Lisa symbolises the female role in procreation and that her expectant condition is evident in the painting. "She's supposed to be a relatively young woman in her early twenties. If you look at her hands, there's no question that she has swollen fingers," he says. "There's no question that she's holding her hands in the particular attitude that we're accustomed to seeing on the upper abdomens of women far advanced in pregnancy."

But what was it about his sitter, Lisa del Gioconda, that could have inspired Leonardo to transform her into a universal symbol of motherhood and fertility? It is generally thought that Leonardo painted his portrait in 1502 or 1503, and the recent discovery of baptism records reveals that Lisa gave birth to her second child in December 1502. As Martin Kemp explains: "The occasion for a portrait was invariably triggered by a significant event. It may well be quite prosaic that this painting was to celebrate her pregnancy. I am broadly sympathetic to the idea that [the Mona Lisa] is bearing life within her."

The life cycle and the female role in creation is still only half the story of the Mona Lisa. The other half, often overlooked, is the primeval landscape in front of which she is sitting. Most people assume that this was a product of Leonardo's fertile imagination, but there's increasing evidence it was inspired by the landscape of his childhood, the Arno Valley. On the right side of Mona Lisa's elbow, there's a bridge that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Buriano bridge which crosses the Arno river near Arezzo. And just a few miles up the road is another remarkable connection with the Mona Lisa that locals call: "The Valley of Hell". It's a series of dramatic rock outcrops rising hundreds of feet into the air, not unlike the great pinnacles to be found in Monument Valley, Arizona.

So what is going on here? According to geologist Dr Cherry Lewis, the Mona Lisa corresponds closely to Leonardo's theory of creation, which challenged the biblical story of Genesis, and represents an ancient, geological vision of how the Arno Valley once looked. The two great lakes, the river flowing from the mountains cutting its way through the valley and making its way to the sea in a grand, continuous, hydrological cycle all match Leonardo's observations about how the landscape we see today was shaped by the power of water. Many regard him as the father of geology as a modern science.

The Mona Lisa therefore provides us with a snapshot of the mature Leonardo's mind. In part it's a psychological portrait but it's also a world view that connects human beings and the natural world with the mysterious female at the centre of creation. It is a distillation of all that he had discovered through a lifetime's observation into the secrets of nature.( Info from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/3592403/Could-this-be-the-secret-of-her-smile.html)

Leonardo da Vinci
The Mona Lisa
The Mona Lisa in details
The Mona Lisa BBC article

Postcard from Netherlands

The painting Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer's masterworks and as the name implies, uses a pearl earring for a focal point. The painting is currently housed at The Mauritshuis in The Hague. It is sometimes referred to as "the Mona Lisa of the North" or "the Dutch Mona Lisa".

Girl with a Pearl Earring is a 1999 historical novel written by Tracy Chevalier. It takes place in Delft, Holland and was inspired by Vermeer's painting Girl with a Pearl Earring. It fictionalizes the circumstances under which the painting was created. It was adapted into a 2003 film of the same name and a 2008 play of the same name.

Girl with a Pearl Earring is a 2003 United Kingdom/Luxembourg drama film directed by Peter Webber. The screenplay was adapted by screenwriter Olivia Hetreed based on the novel by Tracy Chevalier. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson and Cillian Murphy. The film is named after a painting of the same name by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.

Johannes Vermeer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Vermeer
Girl with a Pearl Earring (novel) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girl_with_a_Pearl_Earring_(novel)
Girl with a Pearl Earring (film) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girl_with_a_Pearl_Earring_(film)

пятница, 23 января 2009 г.

Postcard from Arkhangelsk, Russia

Arkhangelsk, formerly called Archangel in English, is a city and the administrative center of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia. It lies on both banks of the Northern Dvina river near its exit into the White Sea in the far north of European Russia. City districts spread for over 40 kilometers (25 mi) along the banks of the river and numerous islands of its delta. Arkhangelsk was the chief seaport of medieval Russia. It is served by Talagi Airport and the smaller Vaskovo Airport. The city is located at the very end of the 1,133 km (704 mi) long railroad, connecting it to Moscow via Vologda and Yaroslavl.

четверг, 22 января 2009 г.

Postcard from Hungary

The history of today's Zsolnay Factory reaches back to the year 1853, when Miklós Zsolnay established the first manufacture of ceramics for his son Ignác. Ten years later, Vilmos Zsolnay, the younger brother of Ignác, took over the management and within a short period of time developed the small plant into a factory standard. The factory's first major success was reached at the 1873 World Exhibition in Vienna. On the basis of its displays, the factory received a great number of orders from England, France, Russia, and even from America.

The success achieved during the 1878 World Exhibition in Paris was tremendous. The jury praised the Zsolnay collection as being unique and gave it the gold medal, the so-called Grand Prix. At the same time, Vilmos Zsolnay was made a member of the Legion of Honour. The next steps in this series of successes were Melbourne in 1880, Brussels (1888), Chicago (1893) and Antwerp (1894). At the exhibition organized in 1896, on the occasion of the millenium of the Hungarian Kingdom, the factory introduced its most beautiful pieces, made of eosin. The emperor awarded the Franz Joseph Order to Vilmos Zsolnay, and the city of Pécs gave him the title of Honorary Town Citizen.

After Vilmos Zsolnay's death, in 1900, his son Miklós took over the management of the factory, which by then had already become world-famous. During this time, the new style, the so-called Art Nouveau, was prevailing in decorative art productions. In the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and in other neighboring countries, no competitors could be found for the frost-resistant Zsolnay building decorations. Vilmos Zsolnay's great merit was his invention of several new technologies for the production of ceramics. In the course of his experiments, he developed a base material and glazes that yielded a quality equal to porcelain painting, but which at the same time allowed a much richer use of colours. His technique of firing glazes at high temperatures remains unique even today. The name Zsolnay has brought world fame to his family as well as to his factory. However, numerous difficulties and enormous efforts also accompanied the glorious past. Two world wars, the loss of material source, the collapse of markets and changes in international as well as in domestic politics all influenced the life of the factory, at times even endangering its further existence. Today, the Zsolnay porcelain Factory holds on to its great traditions, while at the same time stressing the importance of a continuous renewal.

From the 1950s onward, as the political and cultural atmosphere in Hungary became more open, the Zsolnay factory permitted designers to produce work that explored modern abstraction. Guest artists like Victor Vasarely and Eva Zeisel conceived beautiful pieces that revived earlier Zsolnay organic shapes and metallic glazes. Other designers revitalized the manufactory's architectural ceramic output, referring to the tradition of producing vividly colored weather-resistant tiles and ornamentation, examples of which can still been seen on buildings throughout Hungary, Today Zsolnay continues to create original designs along with new editions of past products that celebrate the manufactory's technical and stylistic achievements. present alike.

Info from http://www.zsolnay.com/history.htm

среда, 21 января 2009 г.

Postcard from Kazan, Russia

Kazan is the capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, and one of Russia's largest cities. It is a major industrial, commercial and cultural center, and remains the most important center of Tatar culture. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in central European Russia.
The Kazan Kremlin is the chief historic citadel of Tatarstan, situated in the city of Kazan. It was built on behest of Ivan the Terrible on the ruins of the former castle of Kazan khans. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000.


Postcard from France

Ancient Egyptian art refers to the style of painting, sculpture, crafts and architecture developed by the civilization in the lower Nile Valley from 5000 BC to 300 AD. Ancient Egyptian art as expression in painting and sculpture was both highly stylized and symbolic. Much of the surviving art comes from tombs and monuments and thus there is an emphasis on life after death and the preservation of knowledge of the past.

In a more narrow sense, Ancient Egyptian art refers to the canonical 2nd and 3rd Dynasty art developed in Egypt from 3000 BC and used until the 3rd century. Most elements of Egyptian art remained remarkably stable over that 3000 year period. There wasn't strong outside influence. The same basic conventions and quality of observation started at a high level and remained near that level over the period.

Info from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_ancient_Egypt

Postcard from France

Delftware, or Delft pottery, denotes blue and white pottery made in and around Delft in the Netherlands and the tin-glazed pottery made in the Netherlands from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

Delftware in the latter sense is a type of pottery in which a white glaze is applied, usually decorated with metal oxides. Delftware includes pottery objects of all descriptions such as plates, ornaments and tiles.

The earliest tin-glazed pottery in the Netherlands was made in Antwerp by Guido da Savino in 1512. The manufacture of painted pottery may have spread from the south to the northern Netherlands sometime during the 1560s. It was made in Middelburg and Haarlem in the 1570s and in Amsterdam in the 1580s. Much of the finer work was produced in Delft, but simple everyday tin-glazed pottery was made in places such as Gouda, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Dordrecht.

Info from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delftware

вторник, 20 января 2009 г.

Postcard from Eniseisk, Russia

Art card with reproduction van Gogh.
"Portrait of Doctor Felix Rey"
Oil on canvas
64.0 x 53.0 cm.
Arles: January, 1889
F 500, JH 1659
Moscow: Pushkin Museum

Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist artist. Some of his paintings are now among the world's best known, most popular and expensive works of art.

Van Gogh spent his early adult life working for a firm of art dealers. After a brief spell as a teacher, he became a missionary worker in a very poor mining region. He did not embark upon a career as an artist until 1880. Initially, Van Gogh worked only with sombre colours, until he encountered Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism in Paris. He incorporated their brighter colours and style of painting into a uniquely recognizable style, which was fully developed during the time he spent at Arles, France. He produced more than 2,000 works, including around 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches, during the last ten years of his life. Most of his best-known works were produced in the final two years of his life, during which time he cut off part of his left ear following a breakdown in his friendship with Paul Gauguin. After this he suffered recurrent bouts of mental illness, which led to his suicide.

The central figure in Van Gogh's life was his brother Theo, who continually and selflessly provided financial support. Their lifelong friendship is documented in numerous letters they exchanged from August 1872 onwards. Van Gogh is a pioneer of what came to be known as Expressionism. He had an enormous influence on 20th century art, especially on the Fauves and German Expressionists.

Info from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_van_Gogh, http://www.vggallery.com/painting/p_0500.htm

"On Baikal". Postcard from Angarsk, Russia

Lake Baikal is in Southern Siberia in Russia, located between Irkutsk Oblast to the northwest and the Buryat Republic to the southeast, near the city of Irkutsk. It is also known as the "Blue Eye of Siberia". It contains more water than all the North American Great Lakes combined.

At 1,637 meters (5,371 ft), Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world and the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume. However, Lake Baikal contains less than one third the amount of water as the Caspian Sea which is the largest lake in the world. Like Lake Tanganyika, Lake Baikal was formed in an ancient rift valley and therefore is long and crescent-shaped with a surface area (31,494 km²), less than that of Lake Superior or Lake Victoria. Baikal is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, two thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. At more than 25 million years old, it is the oldest lake in the world.

A Russian mini-submarine attempting to set a record for the deepest freshwater dive on July 29, 2008 was originally reported as being successful, but a correction later emerged that reported the MIR I failed to do so, reaching a depth of only 1,580 meters.

Info from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Baikal

Postcard from Lithuania

Thank you Jolanta!

Postcard from Tambov, Russia

Art card with reproduction Patricia Couton

Cover from Lithuania

Russian stamp

New joint Russian-Cuban stamp edition are available since 19th January 2009.

Postcards from Lithuania

The Hill of Crosses is a site of pilgrimage about 12 km north of the city of Šiauliai, in northern Lithuania. The exact origins are unknown, but it is considered that the first crosses were placed on the former Jurgaičiai or Domantai hill fort after the 1831 Uprising. Over the centuries, not only crosses, but giant crucifixes, carvings of Lithuanian patriots, statues of the Virgin Mary and thousands of tiny effigies and rosaries have been brought here by Catholic pilgrims. The number of crosses is unknown, but estimates put it at about 50,000.
Over the centuries, the place has come to signify the peaceful endurance of Lithuanian Catholicism despite the threats it faced throughout history. After the 3rd partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795, Lithuania became part of the Russian Empire. Poles and Lithuanians unsuccessfully rebelled against Russian authorities in 1831 and 1863. These two uprisings are connected with the beginnings of the hill: as families could not locate bodies of perished rebels, they started putting up symbolic crosses in place of a former hill fort.
When the old political structure of Eastern Europe fell apart in 1918, Lithuania once again declared its independence. Throughout this time, the Hill of Crosses was used as a place for Lithuanians to pray for peace, for their country, and for the loved ones they had lost during the Wars of Independence.
Most recently, the site took on a special significance during the years 1944-1990, when Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union. Continuing to travel to the Hill and leave their tributes, Lithuanians used it to demonstrate their allegiance to their original identity, religion and heritage. It was a venue of peaceful resistance, although the Soviets worked hard to remove new crosses, and bulldozed the site at least three times (including attempts in 1963 and 1973). There were even rumors that the authorities planned to build a dam on the nearby Kulvė River, a tributary to Mūša, so that the hill would end up under water.
On September 7, 1993, Pope John Paul II visited the Hill of Crosses, declaring it a place for hope, peace, love and sacrifice. In 2000 Franciscan Hermitage was opened nearby. The interior decoration draws links with La Verna, the mountain where St. Francis received his stigmata. The hill remains under nobody's jurisdiction; therefore people are free to build crosses as they see fit.

понедельник, 19 января 2009 г.

Postcard from Republica Dominicana

The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island Hispaniola is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are occupied by two countries, Saint Martin being the other. Its size is 48,700 km² with an estimated population of almost 10,000,000.

Postcard from Thailand

The Kingdom of Thailand is an independent country that lies in the heart of Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Laos and Myanmar, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and Myanmar. By the maritime boundary, the country is bordered to the southeast by Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand, to the southwest by Indonesia and India in the Andaman Sea.

The capital and largest city of Thailand is Bangkok. It is also the country's center of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities. Bangkok is known in Thai as "Krung Thep Mahanakorn," or, more colloquially, "Krung Thep."

Info from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand#Culture

Postcard from Lithuania

Vilnius is the largest city and the capital of Lithuania, with a population of 555,613 (847,954 together with Vilnius County) as of 2008. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County. Currently Vilnius is the European Capital of Culture.
Vilnius is a cosmopolitan city with diverse architecture. There are more than 40 churches in Vilnius.
Aušros Vartai Street. The icon of The Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy is venerated in a chapel at the medieval gate at the top of this street.

Like most medieval towns, Vilnius was developed around its Town Hall. The main artery, Pilies Street, links the Royal Palace with Town Hall. Other streets meander through the palaces of feudal lords and landlords, churches, shops and craftsmen's workrooms. Narrow, curved streets and intimate courtyards developed in the radial layout of medieval Vilnius. Vilnius Old Town, the historical centre of Vilnius, is one of the largest in Europe (3.6 km²). The most valuable historic and cultural sites are concentrated here. The buildings in the old town — there are nearly 1,500 — were built over several centuries, creating a blend of many different architectural styles. Although Vilnius is known as a Baroque city, there are examples of Gothic (e.g. St Anne's Church), Renaissance, and other styles. Their combination is also a gateway to the historic centre of the capital. Owing to its uniqueness, the Old Town of Vilnius was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. In 1995, the first bronze cast of Frank Zappa in the world was installed near the center of Vilnius with the permission of the government.
The flag of Vilnius

The Vilnius Castle Complex, a group of defensive, cultural, and religious buildings that includes Gediminas Tower, Cathedral Square, the Royal Palace of Lithuania, and the remains of several medieval castles, is part of the National Museum of Lithuania. Lithuania's largest art collection is housed in the Lithuanian Art Museum. The House of the Signatories, where the 1918 Act of Independence of Lithuania was signed, is now a historic landmark.

The Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, named for the author of the first book printed in the Lithuanian language, holds 6,912,266 physical items.

On 2007 November 10 the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center was opened by avant-garde film-maker Jonas Mekas. Its premiere exhibition was entitled The Avant-Garde: From Futurism to Fluxus. The Guggenheim-Hermitage museum, designed by Zaha Hadid, is scheduled to open in 2011. The museum will host exhibitions featuring works from Saint Petersburg's Hermitage Museum and the Guggenheim Museums, along with non-commercial avant-garde cinema, a library, a museum of Lithuanian Jewish culture, and collections of works by Jonas Mekas and Jurgis Mačiūnas.

Info from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vilnius

суббота, 17 января 2009 г.

Postcard from Taiwan

The mountain gets its name from its flat top. It is one of the historic sites associated with Koxinga. On the mountain are various places of sightseeing interest.

Koxinga (traditional Chinese: 國姓爺; pinyin: Guóxìngyé; Wade-Giles: Kuo-hsing-yeh; Pe̍h-oē-jī: Kok-sèng-iâ/Kok-sìⁿ-iâ; Lord with the Imperial Surname) is the traditional Western spelling[1] of the popular appellation of Zheng Chenggong (traditional Chinese: 鄭成功; pinyin: Zhèng Chénggōng; Wade-Giles: Cheng Ch'eng-kung; Pe̍h-oē-jī: Tēⁿ Sêng-kong) (1624 - 1662), who was a military leader at the end of the Chinese Ming Dynasty. He was a prominent leader who opposed the Qing Dynasty, and a general who defeated the Dutch to claim Taiwan in 1662.