Postcard Sunday: Finland

Sunday, October 11 2015 2:00 pm, GMT+1h Laura
Koli Park

Koli National Park (Finnish: Kolin kansallispuisto) is a national park in the municipalities of Joensuu, Lieksa and Kontiolahti in the North Karelia region of Finland. It covers 30 square kilometers (12 sq mi) of forested hills on the western shore of Lake Pielinen, and was established in 1991. Contrary to the other national parks in Finland, Koli National Park was originally governed by the Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla. It is now governed by the Metsähallitus like the other national parks.
Koli has lots to offer cultural heritage-wise. Formerly, it was a sacrificial site, but was later used for slash-and-burn agriculture. The purpose of Koli National Park isn’t to preserve wild nature, but the traditional agricultural heritage is cherished in Koli. Some fields are slashed, burnt and re-cultivated; hay is cut yearly. Traditional Finnish breeds of cow and sheep graze in the meadows of Koli.

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.

Postcard Sunday: Austria

Sunday, September 6 2015 2:00 pm, GMT+1h Laura
Schoenbrunn Palace, UNESCO World Heritage List #: 786

Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence located in Vienna, Austria. The 1,441-room Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural and historical monuments in the country. Since the mid-1950s it has been a major tourist attraction. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.

Postcard Sunday: Alps (More countries)

Sunday, August 30 2015 2:00 pm, GMT+1h Laura
Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps, UNESCO World Heritage List #: 1363

Countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland

Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps is a series of prehistoric pile-dwelling (or stilt house) settlements in and around the Alps built from around 5000 to 500 B.C. on the edges of lakes, rivers or wetlands. 111 sites, located in Austria (5 sites), France (11), Germany (18), Italy (19), Slovenia (2), and Switzerland (56), were added to UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2011. In Slovenia, this is the first cultural world heritage site.

Postcard Sunday: Japan

Sunday, August 23 2015 2:00 pm, GMT+1h Laura
Itsukushima Shrine, UNESCO World Heritage List #: 776

Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as Miyajima), best known for its “floating” torii gate. It is in the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan. The shrine complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Japanese government has designated several buildings and possessions as National Treasures.

Postcard Sunday: India

Sunday, August 16 2015 2:00 pm, GMT+1h Laura
Taj Mahal, UNESCO World Heritage List #: 252

The Taj Mahal, from Persian and Arabic, “crown of palaces”, is a white marble mausoleum located on the southern bank of Yamuna River in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–1658) to house the tomb of his favorite wife of three, Mumtaz Mahal.

Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for an additional ten years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million Indian rupees, which in 2015 would be valued at around 52.8 billion Indian rupees ($827 million US). The construction project employed around 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. The domed marble tomb is part of an integrated complex consisting of gardens and two red-sandstone buildings surrounded by a crenellated wall on three sides.

The Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India”. It is one of the world’s most celebrated structures and a symbol of India’s rich history. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the Taj Mahal attracts some 3 million visitors a year.

Postcard Sunday: South Korea

Sunday, August 9 2015 2:00 pm, GMT+1h Laura
Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes, UNESCO World Heritage List #: 1264

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. It is listed at number 23 on CNN Go’s 50 natural wonders: The ultimate list of scenic splendor.

Postcard Sunday: Denmark

Sunday, August 2 2015 2:00 pm, GMT+1h Laura
St. Gallen Abbey, UNESCO World Heritage List #: 695

Roskilde Cathedral, in the city of Roskilde on the island of Zealand in eastern Denmark, is a cathedral of the Lutheran Church of Denmark. The first Gothic cathedral to be built of brick, it encouraged the spread of the Brick Gothic style throughout Northern Europe. Constructed during the 12th and 13th centuries, the cathedral incorporates both Gothic and Romanesque architectural features in its design. Until the 20th century, it was Zealand’s only cathedral. Its twin spires dominate the skyline of the town.

Postcard Sunday: Italy

Sunday, July 26 2015 2:00 pm, GMT+1h Laura
Pisa, UNESCO World Heritage List #: 395

Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa. Although Pisa is known worldwide for its leaning tower (the bell tower of the city’s cathedral), the city of over 88,332 residents (around 200,000 with the metropolitan area) contains more than 20 other historic churches, several palaces and various bridges across the River Arno.

The city is also home of the University of Pisa, which has a history going back to the 12th century and also has the mythic Napoleonic Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies as the best Superior Graduate Schools in Italy.