Friday, August 7, 2009
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Another rare card comes from a Finnish user, who lives in Cyprus. It was actually an official card, so I can consider myself lucky for receiving it, I guess. :)By the look of the ruins in the top picture, I was able to find out that they are located near the city of Limassol and used to a beautiful Temple of Apollo. Apollo Hylates, God of the Woodland, was the protector of the city of Kourion. The cult of Apollo was celebrated here from the eighth century B.C. to the A.D. fourth century. The second picture might be from the ancient Roman city of Salamis in the northern (Turkish) part of Cyprus. Legend has it that one of the heroes of Trojan war, Teucer, built the city and it became the capital of Cyprus as long ago as 1100 BC. The ruins that remain are from the Roman period. Salamis was a very important economic center. The Romans built a lot of buildings with beautiful colorful decorations and columns. Later, the city became base for the early Christianity, as Apostle Barnabas lived and died there. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the location of the third picture. Maybe, one day I could visit Cyprus and find out for myself? I sure hope so!
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Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Some history and a love story:
In the 12th century Alcobaça became the site for the construction of the Portugal's largest church. In the month of March in 1147, the fledgling King, Dom Afonso Henriques defeated the Moors by capturing the city of Santarem. As a suitable memory to this splendid victory he vowed to build a magnificent home for the Order of Cistercians. It took another 76 years before this task was completed. The monarchy continued to endow the Monastery of Alcobaça with further construction, and 60 years later King Dinis built the main cloister but it was only in 1252 that the Monastery was inaugurated within the church.
In the church are the tombs of King Pedro I and his murdered mistress, Inês de Castro. Forced at an early age by royal duty he had to marry Constanza, the Infanta of Castile, in 1336. She died in 1345, and created the opportunity for Dom Pedro to escape with his true love and live in the city of Coimbra. King Alfonso IV, his father, believing that the family of Inês to be a threat to his own kingdom, had her murdered. Shortly after the death of his father, Dom Pedro declared that he had married Inês in a prior secret ceremony in Braganca, promptly taking revenge on the killers in a very gruesome manner and exhumed her body. He presented the embalmed corpse at court with a crown on her head and demanded that all his courtiers kneel and individually pay homage to her decomposed hand. Their ornate tombs have been facing each other for 650 years (!) and on Judgement day, his first sight would be of his beloved Inês."
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Sunday, August 2, 2009
"The Hill of Crosses, Kryzių Kalnas, located 12 kilometers north of the small industrial city of Siauliai (pronounced shoo-lay) is the Lithuanian national pilgrimage center. Standing upon a small hill are many hundreds of thousands of crosses that represent Christian devotion and a memorial to Lithuanian national identity.
The city of Siauliai was founded in 1236 and occupied by Teutonic Knights during the 14th century. The tradition of placing crosses dates from this period and probably first arose as a symbol of Lithuanian defiance of foreign invaders. Since the medieval period, the Hill of Crosses has represented the peaceful resistance of Lithuanian Catholicism to oppression. In 1795 Siauliai was incorporated into Russia but was returned to Lithuania in 1918. Many crosses were erected upon the hill after the peasant uprising of 1831-63. By 1895, there were at least 150 large crosses, in 1914 200, and by 1940 there were 400 large crosses surrounded by thousands of smaller ones.
Captured by Germany in World War II, the city suffered heavy damage when Soviet Russia retook it at the war's end. From 1944 until Lithuania's independence in 1991, Siauliai was a part of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic of the USSR. During the Soviet era, the pilgrimage to the Hill of Crosses served as a vital expression of Lithuanian nationalism. The Soviets repeatedly removed Christian crosses placed on the hill by Lithuanians. Three times, during 1961, 1973 and 1975, the hill was leveled, the crosses were burned or turned into scrap metal, and the area was covered with waste and sewage. Following each of these desecrations local inhabitants and pilgrims from all over Lithuania rapidly replaced crosses upon the sacred hill. In 1985, the Hill of Crosses was finally left in peace. The reputation of the sacred hill has since spread all over the world and every year it is visited by many thousands of pilgrims. Pope John Paul II visited the Hill of Crosses in September of 1993.
The size and variety of crosses is as amazing as their number. Beautifully carved out of wood or sculpted from metal, the crosses range from three meters tall to the countless tiny examples hanging profusely upon the larger crosses. An hour spent upon the sacred hill will reveal crosses brought by Christian pilgrims from all around the world. Rosaries, pictures of Jesus and the saints, and photographs of Lithuanian patriots also decorate the larger crosses. On windy days breezes blowing through the forest of crosses and hanging rosaries produces a uniquely beautiful music."
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Ольга - Olga Nikolaevna Romanova (15 November 1895 - 17 July 1918)
Татьяна - Tatiana Nikolaevna Romanova (10 June 1897 - 17 July 1918)
Мария - Maria Nikolaevna Romanova (26 June 1899 - 17 July 1918)
Анастасия - Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova (18 June 1901 - 17 July 1918).
In childhood the grand duchesses came up with ОТМА as a sign of sibling closeness and affection for one another, writing it in their diaries. The girls were great granddaughters of Queen Victoria and although "thoroughly Russian," grew up speaking both fluent English and Russian among themselves. Whilst the family was in captivity after the Russian Revolution of 1917 they were allowed to send few letters, so the sisters often signed this nickname on cards they had written together for loved ones and friends.According to the official website of the Swedish monarchy, the Royal Family includes the following:
The King and Queen:
HM King Carl XVI Gustav (since September 15, 1973). Born on April 30, 1946.
HM Queen Silvia (since June 19, 1976). Born on December 23, 1943.
HRH Crown Princess Victoria, Duchess of Västergötland. Born on July 14, 1977.
HRH Prince Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland. Born on May 13, 1979.
HRH Princess Madeleine, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland. Born on June 10, 1982.