January 16, 2017

0615, 0685, 1251, 2924, 2929 ITALY (Sicily) - Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto (UNESCO WHS)

0615 Ragusa Ibla

0615 (posted on 25.04.2013) - RAGUSA
Can be said that Val di Noto (Province of Noto), a area located in south-eastern Sicily, owes its notoriety to a disaster, the enormous earthquake of 1693. After that, the representative of the king of Spain, the ruler of the time, received the permission to redesign the damaged towns based on rational and scenographic town plans. So these new towns were redesigned according to renaissance and baroque town planning, with streets crossing each other or starting from a central square, in what came to be known as the Sicilian Baroque style. In 2002, UNESCO inscribed eight of these towns on the World Heritage List as "representing the culmination and final flowering of Baroque art in Europe". One of this city is Ragusa, formed from two distinct areas, the lower and older town of Ragusa Ibla, and the higher Ragusa Superiore (Upper Town), separated by the Valle dei Ponti, a deep ravine crossed by four bridges. Ragusa Ibla hosts a wide array of Baroque architecture, including nine major churches and seven major palazzi.

0685 Catania - Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Agatha
and Palace of the Seminary of the Clerics

0685, 2924 (posted on 19.06.2013, 04.01.2017, 16.01.2017) - CATANIA
Another city is Catania, located between Messina and Syracuse, at the foot of the Mount Etna. Founded in the 8th century BC by the Greeks, it has had a long and eventful history, and has been buried by lava of seventeen times. In the 14th century and in the Renaissance period it was one of Italy's most important and flourishing cultural, artistic, and political centers. Originally constructed in 1078-1093, Catania Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Agatha, has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Today, traces of the original Norman edifice include part of the transept, the two towers and the three semicircular apses, composed of large lava stones, most of them recovered from imperial Roman buildings.

2924 Catania - Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Agatha
and the elephant with the egyptian obelisk (1)

The current appearance of the cathedral dates from the work in 1711 of Gian Battista Vaccarini. It has three levels with Corinthian columns in granite, perhaps taken from the Roman Theatre of the city. All the orders are decorated with marble statues of Saint Agatha over the gate, Saint Euplius on the right and Saint Birillus on the left. The main door, in wood, has 32 sculpted plaques with episodes of the life and martyrdom of Saint Agatha, papal coats of arms and symbols of Christianity. In the right of the postcard 0685 can be seen the Palace of the Seminary of the Clerics, a very complex structure built by the architect Alonzo Benedict, connected to the Cathedral through a step above the Porta Uzeda.

2929 Catania - Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Agatha
and the elephant with the egyptian obelisk (2)

The elephant in Piazza Duomo was sculpted of volcanic stone during the Roman era and stands as an emblem of the city. It supports a transplanted Egyptian obelisk, brought by the Romans some time after circa 30 BC. The monument's nickname in the Sicilian language is "Liotru," a reference to Elidoros, a heretical eighth century apostate and wizard who sought, through magic, to make the elephant walk. Fashioned of typical pinkish red granite from the Aswan quarries, the obelisk bears hieroglyphs identifying the goddess Isis, whose Egyptian cult reached the height of its popularity from 664 to 610 BC, although the style of writing dates the work to an earlier period.

1251 Caltagirone - Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte

1251 (posted on 27.09.2014) - CALTAGIRONE
Caltagirone, located about 70km southwest of Catania, has been long famous for the production of pottery, particularly maiolica and terra-cotta wares. Virtually all buildings in the old town are decorated with ceramic tiles, shops spill their delightfully crafted wares onto the pavements and the effect is one of multichromatic vivacity. The highlight is undoubtedly the 142 steps of the Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte (Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte), built from 1609, that connect the lower town with the older upper town. The peculiarity is that each step is decorated with different hand-decorated ceramics, using styles and figures derived from the millennial tradition of pottery making. At the end of July (24th and 25th), in honour of the town's patron saint, San Giacomo, and in the middle of August, the steps undergo yet another transformation, the "Illuminata". Thousands of candles flicker away creating a truly breathtaking sight.

January 15, 2017

2928 BELGIUM (Brussels) - Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (UNESCO WHS)

2928 Stairway of Hôtel Tassel

Victor Horta was born in Ghent, Belgium in 1861 and lived for several years in Paris before returning to Belgium to work as an architect in 1880. He achieved rapid success, working on several prestigious buildings and receiving a number of official posts including a position at the Free University of Brussels. From 1892, Horta began working in the new Art Nouveau style, being credited as the first to introduce the style to architecture from the decorative arts. Four of his buildings - Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde, and Maison & Atelier Horta - were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

January 14, 2017

2927 CANADA (Newfoundland and Labrador) - Atlantic puffin colony in Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

The Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica), also known as the common puffin, is a species of seabird in the auk family. It is the only puffin native to the Atlantic Ocean, and breeds in Iceland, Norway, Greenland, Newfoundland and many North Atlantic islands. Although it has a large population and a wide range, the species has declined rapidly, resulting in it being rated as vulnerable by the IUCN. This puffin has a black crown and back, pale grey cheek patches and white underparts. Its broad, boldly marked red and black beak and orange legs contrast with its plumage.

2926 BELARUS (Vitebsk) - Transfiguration Church in Polotsk in 1870's

Located on the Dvina River, Polotsk is one of the most ancient cities of the Eastern Slavs. The Primary Chronicle listed Polotsk in 862, together with Murom and Beloozero. Transfiguration Church of the Saint Euphrosine monastery is a well-preserved monument of Pre-Mongol Rus architecture. It was built between 1152 and 1161 by the Polatsk architect Ioann by the order of the princess Saint Euphrosyne of Polatsk as a cathedral church of the Convent of the Saviour and Saint Euphrosyne. In 1582, King Stephen Báthory gave the church to the Order of Jesuits.

January 13, 2017

2925 RUSSIA (Pskov Oblast) - The Old Mill in Mikhailovskoye

Located in the heart of the Pskov Oblast, on the spurs of the Valdai Hills, not far from Pskov and the border of Latvia, the State museum-reserve of Alexander Pushkin «Mikhailovskoye» is a unique monument of Russian culture of national significance. In Russian history Mikhailovskoye, Trigorskoye, Petrovskoye, Pushkinskie Gory (or Holy Hills) are connected with life and creative activity of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (1799-1837), probably the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature.

January 1, 2017

0861, 1184, 1775, 1947, 2923 CANADA (Alberta / British Columbia) - Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks (UNESCO WHS)

0861 Banff National Park - Peyto Lake

Posted on 14.11.2013, 16.08.2014, 25.07.2015, 10.10.2015, 01.01.2017
Renowned for their scenic splendor, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are comprised of Banff, and Jasper parks in Alberta, and Kootenay, Yoho, Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine and Hamber parks in British Columbia. Together, they exemplify the outstanding physical features of the Rocky Mountain Biogeographical Province. Classic illustrations of glacial geological processes - including icefields, remnant valley glaciers, canyons and exceptional examples of erosion and deposition - are found throughout the area. The Burgess Shale Cambrian and nearby Precambrian sites contain important information about the earth's evolution.

1947 Banff National Park - Lake Louise

Located at 110-180km west of Calgary, Banff National Park is Canada's oldest national park, established in 1885. Named for an early trail guide and trapper, Peyto Lake is a glacier-fed lake formed in a valley of the Waputik Range, between Caldron Peak, Peyto Peak and Mount Jimmy Simpson, at an elevation of 1,860m. During the summer, significant amounts of glacial rock flour flow into the lake, and these suspended rock particles give the lake a bright, turquoise colour. The lake is fed by the Peyto Creek, which drains water from the Caldron Lake and Peyto Glacier, and flows into the Mistaya River. Lake Louise, named Lake of the Little Fishes by the Stoney Nakota First Nations people, is also a glacial lake within the same park, drained through the 3 km long Louise Creek into the Bow River, and having characteristics similar to Peyto Lake.

1184 Jasper National Park - Athabasca Glacier

One of the icefield of Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks is Columbia Icefield, which lies partly in the northwestern tip of Banff National Park and the southern end of Jasper National Park. It is about 325 km² in area, 100 to 365m in depth and receives up to 7m of snowfall per year. The icefield feeds eight major glaciers, including Athabasca Glacier. It currently recedes at a rate of about 5m per year and has receded more than 1.5km in the past 125 years and lost over half of its volume. The glacier moves down from the icefield at a rate of several centimetres per day. Due to its close proximity to the Icefields Parkway, between the Alberta towns of Banff and Jasper, and rather easy accessibility, it is the most visited glacier in North America.

1775 Jasper National Park - Maligne Lake

Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, and includes the glaciers of the Columbia Icefield, hot springs, lakes, waterfalls and mountains. Located 44km south of Jasper town, Maligne Lake (from the French word for malignant or wicked) is famed for the colour of its water, the surrounding peaks, the three glaciers visible from the lake and Spirit Island. It is fed and drained by the Maligne River, which enters the lake on its south side, near Mount Unwin and drains the lake to the north. Spirit Island is a tiny tied island, frequently photographed, a view which many people associate with the Canadian Rockies.

2923 Yoho National Park - Emerald Lake

Located in southeastern British Columbia, Yoho National Park was named after a Cree expression of awe and wonder. Emerald Lake is the largest of Yoho's 61 lakes and ponds, as well as one of the park's premier tourist attractions. It is enclosed by mountains of the President Range, as well as Mount Burgess and Wapta Mountain. This basin traps storms, causing frequent rain in summer and heavy snowfalls in winter. This influx of moisture works with the lake's low elevation to produce a unique selection of flora. Due to its high altitude, the lake is frozen from November until June. The vivid turquoise color of the water, caused by powdered limestone, is most spectacular in July as the snow melts from the surrounding mountains.

December 30, 2016

2922 UGANDA - Matooke

Matooke, also known as ebitookye in south western Uganda, and ibitoke in Rwanda, is the fruit of a variety of starchy banana, commonly referred to as cooking/green bananas. The fruit is harvested green, carefully peeled and then cooked and often mashed or pounded into a meal. In Uganda and Rwanda, the fruit is steam-cooked, and the mashed meal is considered a national dish in both countries. Bananas/plantains were a common staple crop around the Lake Victoria area of Uganda, and in the West and Kilimanjaro regions of Tanzania.

December 28, 2016

2587, 2588, 2921 CANADA - First Nations

2587 First Nations (1)

Posted on 01.06.2016, 28.12.2016
The First Nations are the various Aboriginal Canadians who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently 634 recognized First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. Although not without conflict or slavery, Euro-Canadians' early interactions with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations were less combative compared to the often violent battles between colonists and native peoples in the United States. In 2011, there were more than 1.3 million people in Canada who identified as being of First Nations heritage.

2588 First Nations (2)

First Nations can be grouped into cultural areas based on their ancestors' primary lifeway, or occupation, at the time of European contact. These culture areas correspond closely with the six main physical and ecological regions of Canada. Within each of these six areas, First Nations had very similar cultures, largely shaped by a common environment.  Even if today Aboriginal people live outside their ancestral homes, the traditional cultures of their ancestors still exert a strong influence on their culture, from spirituality to political attitudes.

2921 First Nations (3)

The six groups were: Woodland First Nations (in dense forest in the East); Iroquoian First Nations (in the southernmost area, a fertile land suitable for planting corn, beans and squash); Plains First Nations (on the grasslands of the Prairies); Plateau First Nations (from semi-desert conditions in the south to high mountains in the north); Pacific Coast First Nations (who had access to abundant salmon and shellfish); and the First Nations of the Mackenzie and Yukon River Basins (whose harsh environment consisted of dark forests, barren lands and the swampy terrain.

December 27, 2016

2920 UNITED STATES (Oklahoma) - Dixon Palmer and his daughter

2920 Dixon Palmer showing his daughter, Linda,
a Buffalo hide.

The Kiowas are a tribe of Native Americans, which migrated from western Montana southward into the Rocky Mountains in Colorado in the 17th and 18th centuries, and finally into the Southern Plains by the early 19th century. In 1867, the Kiowa were moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma. Today they are federally recognized as Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma with headquarters in Carnegie, Oklahoma. The Kiowa language (Cáuijògà) is still spoken today and is part of the Tanoan language family. As of 2011, there are 12,000 members.

2919 MALAYSIA (Kedah) - A craftsman making a rattan chair

Rattan is the name for roughly 600 species of climbing palms belonging to subfamily Calamoideae, also known as manila, or malacca, named after the ports of shipment Manila and Malacca City, and as manau (from the Malay rotan manau, the trade name for Calamus manan canes in Southeast Asia). The climbing habit is associated with the characteristics of its woody stem, soft and flexible comparing to true wood derived from a typical secondary growth. They are not trees but are vine-like lianas, scrambling through and over other vegetation.

December 25, 2016

2918 NORWAY - The clothing and the arms of the Vikings

Between 790s and 1066, during the period commonly known today as the Viking Age, the mere sight of Norsemen's longships aroused fear among the inhabitants of the European coastal areas and along inland rivers through what is now Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, up to Constantinople. Remaining in collective memory of Europeans primarily as fierce and ruthless warriors, the Vikings also opened trade routes, explored new territories, founded settlements and states, and even fought as mercenaries.

December 23, 2016

2917 GERMANY (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) - Rostock

Crossed by the Warnow and located nearly centrally on Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's Baltic Sea coast, Rostock is the largest Baltic port of Germany. In 1251, the city became a member of the Hanseatic League, so that in the 14th century it was a powerful seaport town. In 1419, one of the earliest universities in Europe, the University of Rostock, was founded. Beginning with the end of the 15th century, the city largely lost its economic importance, which regained it in the first half of the 19th century, due at first to the wheat trade, then, from the 1850s, to industry, especially to its shipyards.

December 22, 2016

0805, 1659, 1660, 2169, 2258, 2916 UNITED STATES (Arizona / Utah / New Mexico) - The Navajo

2169 Navajo indians on reservation

Posted on 31.08.2013, 12.06.2015, 30.12.2015, 01.02.2016, 22.12.2016
The Navajo are the largest federally recognized tribe of the United States, with more then 300,000 members, and the Navajo Nation constitutes an independent governmental body, which manages the Navajo Indian reservation (in the Four Corners area), which extends into the states of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Diné Bikéyah, or Navajoland, one of the most arid and barren portions of the Great American Desert, is larger than 10 of the 50 states in America. 

1659 Navajo Indian (Saltwater clan)
Medicine Man (1)

Regarding the name, the Spaniards used the term Apachu de Nabajo for the first time in the 1620s to refer to the people in the Chama Valley region, and since 1640s began to use the term "Navajo" to refer to the Diné (meaning "The People"), as prefer they to call themselves. The Navajo are speakers of a Na-Dené Southern Athabaskan languages known as Diné bizaad. The importance of their contribution, as code talkers, at the Japanese defeat in the Pacific in WWII is well known.

1660 Navajo Indian (Saltwater clan)
Medicine Man (2)

It seems that the Athabaskan ancestors of the Navajo and Apache entered the Southwest around 1400 CE, and the oral history indicates a long relationship between Navajo and Pueblo people. Initially, the Navajo were hunters and gatherers, but subsequent they adopted crop farming techniques from the Pueblo, and sheep and goats breeding from Spaniards. In addition, the practice of spinning and weaving wool into blankets and clothing became common and developed into a form of highly valued artistic expression.

0805 An old Navajo woman and his granddaughter

For a long period prior to the acquisition from Mexico of the territory now forming the northern portion of Arizona and New Mexico, the Navajo undertook raids on the New Mexican Indian pueblos and the white settlements along the Rio Grande, for the capture of livestock, although both Indians and Mexicans also were enslaved. The Mexicans lost no opportunity to retaliate. In 1846 the Navajo came into official contact with the United States, which shortly established forts on their territory. Relations have been strained from the beginning, raids reaching a peak in 1860-1861 (period known as Naahondzood, "the fearing time").

2258 A Navajo baby named
Be-Nah Na-Zuhn (Pretty Eyes)

In 1864, after a series of skirmishes and battles, about 8.500 Navajo were forced away from their homelands to the Bosque Redondo, an experimental reservation about 480km away on the plains of eastern New Mexico. This project was a failure, so a new treaty was made in 1868, one of its provisions being the purchase of 15.000 sheep to replenish the exterminated flocks. Thousands of people died along the way, during the four years spent at the reservation, and during the walk home. In July, 7304 Navaho arrived at Fort Wingate, to their old home, where lived in peace since then, even if the abuses upon them continued.

2916 A Navajo woman with a baby

Historically, the structure of the Navajo society is largely a matrilineal system, in which women owned livestock and land. Once married, a man would move to live with his bride in her dwelling and among her mother's people and clan. Daughters (or, if necessary, other female relatives) were traditionally the ones who received the generational property inheritance. The children are "born to" and belong to the mother's clan, and are "born for" the father's clan. As adults, men represent their mother's clan in tribal politics. People must date and marry partners outside their own clans.