Wednesday 25 December 2019


The inscriptions of Bisotun were ordered by Darius the Great, the fourth Persian King of Kings 

Relief figure of Bisotun
This postcard was sent by Steffi

Bisotun is located along the ancient trade route linking the Iranian high plateau with Mesopotamia and features remains from the prehistoric times to the Median, Achaemenid, Sassanian, and Ilkhanid periods. The principal monument of this archaeological site is the bas-relief and cuneiform inscription ordered by Darius I, The Great, when he rose to the throne of the Persian Empire, 521 BC. The bas-relief portrays Darius holding a bow, as a sign of sovereignty, and treading on the chest of a figure who lies on his back before him. According to legend, the figure represents Gaumata, the Median Magus and pretender to the throne whose assassination led to Darius’s rise to power. Below and around the bas-reliefs, there are ca. 1,200 lines of inscriptions telling the story of the battles Darius waged in 521-520 BC against the governors who attempted to take apart the Empire founded by Cyrus. The inscription is written in three languages. The oldest is an Elamite text referring to legends describing the king and the rebellions. This is followed by a Babylonian version of similar legends. The last phase of the inscription is particularly important, as it is here that Darius introduced for the first time the Old Persian version of his res gestae (things done). - in:


Pasargadae was the capital of the first Persian Empire

Tomb of Cyrus the Great
This postcard was sent by Steffi

The Tomb of Cyrus is the monument of Cyrus the Great approximately 1 km southwest of the palaces of Pasargadae. According to Greek sources, it dates back to 559–529 BC. The most extensive description based on a lost account by Aristobulus, who had accompanied Alexander the Great on his eastern campaign in the late 4th century BC, is to be found in the Anabasis of Arrian (6.29). written in the 2nd century AD. - in: wikipedia

Golestan Palace

The Golestan Palace is one of the oldest historic monuments in the city of Tehran, the capital city of Iran.

Golestan Palace
This postcard was sent by Steffi

The lavish Golestan Palace is a masterpiece of the Qajar era, embodying the successful integration of earlier Persian crafts and architecture with Western influences. The walled Palace, one of the oldest groups of buildings in Teheran, became the seat of government of the Qajar family, which came into power in 1779 and made Teheran the capital of the country. Built around a garden featuring pools as well as planted areas, the Palace’s most characteristic features and rich ornaments date from the 19th century. It became a centre of Qajari arts and architecture of which it is an outstanding example and has remained a source of inspiration for Iranian artists and architects to this day. It represents a new style incorporating traditional Persian arts and crafts and elements of 18th century architecture and technology. - in:

Sunday 22 December 2019

Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan

Isfahan, with two UNESCO World Heritage sites, must be a great place to visit in Iran

Masjed-e Jame of Isfahan
This postcard was sent by Steffi

Located in the historic centre of Isfahan, the Masjed-e Jāmé (‘Friday mosque’) can be seen as a stunning illustration of the evolution of mosque architecture over twelve centuries, starting in ad 841. It is the oldest preserved edifice of its type in Iran and a prototype for later mosque designs throughout Central Asia. The complex, covering more than 20,000 m2, is also the first Islamic building that adapted the four-courtyard layout of Sassanid palaces to Islamic religious architecture. Its double-shelled ribbed domes represent an architectural innovation that inspired builders throughout the region. The site also features remarkable decorative details representative of stylistic developments over more than a thousand years of Islamic art. - in:

Sunday 15 December 2019

Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene

While I lived in Switzerland I tasted some times the Prosecco. Unfortunately I've never been in the region

This postcard was sent by Sini

Valdobbiadene is a town in the province of TrevisoVenetoItaly. Valdobbiadene is a wine growing area. Just below the Alpine-Dolomite areas of Veneto, it provides a climate for a cool variety of grape (Glera). The Conegliano Valdobbiadene area is the home of the best Prosecco, an extra dry sparkling white wine. Prosecco brands that derive from this area include Altaneve, Mionetto, Masottina, and others. - in: wikipedia

Vatnajökull National Park - Dynamic Nature of Fire and Ice

The Vatnajökull National Park is one of three national parks in Iceland.

This postcard was sent by Steffi

Jökulsárlón (literally "glacial river lagoon") is a large glacial lake in southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. Situated at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, it developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The lake has grown since then at varying rates because of melting of the glaciers. It is now 1.5 km (0.93 mi) away from the ocean's edge and covers an area of about 18 km2 (6.9 sq mi). In 2009 it was reported to be the deepest lake in Iceland, at over 248 m (814 ft), as glacial retreat extended its boundaries. The size of the lake has increased fourfold since the 1970s. It is considered as one of the natural wonders of Iceland. - in: wikipedia

Friday 13 December 2019

Qinghai Hoh Xil

Hoh Xil in Qinghai was listed among the World Heritage Sites as "the largest and highest plateau in the world".

Hoh Xil
This postcard was sent by Wei Tianyi

Hoh Xil or Kekexili, (Mongolian for "Blue Ridge", also Aqênganggyai for "Lord of Ten Thousand Mountains"), is an isolated region in the northwestern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China
Despite the harsh climate, Hoh Xil is home to more than 230 species of wild animals, 20 of which are under Chinese state protection, including the wild yak, wild donkey, white-lip deerbrown bear and the endangered Tibetan antelope or chiru. The abundant plateau pika, a small burrowing rodent, is the main food of the region's brown bears; the bears also feed on the yak and antelope. - in: wikipedia

Tiibetan Antelope in Hoh Xil
This postcard was sent by Jia Qing

The Tibetan antelope or chiru (Pantholops hodgsonii) is a medium-sized bovid native to the Tibetan plateau.
Endemic to the Tibetan Plateau, the Tibetan antelope inhabits open alpine and cold steppe environments between 3,250 and 5,500 m (10,660 and 18,040 ft) elevation. They prefer flat, open terrain, with sparse vegetation cover. They are found almost entirely in China, where they inhabit Tibet, southern Xinjiang, and western Qinghai; a few are also found across the border in LadakhIndia. Today, the majority are found within the Chang Tang Nature Reserve of northern Tibet. The first specimens to be described, in 1826, were from Nepal; the species has apparently since been extirpated from the region.[1] No subspecies are recognised. Zhuonai Lake in Hoh Xil is known as a calving ground for the Tibetan antelope. - in: wikipedia

Xinjiang Tianshan

This site, with beautiful landscapes, presents a lot of contrast between hot and cold environments: from snowy mountains to desert, but also with forests and meadows, clear rivers and lakes and red bed canyon.

Xinjiang Tianshan
This postcard was sent by Ruinan Wang

Xinjiang Tianshan comprises four components—Tomur, Kalajun-Kuerdening, Bayinbukuke and Bogda— that total 606,833 hectares. They are part of the Tianshan mountain system of Central Asia, one of the largest mountain ranges in the world. Xinjiang Tianshan presents unique physical geographic features and scenically beautiful areas including spectacular snow and snowy mountains glacier-capped peaks, undisturbed forests and meadows, clear rivers and lakes and red bed canyons. - in:

Heavenly Lake of Tianshan
This postcard was sent by Haley

Tianchi is an alpine lake in Xinjiang, Northwest China. The name literally means Heavenly Lake and can refer to several lakes in mainland China and Taiwan. This Tianchi lies on the north side of the Bogda Shan ("Mountain of God", Bogda is a Mongolian word meaning "God") range of the Tian Shan ("Mountain of Heaven"). - in: wikipedia

Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas

According to UNESCO "The area covered by the World Heritage site is claimed to be the most biodiverse and least disturbed temperate ecosystems in the world".

Three Parallel Rivers National Park

Consisting of eight geographical clusters of protected areas within the boundaries of the Three Parallel Rivers National Park, in the mountainous north-west of Yunnan Province, the 1.7 million hectare site features sections of the upper reaches of three of the great rivers of Asia: the Yangtze (Jinsha), Mekong and Salween run roughly parallel, north to south, through steep gorges which, in places, are 3,000 m deep and are bordered by glaciated peaks more than 6,000 m high. 

Three Parallel Rivers
This postcard was sent by Ruinan Wang

The site is an epicentre of Chinese biodiversity. It is also one of the richest temperate regions of the world in terms of biodiversity. - in:

Sunday 1 December 2019

Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions

The Portuguese called  Elmina "The Gold Mine" because of the vast amount of gold and ivory found there

Elmina Castle and Fort Saint Jago
This postcard was sent by Javier

Elmina Castle was erected by the Portuguese in 1482 as Castelo de São Jorge da Mina (St. George of the Mine Castle), also known as Castelo da Mina or simply Mina (or Feitoria da Mina) in present-day ElminaGhana (formerly the Gold Coast). It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, and the oldest European building in existence south of the Sahara. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. The Dutch seized the fort from the Portuguese in 1637, after an unsuccessful attempt to the same extent in 1596, and took over all of the Portuguese Gold Coast in 1642. The slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1814. In 1872, the Dutch Gold Coast, including the fort, became a possession of Great Britain.

Fort Coenraadsburg or Conraadsburg, also Fort São Tiago da Mina, is a small Portuguese chapel built in honor of Saint Jago and it is situated opposite the Elmina Castle in the Central region of Ghana, to protect Fort Elmina from attacks. Fort Conraadsburg was built in the 1660s. It was built on the site of a fortified chapel that the Portuguese had built and that the Dutch had burned to the ground in the Battle of Elmina (1637). The Dutch ceded the fort to Britain in 1872, together with the entire Dutch Gold Coast.. Before the fort was built, the Dutch used the hill as a gun-position to bombard the Portuguese in the year 1637. To prevent others from doing the same tactic against the Portuguese, the Dutch constructed a fortified earthwork the following year. - in: wikipedia

The 11 forts and castles (in red what I have)
  • Fort Good Hope (Fort Goedehoop)
  • Cape Coast Castle
  • Fort Patience (Fort Leysaemhyt)
  • Fort Amsterdam
  • Fort St. Jago (Fort Conraadsburg)
  • Fort Batenstein
  • Fort San Sebastian
  • Fort Metal Cross
  • English Fort (Fort Vrendenburg)
  • Fort Saint Antony
  • Elmina Castle (St. George's Castle/ Fort St. Jorge)

Ruins of Loropéni

The quality of the images of this postcard is not the best, but I cannot complain, it's not everyday that I receive postcards from Burkina Faso!

Ruins of Loropéni
This postcard was sent by Mike

The dramatic and memorable Ruins of Loropéni consist of imposing, tall, laterite stone perimeter walls, up to six metres in height, surrounding a large abandoned settlement. As the best preserved of ten similar fortresses in the Lobi area, part of a larger group of around a hundred stone-built enclosures, they are part of a network of settlements that flourished at the same time as the trans-Saharan gold trade and appear to reflect the power and influence of that trade and its links with the Atlantic coast. Recent excavations have provided radio-carbon dates suggesting the walled enclosure at Loropéni dates back at least to the 11th century AD and flourished between the 14th and 17th centuries, thus establishing it as an important part of a network of settlements. - in:

Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto (South-Eastern Sicily)

Eight towns are part of this site. So far I only have postcards of two. I think I would like very much of any of these cities because I love Baroque

Baroque Buildings in Via Crociferi
This postcard was sent by Isabella

Via Crociferi is one of the oldest Catania streets in the heart of the city, it starts in Piazza San Francesco D’Assisi (crossing Via Vittorio Emanuele II) through the famous St. Benedict triumphal arch.
This street is considered the symbol of Baroque in Catania, because there are some of the most beautiful eighteenth-century churches of the city. - in:

Noto Cathedral
This postcard was sent by Javier

Noto Cathedral (ItalianCattedrale di Noto; La Chiesa Madre di San Nicolò) is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Noto in Sicily, Italy. Its construction, in the style of the Sicilian Baroque, began in the early 18th century and was completed in 1776. It is dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Myra, and has been the cathedral of the Diocese of Noto since the diocese's establishment in 1844.
The cathedral dome collapsed in 1996 as a result of unremedied structural weakening caused by an earthquake in 1990, to which injudicious building alterations in the 1950s may have contributed. It has since been rebuilt, and was reopened in 2007. - in: wikipedia

The eight towns (in red what I have):

  • Caltagirone
  • Catania
  • Militello Val di Catania
  • Modica
  • Noto
  • Palazzolo Acreide
  • Ragusa
  • Scicli

Saturday 30 November 2019

Churches of the Pskov School of Architecture

Ten churches are part of this site. They look all very beautiful but it's hard to find information about some of them 

Church of Pokrova ot Proloma
This postcard was sent by Kseniya

This group of monuments is located in the historic city of Pskov, on the banks of the Velikaya River in the northwest of Russia. Characteristics of these buildings, produced by the Pskov School of Architecture, include cubic volumes, domes, porches and belfries, with the oldest elements dating back to the 12th century. Churches and cathedrals are integrated into the natural environment through gardens, perimeter walls and fences. Inspired by the Byzantine and Novgorod traditions, the Pskov School of Architecture reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries, and was one of the foremost schools in the country. - in

The 10 churches (in red what I have):

  • Cathedral of Ioann Predtecha (John the Precursor) 
  • Ensemble of the Spaso-Mirozhsky Monastery: the Transfiguration Cathedral
  • Church of the Archangel Michael with a bell tower
  • Church of Pokrova (Intercession) ot Proloma 
  • Church of Koz’ma and Damian s Primostya
  • Church Georgiya so Vzvoza (St. George)
  • Church of Theophany with a belfry
  • Church Nikoly so Usokhi (St. Nicholas)
  • Church Vasiliya na gorke (St. Basil the Greatl)
  • Ensemble of the Snetogorsky Monastery: The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God

High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago

In the year 2000 the High Coast in Sweden was inscribed as a World Heritage site and in 2006 the site was extended to Finland. 

High Coast
This postcard was sent by Steffi

The High Coast (SwedishHöga kusten) is a part of the coast of Sweden on the Gulf of Bothnia, in the municipalities of KramforsHärnösand and Örnsköldsvik, notable as an area for research on post-glacial rebound and eustacy, in which the land rises as the covering glaciers melt, a phenomenon first recognised and studied there. Since the last ice age, the land has risen 300 m, which accounts for the region's unusually tall cliffs. - in: wikipedia

Kvarken Archipelago
This postcard was sent by Sini

Kvarken is the narrow region in the Gulf of Bothnia separating the Bothnian Bay (the inner part of the gulf) from the Bothnian Sea.
On the Finnish side of Kvarken, there is a large archipelago, the Kvarken Archipelago, which includes the large islands ReplotBjörkö and a large number of smaller islands. - in: wikipedia

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.

Rock Art in the Côa Valley
This postcard was given to me by cousin Isabel

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

Rock Art in Siega Verde

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