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.