Postcard Sunday: England

Sunday, September 27 2015 2:00 pm, GMT+1h Laura
Chester

Chester is a walled city in Cheshire, England. Lying on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales, it is the largest and most populous settlement of the unitary authority area of Cheshire West and Chester, Chester was granted city status in 1541.

Chester was founded as a “castrum” or Roman fort with the name Deva Victrix, during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian in AD 79. One of the three main army camps in the Roman province of Britannia, Deva later became a major civilian settlement. In 689, King Æthelred of Mercia founded the Minster Church of West Mercia, which later became Chester’s first cathedral, and the Saxons extended and strengthened the walls, much of which remain, to protect the city against the Danes. Chester was one of the last cities in England to fall to the Normans. William the Conqueror ordered the construction of a castle, to dominate the town and the nearby Welsh border.

Chester is one of the best preserved walled cities in Britain. It has a number of medieval buildings, but some of the black-and-white buildings within the city center are Victorian restorations. Apart from a 100-meter (330 ft) section, the listed Grade I walls are almost complete. The Industrial Revolution brought railways, canals, and new roads to the city, which saw substantial expansion and development – Chester Town Hall and the Grosvenor Museum are examples of Victorian architecture from this period.

Postcard Sunday: Russia

Sunday, September 20 2015 2:00 pm, GMT+1h Laura
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, UNESCO World Heritage List #: 657

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery is situated in the town of Sergiyev Posad, about 70 km to the north-east from Moscow by the road leading to Yaroslavl, and currently is home to over 300 monks.

The monastery was founded in 1345 by one of the most venerated Russian saints, Sergius of Radonezh, who built a wooden church in honor of the Holy Trinity on Makovets Hill. Early development of the monastic community is well documented in contemporary lives of Sergius and his disciples.

In 1355, Sergius introduced a charter which required the construction of auxiliary buildings, such as refectory, kitchen, and bakery. This charter was a model for Sergius’ numerous followers who founded more than 400 cloisters all over Russia, including the celebrated Solovetsky, Kirilov, and Simonov monasteries.

St. Sergius supported Dmitri Donskoi in his struggle against the Tatars and sent two of his monks, Peresvet and Oslyabya, to participate in the Battle of Kulikovo (1380). At the outbreak of the battle, Peresvet died in a single combat against a Tatar bogatyr. The monastery was devastated by fire, when a Tatar unit raided the area in 1408.

Postcard Sunday: Nepal

Sunday, September 13 2015 2:00 pm, GMT+1h Laura
Boudhanath, UNESCO World Heritage List #: 121

Boudhanath (also called Boudha, Bouddhanath or Baudhanath or the Khāsa Caitya) is a stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. Located about 11 km (6.8 mi) from the center and northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, the stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal.

The Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath dominates the skyline. The ancient Stupa is one of the largest in the world. The influx of large populations of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries) around Boudhanath. As of 1979, Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along with Swayambhunath, it is one of the most popular tourist sites in the Kathmandu area.

The Stupa is on the ancient trade route from Tibet which enters the Kathmandu Valley by the village of Sankhu in the northeast corner, passes by Boudnath Stupa to the ancient and smaller stupa of Cā-bahī (often called ‘Little Boudnath’). It then turns directly south, heading over the Bagmati river to Patan – thus bypassing the main city of Kathmandu (which was a later foundation). Tibetan merchants have rested and offered prayers here for many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many decided to live around Boudhanath. The Stupa is said to entomb the remains of Kassapa Buddha.