Thursday, 24 October 2019

Royal Building of Mafra – Palace, Basilica, Convent, Cerco Garden and Hunting Park (Tapada)

This year Portugal inscribed two sites in the World Heritage list. There are now two sites in the mainland of Portugal that I've never visited, even though I saw the Mafra palace from far away in 2010 in my holidays in Sintra.

Mafra Palace

The Palace of Mafra (PortuguesePalácio de Mafra) is a monumental Baroque and Italianized Neoclassical palace-monastery located in Mafra, Portugal, some 28 kilometres from Lisbon. Construction began in 1717 and was completely concluded in 1755.
The palace, which also served as a Franciscan friary, was built during the reign of King John V (1707–1750), as consequence of a vow the king made in 1711, to build a convent if his wife, Queen Mariana, gave him offspring. The birth of his first daughter the Infanta Barbara of Portugal, prompted construction of the palace to begin. The palace was conveniently located near royal hunting preserves, and was usually a secondary residence for the royal family.

Mafra Palace
This postcard was sent by Martinha

This vast complex, largely built of Lioz stone, is among the most sumptuous Baroque buildings in Portugal and at 40,000 m², one of the largest royal palaces. Designed by the German architect João Frederico Ludovice, the palace was built symmetrically from a central axis, occupied by the basilica, and continues lengthwise through the main façade until two major towers. The structures of the convent are located behind the main façade. The building also includes a major library, with about 30,000 rare books. The basilica is decorated with several Italian statues and includes six historical pipe organs and two carillons, composed of 98 bells. - in: wikipedia

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde

In 2011 my wife and I visited Vila Nova de Foz Côa. We didn't have the chance to see the real rock art sites because we arrived quite late and the weather wasn't good, but we saw the many reproductions in the wonderful museum of the Côa Parque

Rock Art in the Côa Valley

The Prehistoric Rock-Art Site of the Côa Valley is an open-air Paleolithic archaeological site located in a region of northeastern Portugal, near the border with Spain.
In the early 1990s rock engravings were discovered in Vila Nova de Foz Côa during the course of the construction of a dam in the valley of the Côa River. They include thousands of engraved rock drawings of horses, bovines and other animals, human and abstract figures, dated from 22,000 to 10,000 years B.C.

Rock Art in the Côa Valley


The first drawings appearing in the Côa Valley date between 22–20,000 years B.C., consisting of zoomorphic imagery of nature. Between 20–18,000 B.C. (Solutense period), a secondary group of animal drawings included examples of muzzled horses. There was greater elaboration during 16–10,000 years B.C. (Magdalenense period), with a Paleolithic style. The essentially anthropomorphic and zoomorphic designs included horses identifiable by their characteristic manes, aurochs with mouths and nostrils indicated, and deer.
Other paintings dating back to the Epipaleolithic period were of zoomorphic semi-naturalist design. Another phase of anthropomorphic designs were encountered during the Neolithic, that also included zoomorphic designs that were both geometric and abstract. Anthropomorphic designs also appeared dating back to the Chalcolithic and Bronze Ages; these were primarily anthropomorphic in character.
Between the 5th and 1st centuries, early organized humans were responsible for producing anthropomorphic and zoomorphic designs that included weapons and symbols.
The final era of recorded rock art, corresponding to the 17th to 20th centuries, include religious, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic designs, inscriptions and dates. The later part of these designs include representations of boats, trains, bridges, planes and representations of various scenes, including drawings completed by António Seixas and Alcino Tomé. - in: wikipedia



This postcard was sent by Javier

Siega Verde is an archaeological site in Serranillo, Villar de la Yegua, province of Salamanca, in Castile and León, Spain. It was added to the Côa Valley Paleolithic Art site in the World Heritage List in 2010.
The site consists of a series of rock carvings, discovered in 1988 by professors Manuel Santoja, during an inventory campaign of archaeological sites in the valley of the Águeda river. Subjects include equids, aurochs, deer and goats, among the most common ones, as well as bison, reindeer and the woolly rhinoceros, which were not yet extinct at the time.
The engravings date to the Gravettian culture of the Upper Palaeolithic (circa 20,000 years ago). There are also more recent, anthropomorphic representations, dating to the Magdalenian age (c. 9,000 years ago). There is a total of 91 panels, spanning some 1 kilometers of rock. - in: wikipedia

Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks

The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are comprised of Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho national parks and Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine and Hamber provincial parks

Lake Louise and Chateau Lake Louise
This postcard was sent by Jason

Lake Louise, named Lake of the Little Fishes by the Stoney Nakota First Nations people, is a glacial lake within Banff National Park in AlbertaCanada.
The emerald colour of the water comes from rock flour carried into the lake by melt-water from the glaciers that overlook the lake.


Lake Louise
This postcard was sent by Lisa

Fairmont's Chateau Lake Louise, one of Canada's grand railway hotels, is located on Lake Louise's eastern shore. It is a luxury resort hotel built in the early decades of the 20th century by the Canadian Pacific Railway. - in: wikipedia

Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper National Park
This postcard with three great stamps of the great Leonard Cohen was sent by Jason

Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, spanning 11,000 km2 (4,200 sq mi). It is located in the province of Alberta, north of Banff National Park and west of Edmonton. The park contains the glaciers of the Columbia Icefieldspringslakeswaterfalls and mountains.

Mount Edith Cavell is a mountain located in the Athabasca River and Astoria River valleys of Jasper National Park, and the most prominent peak entirely within Alberta.
The mountain was named in 1916 for Edith Cavell, an English nurse executed by the Germans during World War I for having helped Allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium to the Netherlands, in violation of German military law.[1] It was previously known as Mount Fitzhugh. - in: wikipedia

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Historic Areas of Istanbul

I'd love to visit Istanbul. Even some structures that are not part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It looks a good place to taste a good Turkish coffee

Sultan Ahmet Moque and Hagia Sophia
This postcard was sent by Onder

The distinctive and characteristic skyline of Istanbul was built up over many centuries and encompasses the  Hagia  Sophia whose vast dome reflects the architectural and decorative expertise of the 6th century,  the 15th century Fatih complex and Topkapi Palace - that was continually extended until the 19th century, the Süleymaniye Mosque complex and Sehzade Mosque complex, works of the chief architect Sinan, reflecting the climax of Ottoman architecture in the 16th century, the 17th century Blue Mosque and the slender minarets of the New Mosque near the port completed in 1664. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/356/

Sultan Ahmet Mosque
This postcard was sent by Marcel

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque or Sultan Ahmet Mosque (TurkishSultan Ahmet Camii) is a historic mosque located in IstanbulTurkey. A popular tourist site, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque continues to function as a mosque today; men still kneel in prayer on the mosque's lush red carpet after the call to prayer. The Blue Mosque, as it is popularly known, was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains Ahmed's tomb, a madrasah and a hospice. Magnificent hand-painted blue tiles adorn the mosque’s interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes. - in: wikipedia


Hagia Sophia
This postcard was sent by Harun


Hagia Sophia was a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in IstanbulTurkey. From the date of its construction in 537 AD, and until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted by the Fourth Crusaders to a Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was later converted into an Ottoman mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.
The church was richly decorated with mosaics throughout the centuries. They either depicted the Virgin Mother, Jesus, saints, or emperors and empresses. Other parts were decorated in a purely decorative style with geometric patterns. -in: wikipedia

Glazed Tile from Harem in Topkapı Palace
This postcard was sent by Seda

The Topkapı Palace or the Seraglio is a large palace in IstanbulTurkey that was one of the major residences of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years (1465–1856) of their 624-year reign.
The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At its peak, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people, and covered a large area with a long shoreline. It contained mosques, a hospital, bakeries, and a mint. Construction began in 1459, ordered by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Byzantine Constantinople. It was originally called the New Palace (Yeni Saray or Saray-ı Cedîd-i Âmire) to distinguish it from the previous residence. It received the name "Topkapı" (Cannon Gate) in the 19th century, after a (now lost) gate and shore pavilion. The complex was expanded over the centuries, with major renovations after the 1509 earthquake and the 1665 fire. - in: wikipedia

Rumelian Castle

Rumelihisarı (also known as Rumelian Castle and Roumeli Hissar Castle) or Boğazkesen Castle (literally meaning "Strait-Cutter Castle") is a medieval fortress located in IstanbulTurkey, on a series of hills on the European banks of the Bosphorus.
Conceived and built between 1451 and 1452 on the orders of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, the complex was commissioned in preparation for a planned Ottoman siege on the then-Byzantine city of Constantinople, with the goal of cutting off maritime military and logistical relief that could potentially come to the Byzantines' aid by way of the Bosphorus Strait, hence the fortress's alternative name, "Boğazkesen", i.e. "Strait-cutter" Castle. Its older sister structure, Anadoluhisari ("Anatolian Fortress"), sits on the opposite banks of the Bosporus, and the two fortresses worked in tandem during the final siege to throttle all naval traffic along the Bosphorus, thus helping the Ottomans achieve their goal of making the city of Constantinople (later renamed Istanbul) their new imperial capital in 1453. - in: wikipedia

Chora Church - Freco of the Resurrection
This postcard was sent by Marco


The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora is a medieval Byzantine Greek Orthodox church preserved as the Chora Museum in the Edirnekapı neighborhood of Istanbul. The neighborhood is situated in the western part of the municipality (belediye) of the Fatih district. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, the church was converted into a mosque; it became a museum in 1948. The interior of the building is covered with some of the oldest and finest surviving Byzantine mosaics and frescoes; they were uncovered and restored after the building was secularized and turned into a museum.

Christ with Theodore Metochites presenting his model of Chora Church
This postcard was sent by Marco

The Chora Church was originally built as part of a monastery complex outside the walls of Constantinople, to the south of the Golden Horn.
The majority of the fabric of the current building dates from 1077–1081, when Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Alexius I Comnenus, rebuilt the Chora Church as an inscribed cross or quincunx: a popular architectural style of the time. Early in the 12th century, the church suffered a partial collapse, perhaps due to an earthquake. The church was rebuilt by Isaac Comnenus, Alexius's third son. However, it was only after the third phase of building, two centuries after, that the church as it stands today was completed. The powerful Byzantine statesman Theodore Metochites endowed the church with many of its fine mosaics and frescos. Theodore's impressive decoration of the interior was carried out between 1315 and 1321. The mosaic-work is the finest example of the Palaeologian Renaissance. The artists remain unknown. In 1328, Theodore was sent into exile by the usurper Andronicus III Palaeologus. However, he was allowed to return to the city two years later, and lived out the last two years of his life as a monk in his Chora Church.

Chora Church - Christ turning water into wine
This postcard was sent by Marco

The Chora Church is not as large as some of the other surviving Byzantine churches of Istanbul (it covers 742.5 m²) but it is unique among them, because of its almost completely still extant internal decoration. The building divides into three main areas: the entrance hall or narthex, the main body of the church or naos, and the side chapel or parecclesion. The building has six domes: two in the esonarthex, one in the parecclesion and three in the naos. - in: wikipedia

Monday, 7 October 2019

Santiago de Compostela (Old Town)

This first postcard was brought to me by my parents who visited Santiago de Compostela about 18 years ago. At the time I had the chance to go with them and I didn't want and some time later I regretted. So last year my family and I went there! It was a rainy day but when we arrived to Santiago de Compostela the rain stopped and we could visit the city and its wonderful cathedral

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, a cathedral of the archdiocese is in the World Heritage Site of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in Spain. The cathedral is the reputed burial-place of Saint James the Great, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ. The cathedral has historically been a place of pilgrimage on the Way of St. James, since the Early Middle Ages. The building is a Romanesque structure with later Gothic and Baroque additions. in: wikipedia

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
This postcard was sent by Vanesa

Each of the façades along with their adjoining squares constitute a magnificent urban square. The Baroque façade of the Praza do Obradoiro square was completed by Fernando de Casas Novoa in 1740. Also in baroque style is the Acibecharía façade by Ferro Caaveiro and Fernández Sarela, later modified by Ventura Rodríguez. The Pratarías façade, built by the Master Esteban in 1103, and most importantly the Pórtico da Gloria, an early work of Romanesque sculpture, were completed by Master Mateo in 1188. - in: wikipedia

Cathedral and the relics of St. James
The crypt, below the main altar, shows the substructure of the 9th-century church. This was the final destination of the pilgrims. The crypt houses the relics of Saint James and two of his disciples: Saint Theodorus and Saint Athanasius. The silver reliquary (by José Losada, 1886) was put in the crypt at the end of the 19th century, after authentication of the relics by Pope Leo XIII in 1884. - in: wikipedia

Botafumeiro
This postcard was sent from Portugal by Paulo

The Botafumeiro is a famous thurible found in the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. In the past, similar devices were used in large churches in Galicia; one is still used in the Tui Cathedral. Incense is burned in this swinging metal container, or "censer". The name "Botafumeiro" means "smoke expeller" in Galician.
The Botafumeiro is suspended from a pulley mechanism in the dome on the roof of the church. The current pulley mechanism was installed in 1604. - in: wikipedia

Cabildo House
The Casa do Cabildo has a beautiful baroque façade. It was designed by the architect Clemente Fernández Sarela in 1758 and fulfils an ornamental function as it serves to enclose and enhance the Plaza de las Platerías square. The Casa del Cabildo was Valle-Inclán's inspiration for his story 'Mi hermana Antonia'.It was restored by the Santiago Consortium in 2011 and since then has formed part of the network of museums in the historic city. - in: https://www.spain.info/en/que-quieres/arte/monumentos/coruna_a/casa_do_cabildo.html

Staircase of the Convent of San Domingos
This postcard was sent by Vanesa

St Dominic's monastery (GalicianConvento de San Domingos de BonavalCastilianSanto Domingo de Bonaval) is a former Dominican monastery in Santiago de CompostelaGaliciaSpain.
The convent was founded by St. Dominic de Guzman (who went on pilgrimage to Santiago in 1219) in the early thirteenth century.
In 1695 starts the reconstruction of the convent, apparently due to the precarious situation of the building. Domingo de Andrade was in charge of the works under the patronage of Archbishop Antonio de Monroy. Thus, the current image of the convent is largely the result of the reforms ordered by this archbishop of Compostela, who held office between 1685 and 1715.
Inside the convent stands the extraordinary triple helical staircase of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the work also the architect Domingo de Andrade. It consists of three separate coils. - in: wikipedia