Sunday 30 October 2016

Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto)

Of all these small towns of great scenic and cultural value I only have postcards of 3 villages of Cinque Terre, so far.

Vernazza is a town and comune located in the province of La SpeziaLiguria, northwestern Italy. It is one of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre region. Vernazza is the fourth town heading north, has no car traffic, and remains one of the truest "fishing villages" on the Italian Riviera.

 Corniglia is a frazione ("fraction") of the comune of Vernazza in the province of La SpeziaLiguria, northern Italy with a population of about 150 (in 2016). Unlike the other localities of the Cinque Terre, Corniglia is not directly adjacent to the sea. Instead, it is on the top of a promontory about 100 metres high, surrounded on three sides by vineyards and terraces, the fourth side descends steeply to the sea. To reach Corniglia, it is necessary to climb the Lardarina, a long brick flight of steps composed of 33 flights with 382 steps or, otherwise follow a vehicular road that, from the station, leads to the village.

Monterosso al Mare
Monterosso al Mare is a town and comune in the province of La Spezia, part of the region of Liguria (northern Italy). It is one of the five villages in Cinque Terre.
Monterosso al Mare is located at the center of a small natural gulf, protected by a small artificial reef, to the east of Punta Mesco in the Riviera of La Spezia. It is the westernmost of the Cinque Terre. - in: wikipedia

The inscribed properties (in red what I have):
  • Cinque Terre (Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore and Monterosso al Mare) and Portovenere
  • Isola Palmaria
  • Isola del Tino
  • Isola del Tinetto

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Pampulha Modern Ensemble

Martinha visited recently a few UNESCO sites in Brazil, including the last one inscribed, from where she sent me this great postcard

Church of Saint Francis of Assisi
This postcard was sent by Marta

The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi (Igreja de Sao Francisco de Assis, commonly known as the Igreja da Pampulha) is a church in Pampulha region of Belo Horizonte, in the state of Minas Gerais, southeastern Brazil. It was designed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in the organic modern style. It is the first listed modern architectural monument in Brazil and consists of four undulating concrete parabolas with outdoor mosaics. The distinctive landscape of the church is the work of Roberto Burle Marx, a longtime Niemeyer collaborator.
The church was controversial from the beginning. The mayor of Belo Horizonte, Juscelino Kubitschek, was the patron of the project. Niemeyer said that he was inspired by the French Poet Paul Claudel's statement: "A church is God's hangar on earth," but Time Magazine wrote that the Archbishop of Belo Horizonte, Antonio dos Santos Cabral, saw it as "the devil's bomb shelter." Despite its completion in 1943 and Kubitschek's call for its consecration, it was not consecrated until 1959; Archbishop Cabral opposed both its architectural and artistic forms, particularly the mural of St. Francis behind the altar painted by Candido Portinari. He proclaimed the church "unfit for religious purposes."
It was finally taken over by the National Department of Artistic and Historical Patrimony. After the church was refurbished by Niemeyer, Auxiliary Archbishop João Rezende Costa (Archbishop Cabral was in virtual retirement by then) finally agreed that the church has "great artistic significance and a spiritual atmosphere" and it was consecrated. He consecrated the church in April 1959, saying "Now we can feel the wonderful art created here in homage to the Creator." - in: wikipedia

Monday 24 October 2016

Historic Centre of Riga

Historic centers are probably my favourite category of UNESCO sites and Riga is one of the reasons why. I hope to go there one day

Riga - Art Nouveau
This postcard was sent by Zane

Riga, which was founded as a port town in 1201, was one of the key centres of the Hanseatic League in Eastern Europe from the 13th to the 15th century. The urban fabric of its medieval core reflects the prosperity of those times, though most of the earliest buildings were rebuilt for actual needs or lost by fire or war. In the 17th century, Riga became the largest provincial town of Sweden. In the 19th century, it experienced rapid industrial development. It is in this period that the suburbs surrounding the medieval town were laid out, first, with imposing wooden buildings in neoclassical style, and later, when permanent stone buildings were allowed instead, in the Art Nouveau style. In the early 1900’s Riga became the European city with the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture with around 50 Art Nouveau buildings of high architectural value in the medieval part and more than 300 in the rest of the Historic Centre. The site reflects various architectural styles, which provide valuable insight into the stages of development of Riga as a city. The Historic Centre of Riga is comprised of three different urban landscapes – the relatively well-preserved medieval core, the 19th century semi-circle of boulevards with a green belt on both sides of the City Canal, and the former suburban quarters surrounding the boulevards with dense built-up areas with a rectangular network of streets and wooden architecture of the 18th and 19th centuries. Each of these parts has its characteristic relationship of buildings and public outdoor spaces. - in:

House of the Blackheads
This postcard was sent by Vlad

House of the Blackheads (LatvianMelngalvju namsGermanSchwarzhäupterhaus) is a building situated in the old town of RigaLatvia. The original building was erected during the first third of the 14th century for the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a guild for unmarried German merchants in Riga. Major works were done in the years 1580 and 1886, adding most of the ornamentations.

The structure was bombed to a ruin by the Germans June 28, 1941 and the remains demolished by the Soviets in 1948. The current reconstruction was erected from 1995 to 1999. - in: wikipedia

Sunday 23 October 2016

Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch

The gatehouse, known as King's Hall, is one of the very rare buildings from the Carolingian era whose original appearance is intact. 

King's Hall at Lorsch
This postcard was sent by Michèle

The Abbey of Lorsch is a former Imperial abbey in LorschGermany, about 10 km east of Worms. It was one of the most renowned monasteries of the Carolingian Empire. Even in its ruined state, its remains are among the most important pre-RomanesqueCarolingian style buildings in Germany.  - in: wikipedia

The picturesque King's Hall, featuring its world-renowned colourful sandstone façade, is one of the few well-preserved buildings from the Carolingian age. Although its purpose is not yet determined, its importance is undoubted. The upper floor (only accessible on a guided tour) features in part very well preserved wall paintings from various centuries. - in:

Collegiate Church, Castle and Old Town of Quedlinburg

With several designated stops along the Romanesque Road, Quedlinburg is famous for the timber-framed buildings and the castle hill

This postcard was sent by Michaela

Quedlinburg is a town situated just north of the Harz mountains, in the district of Harz in the west of Saxony-AnhaltGermany. In 1994, the castle, church and old town were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The town of Quedlinburg is known to have existed since at least the early 9th century, when there was a settlement known as Gross Orden on the eastern bank of the River Bode. It was first mentioned as a town in 922 as part of a donation by King Henry the Fowler (Heinrich der Vogler).
The Quedlinburg castle complex, founded by King Henry I and built up by Emperor Otto Iin 936, was an imperial Pfalz of the Saxon emperors. The Pfalz, including the male convent, was in the valley, where today the Roman Catholic Church of St. Wiperti is situated, while the women's convent was located on the castle hill. - in: wikipedia

Aachen Cathedral

This is the oldest cathedral in northern Europe and houses a collection of medieval art objects from the late ClassicalCarolingianOttonian and Staufian periods which are exceptional in their artistic and religious meaning.

Aachen Cathedral
This postcard was sent by Nadine

Aachen Cathedral (GermanAachener Dom), traditionally known in English as the Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle, is a Roman Catholic church in Aachen, western Germany. It is the oldest cathedral in northern Europe and was constructed by order of the emperor Charlemagne, who was buried there after his death in 814. For 595 years, from 936 to 1531, the Aachen chapel was the church of coronation for thirty German kings and twelve queens. The church has been the mother church of the Diocese of Aachen since 1802. - in: wikipedia

Saturday 22 October 2016

Pilgrimage Church of Wies

This church looks very rococo, very colourful and extremely beautiful 

Pilgrimage Church of Wies
This postcard was sent by "Crazy-Cooper"

The Pilgrimage Church of Wies (GermanWieskirche) is an oval rococo church, designed in the late 1740s by Dominikus Zimmermann, who lived nearby for the last eleven years of his life. It is located in the foothills of the Alps, in the municipality of Steingaden in the Weilheim-Schongau district, BavariaGermany.
It is said that, in 1738, tears were seen on a dilapidated wooden figure of the Scourged Saviour. This miracle resulted in a pilgrimagerush to see the sculpture. In 1740, a small chapel was built to house the statue but it was soon realized that the building would be too small for the number of pilgrims it attracted, and so Steingaden Abbey decided to commission a separate shrine. Many who have prayed in front of the statue of Jesus on the altar have claimed that people have been miraculously cured of their diseases, which has made this church even more of a pilgrimage site.
Construction took place between 1745 and 1754, and the interior was decorated with frescoes and with stuccowork in the tradition of the Wessobrunner School. "Everything was done throughout the church to make the supernatural visible. Sculpture and murals combined to unleash the divine in visible form". - in: wikipedia

Friday 21 October 2016


This site is known as one of the most important and best preserved prehistoric sites of the eastern Mediterranean

This postcard was sent by Marcel

Located in the District of Larnaka, about 6 km from the southern coast of Cyprus, the Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia lies on the slopes of a hill partly enclosed in a loop of the Maroni River. Occupied from the 7th to the 5th millennium B.C., the village covers an area of approximately 3 ha at its maximum extent and is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean. It represents the Aceramic Neolithic of Cyprus at its peak, that is the success of the first human occupation of the island by farmers coming from the Near East mainland around the beginning of 9th millennium. - in:

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes

According with UNESCO this site "bears testimony to the history of the planet, its features and processes". Besides that, looks extremely beautiful 

Volcanic Island of Jeju
This postcard was sent from Sweden by Amina

Jeju, also known as Jejudo, is a volcanic island, 130 kilometers from the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula. The largest island and smallest province in South Korea, the island has a surface area of 1,846 square kilometers.
A central feature of Jeju is Hallasan, the tallest mountain in South Korea and a dormant volcano, which rises 1,950 meters above sea level. The main volcano includes 360 satellite volcanoes. Volcanic activity on Jeju began approximately in the Cretaceous and lasted until the early Tertiary period. The most recent eruptions are estimated to be about 5,000 years ago, which puts the volcano into the active classification, meaning eruptions in the last 10,000 years. - in: wikipedia

Western Caucasus

According with the UNESCO specialists, this site is the only large mountain area in Europe that has not experienced significant human impact. Lets hope it continues like that

Khuko Mountain Lake at the Western Caucasus

The Western Caucasus, extending over 275,000 ha of the extreme western end of the Caucasus mountains and located 50 km north-east of the Black Sea, is one of the few large mountain areas of Europe that has not experienced significant human impact. Its subalpine and alpine pastures have only been grazed by wild animals, and its extensive tracts of undisturbed mountain forests, extending from the lowlands to the subalpine zone, are unique in Europe. The site has a great diversity of ecosystems, with important endemic plants and wildlife, and is the place of origin and reintroduction of the mountain subspecies of the European bison. - in:

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Virgin Komi Forests

This is the largest virgin forest in Europe 

Sharyu River at Komi Forests
This postcard was sent by Elena

The Virgin Komi Forests cover 3.28 million ha of tundra and mountain tundra in the Urals, as well as one of the most extensive areas of virgin boreal forest remaining in Europe. This vast area of conifers, aspens, birches, peat bogs, rivers and natural lakes has been monitored and studied for over 50 years. It provides valuable evidence of the natural processes affecting biodiversity in the taiga. - in:

Putorana Plateau

Russia is a huge country with a lot of mountains and lakes, so no wonder that we can see some breathtaking landscapes like the one in this postcard

Putorana Plateau
This postcard was sent by Natasha

This site coincides with the area of the Putoransky State Nature Reserve, and is located in the central part of the Putorana Plateau in northern Central Siberia. It is situated about 100 km north of the Arctic Circle. The part of the plateau inscribed on the World Heritage List harbours a complete set of subarctic and arctic ecosystems in an isolated mountain range, including pristine taiga, forest tundra, tundra and arctic desert systems, as well as untouched cold-water lake and river systems. A major reindeer migration route crosses the property, which represents an exceptional, large-scale and increasingly rare natural phenomenon. - in:

Sunday 16 October 2016

Roskilde Cathedral

The Roskilde Cathedral is known for being the church with more kings and queens buried. And some of the tombs are amazing pieces of art 

Roskilde Cathedral
This postcard was sent by Rebekka

Roskilde Cathedral, on the Island of Zealand is a large brick-built aisled Gothic-style basilica, with twin spires and a semi-circular gallery within. Placed on a small hilltop overlooking the Roskilde Fjord the Cathedral is a very significant landmark.
Built about 1170, the original Cathedral structure was in Romanesque form but, when half-built, the plan was changed under the influence of the incoming Gothic style from France. In the following centuries, chapels, porches, and other structures were added, each in the current architectural style of the time. As a result, the Cathedral has emerged as an epitome of the history of European architecture in a single structure.
The Cathedral's royal monuments commemorate an outstanding series as royal burials that have occurred from the 10th century until the present time. With only one exception since the reformation, all Danish kings and queens have been buried in the Cathedral, their tombs representing the evolution of funerary monumental art. - in:

Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Poreč

This basilica seems to me one of those buildings that are much more prettier in the inside than on the outside 

Euphrasian Basilica
This postcard was sent by Veronika

The Euphrasian Basilica (CroatianEufrazijeva bazilikaItalianBasilica Eufrasiana) or the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of Mary is a basilica in PorečCroatia. The episcopal complex, including, apart the basilica itself, a sacristy, a baptistery and the bell tower of the nearby archbishop's palace, is an excellent example of early Byzantine architecture in the Mediterranean region.
The Euphrasian basilica has for the most part retained its original shape, but accidents, fires and earthquakes have altered a few details. Since it is the third church to be built on the same site, it conceals previous buildings, for example the great floor mosaic of the previous basilica from the 5th century. - in: wikipedia

Historic Centre of Český Krumlov

Český Krumlov was one of the UNESCO sites that Marta from Portugal visited in her trip to Czech Republic and she says that it is a lovely place

Český Krumlov
This postcard arrived from Portugal sent by Marta

Situated on the banks of the Vltava river, the town was built around a 13th-century castle with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. It is an outstanding example of a small central European medieval town whose architectural heritage has remained intact thanks to its peaceful evolution over more than five centuries. - in:

Český Krumlov Castle
Český Krumlov Castle is located in the city Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic. It dates back to 1240 when the first castle was built by the Witigonen family, the main branch of the powerful Rosenberg family.
By the 17th century the Rosenbergs had died out, and Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II gave the dominion of Krumau to Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg, naming him Duke of Krumau. After the death of Hans Ulrich's son, Johann Anton I von Eggenberg, the castle was administered for the period between 1649 and 1664 by his widow, Anna Maria.
One of her two sons, Johann Christian I von Eggenberg, was responsible for the Baroque renovations and expansions to the castle, including the castle theatre now called the Eggenberg Theatre. - in: wikipedia

Historic Centre of Telč

I really hope to visit Czech Republic one day. Marta from Portugal visited a few UNESCO sites of this country and she loved. I'm pretty sure that I would love it too!

Historic Centre of Telč 
This postcard was sent by Štěpánka

Telč is a town in southern Moravia, near Jihlava, in the Czech Republic. The town was founded in the 13th century as a royal water fort on the crossroads of busy merchant routes between Bohemia, Moravia and Austria.
Besides the monumental 17th-century Renaissance château with an English-style park (a rebuilding of original Gothic castle), the most significant sight is the town square, a unique complex of long urban plaza with well-conserved Renaissance and Baroque houses with high gables and arcades; since 1992 all of this has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Castle of Telč 
This postcard was sent by Marta

The Gothic castle was built in the second half of the 14th century. At the end of the 15th century the castle fortifications were strengthened and a new gate-tower built. In the middle of the 16th century the medieval castle no longer satisfied Renaissance nobleman Zachariáš of Hradec, who had the castle altered in the Renaissance style. The ground floor was vaulted anew, the façade decorated with sgraffito, and the state apartments and living quarters received stucco ornamentation together with trompe l'oeil andchiaroscuro paintings in 1553. The counter-reformation brought the Jesuits to the town, who built the church of Name of Jesus in 1666–67, according to the plans of Domenico Orsi. The column of the Virgin and the fountain in the centre of the square date from the 18th century. - in: wikipedia

Thursday 13 October 2016

San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries

I love this postcard for several reasons: it has the colours of autumn, is about ancient religious buildings, it shows in just one image the two monasteries of this site, even if one of them is in second plan, in the background and it has information in the front and in the back of the card

San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries
This postcard was sent by Jordi

The monasteries of San Millán de Suso (6th century) and San Millán de Yuso (11th century) are two monasteries situated in the village of San Millán de la CogollaLa Rioja, Spain.
The two monasteries' names Suso and Yuso mean the "upper" and the "lower" in archaic Castilian, respectively. Suso is the older building and is believed to be built on the site of a hermitage where Saint Emilian (SpanishSan Millán) lived. Perhaps Suso's major claim to fame is as the place where phrases in the Spanish and Basque languages were written for the first time. UNESCO acknowledges the property "as the birthplace of the modern written and spoken Spanish language". The phrases in Spanish and Basque are glosses on a Latin text and are known as the Glosas Emilianenses. There is some debate as to whether the Spanish words are written in an early form of Castilian or in a related dialect. In either case, San Millán's importance as a cradle of the Spanish language is reinforced by the proximity of the village of Berceo which is associated with Gonzalo de Berceo, the first Spanish poet known by name. - in: wikipedia

Poblet Monastery

This monastery is one of the largest in Spain. I would love to visit it. It looks impressive

Poblet Monastery
This postcard was sent by Sandra

Poblet Monastery is located in the south of Catalonia, in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, in the municipality of Vimbodí. It is one of the largest and most complete Cistercian abbeys in the world. It was built in the 12th to 15th centuries around a church that dates to the 13th century. It is impressive for the majesty of its architecture and includes a fortified royal residence as well as the pantheon of the kings and queens of Catalonia and Aragon.
The Monastery is structured as three enclosures, surrounded by a defensive wall. The first outer enclosure contains buildings from the 16th century, such as storehouses, workshops, housing for lay workers and other premises connected with the financial life of the community. This enclosure also contains the Gothic chapel of Sant Jordi, built in 1452. The fortified Golden Door gives access to the second enclosure, made up of the Plaça Major, or Main Square, around which stand the remains of the hospital for the poor, the Romanesque chapel of Santa Caterina and the treasury. The third and innermost enclosure is fortified and includes the church, cloister and monastic rooms. - in:

Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe

The Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe was one of the most important monasteries in the country for more than four centuries

Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe
This postcard was sent by Susana

The Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe is located in the province of Cáceres (Autonomous Community of Extremadura, Spain) at a location of great beauty, overlooking a valley surrounded by high mountains. The town of Guadalupe, built around the Monastery, whose foundation dates back to 1337, offers in its medieval buildings a unique beauty that reflects the traditional architecture in an urban context.
It is an exceptional example of an ensemble comprised of widely differing architectural styles, including in particular the 14th- to 15th-century Mudéjar church and cloister. The following architecture from different periods is worth underscoring: the Basilica (main church) or Templo Mayor – with a façade notable for its Mudéjar works, its doors ornamented with finely-worked bronze plaques, the interior nave and two side aisles with fine ornamented vaulting, and many richly decorated tombs and altars. The sacristy built between 1638 and 1647is abundantly decorated and best known for the series of paintings by Zurbarán and wall paintings that highlight the austere lines of its architecture. The Chapel of Santa Catalina of Alejandría, a square building that links the Sacristy with the Reliquaries Chapel, has an octagonal cupola lit by a lantern, contains some outstanding 17th-century tombs, and houses many elaborate reliquaries and other works of art in its arcaded alcoves. The Camarín de la Virgen, a small octagonal building situated behind the presbytery of the basilica is amply decorated in Baroque style. Of special interest is the upper storey, the “Chamber of the Virgin” proper, in which the vaults are richly decorated in plaster and stucco and the walls covered with paintings, among them nine by Luca Giordano. It houses the famous statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe on a magnificently ornamented throne. The cloister was constructed in brick in the Mudéjar tradition and painted in white and red. The small chapel in the centre dates from 1405, and there is an impressive portal ca. 1520-24 in Plateresque style. The Gothic cloister has galleries on three sides with three tiers of arches, and the New Church, in modified Baroque style, has three naves. - in:

Monday 10 October 2016

Pantanal Conservation Area

A lot amazing rare wild animals can be found in the Pantanal, such as capybaras, jaguars, giant anteaters, yacare caimans and tapirs.

Wild Animals in Pantanal
This postcard was sent by Luzia

The Pantanal Conservation Area comprises a cluster of four contiguous protected areas: the Pantanal Matogrossense National Park and the Special Reserves of Acurizal, Penha and Doroche, covering a total area of 187,818 hectares. This protected area complex is located in western central Brazil, in the extreme south-west of the Mato Grosso e Mato Grosso do Sul State and the international border with Bolivia and Paraguay.
The property includes the greater part of the Amolar mountainous ridge with a maximum altitude of 900 meters. The transition between the seasonally flooded areas and the mountains is abrupt. This ecological gradient is unique to the whole Pantanal region and offers a dramatic landscape. Located between the river basins of Cuiabá and Paraguay, the site plays a key role in the spreading of nutritive materials during flooding as well as in the maintenance of fish stocks in the Pantanal. Although the property only covers a small part of the Pantanal (one of the largest wetlands of the world, covering around 14,000,000 ha), it is representative and of sufficient size to ensure the continuity of ecological processes. It also protects numerous threatened species, such as the giant armadillo, giant anteater, giant otter, marsh deer and the hyacinth macaw, the largest species of parrot. The jaguar population in the property is probably the biggest in the entire Pantanal region. The number of aquatic plant species found there is also remarkable. - in:

Great Egret in Pantanal
This postcard was sent by Paula

The great egret (Ardea alba), also known as the common egretlarge egret or (in the Old Worldgreat white heron, is a large, widely distributed egret, with four subspecies found in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world. It builds tree nests in colonies close to water. - in: wikipedia