понедельник, 18 мая 2009 г.

The 141th anniversary of birth Nicholas II (Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov)

суббота, 2 мая 2009 г.

Postcard from Gatchina, Russia



Gatchina is a city in Leningrad Oblast, Russia, located 45 km south of St. Petersburg by the road leading to Pskov. It is part of the World Heritage Site Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments.

Khotchino (old name of Gatchina) was first documented in 1499, a village in possession of Novgorod the Great, Russia. In the 17th century, in a series of wars, it passed to Livonia, then to Sweden, and was returned to Russia during the Northern War. At that time, Gatchina was a southern vicinity of the new Russian capital, St. Petersburg. In 1708 Gatchina was given by Peter the Great to his sister Natalia Alekseevna, and after her death, Peter founded an Imperial Hospital and Apothekary here. In 1765, Catherine the Great bought Gatchina with suburban 20 villages, then she granted it to her favourite General Count Orlov. Between 1766 and 1788 Count Orlov built a sombre castle with 600 rooms and laid out an extensive English landscape park over 7 square kilometres, with adjacent zoo and a horse farm. A triumphal arch was erected to a design by the architect of Gatchina, Antonio Rinaldi (1771, built 1777-82), forming a monumental entrance, the gift of Catherine The Great to Count Orlov for his efforts during a recent outbreak of plague at Moscow.
Main Gatchina palace.

The Gatchina Palace was expanded several times by several imperial owners. Rococo interiors were designed by Rinaldi and Vincenzo Brenna and executed by Italian stuccoworkers and Russian craftsmen. Interiors were highlighted with parquetry floors, painted ceilings, and distinctly Italian furniture.

Gatchina

Postcard from Romania



The University's Central Library "Mihai Eminescu" in Bucharest


Bucharest is the capital city, industrial and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country.
Bucharest was first mentioned in documents as early as 1459. Since then it has gone through a variety of changes, becoming the state capital of Romania in 1862 and steadily consolidating its position as the centre of the Romanian mass media, culture and arts. Its eclectic architecture is a mix of historical (neo-classical), interbellum (Bauhaus and Art Deco), Communist-era and modern. In the period between the two World Wars, the city's elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite earned Bucharest the nickname of the "Little Paris of the East" (Micul Paris). Although many buildings and districts in the historic centre were damaged or destroyed by war, earthquakes and Nicolae Ceauşescu's program of systematization, many survived. In recent years, the city has been experiencing an economic and cultural boom.

Thank you Ladislau!

Bucharest

Postcard from Japan




Nihonbashi or Nihombashi, is a business district of Chūō, Tokyo, Japan which grew up around the bridge of the same name which has linked two sides of the Nihonbashi River at this site since the 17th century. The first wooden bridge was completed in 1603, and the current bridge made of stone dates from 1911. The district covers a large area to the north and east of the bridge, reaching Akihabara to the north and the Sumida River to the east. Ōtemachi is to the west and Yaesu and Ginza to the south.

The Nihonbashi district was a major mercantile center during the Edo period: its early development is largely credited to the Mitsui family, who based their wholesaling business in Nihonbashi and developed Japan's first department store, Mitsukoshi, there. The Edo-era fish market formerly in Nihonbashi was the predecessor of today's Tsukiji fish market. In later years, Nihonbashi emerged as Tokyo's (and Japan's) predominant financial district.

The Nihonbashi bridge first became famous during the 1600s, when it was the eastern terminus of the Nakasendō and the Tōkaidō, roads which ran between Edo and Kyoto. During this time, it was known as Edobashi, or "Edo Bridge." In the Meiji era, the wooden bridge was replaced by a larger stone bridge, which still stands today (a replica of the old bridge has been exhibited at the Edo-Tokyo Museum). It is the point from which Japanese people measure distances: highway signs that report the distance to Tokyo actually state the number of kilometers to Nihonbashi.

Postcard from Finland




The Sámi people, (also known as Lapps, although this term is considered derogatory) are the indigenous people of northern Europe inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. Their ancestral lands span an area the size of Sweden in the Nordic countries. The Sámi people are among the largest indigenous ethnic groups in Europe. Their traditional languages are the Sámi languages, which are classified as members of the Finno-Lappic group of the Uralic language family.

Traditionally, the Sámi have plied a variety of livelihoods, including coastal fishing, fur trapping, and sheep herding. However, the best known Sami livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer herding - which about 10% of the Sámi are connected with and 2,800 actively involved with full-time. For traditional, cultural, and political reasons, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for Sámi people in certain regions of the Nordic countries.

Gakti or gákti, as it is written in Northern Sámi, is a piece of traditional clothing worn by the Sámi in northern areas of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. The gákti is worn both in ceremonial contexts and while working, particularly when herding reindeer. The traditional Sami costume is characterized by a dominant color adorned with contrast colored bands, plaits, pewter embroidery, tin art, and often a high collar. In the Norwegian language it is called 'kofte', most probably due to the word "gákti" being somewhat similar to the word 'kofte' in the accusative, genitive, locative and comitative case (gávtti/gaftti, gávtti/gaftti, gávttis/gafttis, gávtiin/gafttijn).

A pattern of a Metal goldwork (embroidery) collar for a traditional Sami peoples male garment (costume) from Åsele, Västerbotten, Sweden. The Sami gákti is a National costume (folk costume) and the metal tread most commonly used for the embroidery is Pewter.

The colours, patterns and the jewellery of the clothing can tell if a person is single or married and where the person is from. There are different gákti for women and men; men's gákti have a shorter "skirt" than women's. Traditionally the gákti was made from reindeer leather, but nowadays it's more common to use wool, cotton or silk. The gákti can be used with a belt (pleated, quilted or with silver buttons), silver jewellery, traditional leather footwear and a silk scarf. It is also a tradition that if your buttons on the belt are square, it shows that you are married. If they are round, you are single/not married yet. If a married couple divorce, and the ex-husband continue to use the Sami costume made by his ex-wife, he signals that he still wants her.

Two Finns dressed up in fake gákti outside of Rovaniemi, Finland. Though at first glance authentic, the patterns on these gáktis are not traditional anywhere in Sapmi

The Finnish tourist industry is notorious for displaying fake "sami culture" for tourists. Ethnically Finnish actors dress up in fake "gáktis" and perform fake "traditional rituals". This activity has been met with fierce protests from ethnic Sámi since it creates a false image of Sámi culture, diverts tourist industry money from ethnic Sámi to ethnic Finns (thereby exploiting the Sámi presence in Lappland without giving anything back to the Sámi) and is dishonest towards tourists.

The Four Winds hat (in Sami čiehgahpir) is one version of traditional man's hat of the Sami. The basis is a simple blue cylinder, decorated with a red band with braid patterns, but the top is a large, four-cornered star, colored bright blue with parts bright red and yellow. The decoration in an actual Sami hat is, like the rest of the Sami costume, indicative of the person's place of origin or even his clan, much like the Scottish tartan.

Sami
Gakti

Postcard from Germany




Solingen is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located on the northern edge of the region called Bergisches Land, south of the Ruhr area, and is the second largest city in the Bergisches Land. It is a member of the regional authority of the Rhineland.

Solingen is called the "City of Blades", since it has long been renowned for the manufacturing of fine swords, knives, scissors and razors made by famous firms such as DOVO Solingen, Wüsthof, J. A. Henckels, Boker, and numerous other manufacturers. Wilkinson is also based here.

In Medieval times, the swordsmiths of Solingen coined the town's image, which is preserved to this date. In the latter part of the 17th century, a group of swordsmiths from Solingen broke their guild oaths by taking their sword-making secrets with them to Shotley Bridge, County Durham in England. Some 90% of German knives are produced in Solingen.

Solingen