Monday, March 30, 2009

Turkey - İstanbul

I've received this (and other 2) wonderful card today from my new penpal Gökçe :) It shows the Sultanahmet Mosque and Haghia Sophia. I haven't been to Turkey, but I find İstanbul one of the most fascinating cities of the world and that's one of the places that I just must visit during my life! As a person, who is interested in history, I enjoy visiting old cities and towns, especially the ones which are older than my own city, so over 1000 years old. But İstanbul isn't simply an ancient city - it's a city which used to be the centre of different empires, different cultures and religions. The historic circumstances were changing, also İstanbul's name was changing, but it was always one of the most important cities in the world.

The history of Hagia Sophia is a good example of the city's history in general - it was built as a Christian patriarchal basilica in 4th century and was later turned into a mosque (and minarets were added). Now it's a museum.
The Sultanahmet Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, was built between 1609 and 1616 and is the national mosque of Turkey.

Last, but not least, as I've written in one of the posts about İstanbul bridges, I love all kind of borders :) So receiving a card, on which I can see both Europe and Asia, makes me very happy :))

Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul; historically Byzantium and later Constantinople) is the largest city in Turkey, largest city proper and second largest metropolitan area in Europe, and fourth largest city proper in the world with a population of 12.6 million. Istanbul is the cultural and financial center of Turkey. The city covers 27 districts of the Istanbul province. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the Europe (Thrace) and on the Asia (Anatolia) side of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents. In its long history, Istanbul served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). The city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. The historic areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.

Germany - Zollverein Coal Mine (DE-303990)

This card is something very special in my collection, not only because it has enriched my UNESCO collection (Don't even ask me, how many UNESCO sites do I have in my collection now... I'll tell you when I reach 100, but I'm afraid it's not going to be soon). It's special for some other reason - it's my first card showing a coal mine and the first showing the beauty of industrial objects. My opinion about the heavy industry has always been that we obviously need it for our civilisation, but it's not pretty at all - just spoiling the landscape and polluting the enviroment. And, of course, in most cases it is like that. But, as you can see, even a coal mine may be beautiful and may be a World Heritage Site. If all the constructors cared to make the industrial objects not only useful, but also look at least normal - the industrial regions wouldn't be the scariest parts of many countries :)


The Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex is a large former industrial site in the city of Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It has been inscribed into the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since December 14, 2001 and is one of the anchor points of the European Route of Industrial Heritage. The first coal mine on the premises was founded in 1847, mining activities took place from 1851 until December 23, 1986. For decades starting in the late 1950s, the two parts of the site, Zollverein Coal Mine and Zollverein Coking Plant (erected 1957−1961, closed on June 30, 1993), ranked among the largest of their kinds in Europe. Shaft 12, built in Bauhaus style, was opened in 1932 and is considered an architectural and technical masterpiece, earning it a reputation as the “most beautiful coal mine in the world”.

The Netherlands - Leiden (NL-144278)

I've never been to Leiden, but this card reminds me other Dutch cities (even Amsterdam, although the architecture is a bit different). These canals, boat trips, bridges that seem to low to go under them and a windmill in the middle of a city - it can't be any other country but The Netherlands :) According to the sender, there's a large population of students in Leiden and the country's oldest university is located there.


Leiden (in English and archaic Dutch also Leyden) is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands and has 118,000 inhabitants. It forms a single urban area with Oegstgeest, Leiderdorp, Voorschoten, Valkenburg, Rijnsburg and Katwijk, with 254,000 inhabitants. It is located on the Old Rhine, close to the cities of The Hague and Haarlem. The recreational area of the Kaag Lakes (Kagerplassen) lies just to the northeast of Leiden.

Leiden University (Dutch: Universiteit Leiden), located in the city of Leiden, is the oldest university in the Netherlands.The university was founded in 1575 by Prince William of Orange, leader of the Dutch Revolt in the Eighty Years' War. The royal Dutch House of Orange-Nassau and Leiden University still have a close relationship. The Queens Juliana and Beatrix and crown-prince Willem-Alexander studied at Leiden University. In 2005 Queen Beatrix received a rare honorary degree from Leiden University.

Today, Leiden University has six faculties, over 50 departments and more than 150 undergraduate programmes, and it enjoys an international reputation. The Academic Ranking of World Universities ranked Leiden University 71st worldwide for 2007, 20th in Europe, and second in the Netherlands. The Times Higher Education 2008 ranked Leiden University 64th in the world overall.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Egypt - The golden coffin of Tutankhamun

I received my first card from Egypt yesterday and therefore I already have cards from 60 different countries/territories in my collection :) Just not all of them are on my blog yet, because I'm still late with uploading the cards that I received several years ago :)
By the way, this card travelled from Egypt to Poland in just 3 days, which was really surprising! :)

I love this card, because looking at it I can have no doubt, which country does it come from :) I remember all the lessons about the ancient Egypt at school... That was definitely the most fascinating one of the ancient civilisations we were learning about (though we were learning only about the ones, which were in Europe or very close to Europe, like Egypt) :) I also find the Egyptian hieroglyphs very interesting... I'm generally interested in different writing systems, even if I have no idea how to read them :) Out of the ones that are still in use I especially like the Thai alphabet, it looks like flowers :)
But, let's come back to Egypt :) This card shows the tomb of Tutankhamun, an Egyptian Pharaoh, who ruled between 1333 BC and 1324 BC, so over 3300 years ago.

KV62 is the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings (Egypt) , which became famous for the wealth of treasure it contained. The tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, underneath the remains of workmen's huts built during the Ramesside Period; this explains why it was spared from the worst of the tomb depredations of that time.

The tomb was densely packed with items in great disarray. Carter was able to photograph garlands of flowers, which disintegrated when touched. Due to the state of the tomb, and to Carter's meticulous recording technique, the tomb took nearly a decade to empty, the contents all being transported to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Tutankhamun's tomb had been entered at least twice, not long after he was buried and well before Carter's discovery. The outermost doors of the shrines enclosing the king's nested coffins were left opened, and unsealed. It is estimated that 60% of the jewelry which had been stored in the "Treasury" was removed as well. After one of these ancient robberies, embalming materials from KV62 are believed to have been buried at KV54.

Ukraine - Monument commemorating the founders of Kyiv

I received this wonderful card (along with 3 other ones from the same set) from Anya, whom I sent some official cards before :) I love this set of Kyiv cards, because it's of very good quality and unusual shape. Another advantage of these cards is that they show places that are not so popular and that you can't see on all the standard Kyiv postcards. I think these cards must be brand new, because I haven't seen such ones before :))
This card shows the monument to legendar founders of Kyiv - Kyi, Schek and Khoryv and their sister Lybid. There's a tradition of visiting this monument by all the newly-weds, who get married in Kyiv :)

(alt. sp. Kiy, Kij or Kyj), Schek and Khoryv (Ukrainian: Кий, Щек, Хорив) are the three legendary brothers, sometimes mentioned along with their sister Lybid (Lybed) (Ukrainian: Либідь), who, according to the Primary Chronicle, were the founders of Kiev (Kyiv) city - now the capital of Ukraine. The legend is widely recognized as a source of Kiev's mythology and urban naming.

Archaeological excavations have shown there indeed was an ancient settlement from the 6th century. Some speculate that Kyi was a real person, a knyaz from the tribe of eastern Polans. But the majority of scholars consider them as purely mythological.

The legend of Kyi, Schek and Khoryv, and their sister Lybid, can be interpreted as an example of a common mythological process whereby geographical names are personified and incorporated into the foundation myths of a place or people, often as eponymous ancestors.

During Soviet rule in the city, Kyi, Schek, Khoryv and Lybid were depicted (standing on ancient boat) in sculpture at the river-side Navodnytsky Park. The sculpture soon became symbolic for the city and has been massively re-used since. In 2000s another statue was installed at central Maidan Nezalezhnosti square.

France - Place du Tertre in Paris

Here's the 2nd of 3 wonderful cards that I've received from Jerome :) The stamps are also very beautiful on each of these cards.
I'm not a stamp collector, although I have several albums with stamps that my parents used to collect before and that I received from my penpals. But I know there are some people, who know exactly, which stamps are valuable and which are worth nothing... And I'm not like that. I like receiving cards or letters with special stamps, especially the ones which give me some additional information about the country of their origin. I just want to be too serious about anything.
Last week I read on a philatelic website that you shouldn't overfrank the envelopes that you send to serious cover collectors, because then it's worth nothing! The value of stamps should be exactly equal the required postage... I felt a bit disappointed reading it, because sometimes, when I know that someone collects stamps, I try to choose the commemorative ones and I don't really care if their value is a bit bigger than required. And now I learn that my effort to choose more nice stamps could make the cover useless for some collectors. That's why I think it's better not to be extremely serious about anything :) It's the effort which matters and I'm very thankful for the effort that Jerome puts to send me so wonderful cards :)

I'm sorry for the offtopic :) I think I've been writing way too much recently :))
This card shows the Place du Tertre in Paris. Don't ask me, if I've been there, because I just don't remember. As I've written in my previous posts about Paris, I've been there only once and only for about 8 hours, very tired, as I was coming back from London... So I think I can't tell you much about Paris until I go there again :)

The Place du Tertre
is a square in Paris' XVIIIe arrondissement. Only a few streets away from Montmartre's Basilica of the Sacré Cœur and the Lapin Agile, it is the heart of the city's elevated Montmartre quarter.

With its many artists setting up their easels each day for the tourists, the Place du Tertre is a reminder of the time when Montmartre was the mecca of modern art. At the beginning of the 20th century, many penniless painters including Picasso and Utrillo were living there.

L'Espace Salvador Dalí, a museum principally dedicated to the sculpture and drawings of Salvador Dalí, can be found a few steps from Place du Tertre.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Uzbekistan - Samarkand

I was extremely happy to find 3 cards from Uzbekistan in my mailbox yesterday! :) Valeriy from Tashkent was very kind to answer my swaprequest and to send me 3 cards separately (written and stamped), even though I didn't ask him to do so :) Valeriy, I don't know if you read my blog, but if you do - I just want to tell you I'm very thankful for the wonderful cards you sent me! :) Спасибо большое!

I thought they would take a longer time to arrive here, but in fact they got here in just 10 days. Another nice surprise was that one of the Uzbek postcards has enriched my UNESCO collection :) Samarkand - Crossroads of Culture has been a World Heritage Site since 2001. By the way, I thought I live in an old city (1009 years old), but compared to Samarkand (2750 years old) the history of Wrocław and Poland in general seems to be so short...

One of my postcards related dreams is to receive at least one postcard from each of ex-USSR countries. There are 15 of them (or 17, if you count also Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but in my opinion they're not independent countries, at least not yet, so my goal is to receive cards from 15 countries) and I've already received cards from 8 of them (Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan), which is more than half :) But receiving cards from the missing 7 countries (Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan) will be much more difficult and I think it may take several years :) But don't you think it's good to have some goals that are hard to achieve? :)

Samarkand (Uzbek: Samarqand, Самарқанд, Persian: سمرقند, UniPers: "Samarqand"), is the second-largest city in Uzbekistan and the capital of Samarqand Province.The city is most noted for its central position on the Silk Road between China and the West, and for being an Islamic centre for scholarly study. The Bibi-Khanym Mosque remains one of the city's most famous landmarks. The Registan was the ancient centre of the city. In 2001, UNESCO inscribed the 2750-year-old city on the World Heritage List as Samarkand - Crossroads of Cultures.

Samarkand derives its name from the Old Persian asmara, Tajik Самарқанд, "stone", "rock", and Sogdian kand, "fort", "town".

Samarkand is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world
, prospering from its location on the trade route between China and the Mediterranean (Silk Road). At times Samarkand has been one of the greatest cities of Central Asia. Founded circa 700 BC by the Persians it was already the capital of the Sogdian satrapy under the Achaemenid dynasty of Persia when Alexander the Great conquered it in 329 BC Samarkand has been one of the main centres of Persian civilization from its early days.

UK - London

I received this wonderful multiview in the World Languages RR, written in Polish :) I really love it, because it's so colorful and it has... *I'm counting*... 30 pictures :) The extreme multiview cards are always on my wishlist, but having received some I can say that making a good multiview card with a lot of pictures must be difficult. A card with 30 pictures must have a good contrast, the pictures must be different (day and night views, showing different types of buildings, people, landscapes). Otherwise, it's nearly impossible to notice all the pictures and even to count them, because they seem to be too similar. Of course, I'm not a designer and I don't know, how do the professionals make postcards, but there's something about this one, which makes me call it a perfect multiview.

I've already posted some cards from London on my blog, so I'm not going to copy any info from Wikipedia :) So I'll just tell you that I regret not visiting the London Eye. It's not my fault, I've been to London just once and it was a school trip (Have I already told you that I've always hated school trips and any organised trips?) but still I think the view from London Eye must be great, even though it's moving so slowly :)

Poland - Ogrodzieniec

Here's another one of 6 cards that I received from Tomek :) And again, it shows a place that I've never been to (I think I'll have to show you some cards that I bought myself during my rare trips in Poland, not to seem a total ignorant when it comes to my own country).

By the way, I think it's an interesting topic. You see, Poland used to be a communist country before and it was quite difficult to go abroad, even to the other countries of communist block. Visiting West Europe was one of the biggest dreams of many people, but for some of them it never came true. I was born in 1991, so I don't remember those times and I'm glad about it. But even later, in my childhood, when Poland was already a democratic country, people didn't travel abroad often. I remember how happy my parents were, when they went on a trip to France, Switzerland and Spain in mid 90's. And I also remember how excited I was to cross the Polish-Czech border (which is about 100km away from my city) or to go to Germany for the first time in 2002. On the other hand, I used to travel within Poland more often and I always enjoyed visiting a new city, town or even a small village.

Now, travelling abroad is very easy and cheap. Thanks to the low-cost airlines, many people (and I don't mean only the rich part of society) can allow themselves to spend a weekend in London, Paris, Madrid... I'm not so much into flying (I'm afraid of it) and I don't feel any strong desire to visit all the famous cities, but I go to Ukraine each time I have such opportunity (For example, last year I went there for 6 times). Of course, that's a result of my own decision on how to spend my free time and it's mainly because I love Ukraine :)) But even when it comes to the school trips, students usually go abroad, because it's not so expensive anymore and also teachers think it's "more interesting" than travelling within Poland. Maybe they just want to see (and show to the students) the places that used to be out of their reach?

Of course, there's nothing wrong about going abroad and it's good we've been using the opportunities that European Union gives us. But, it's a bit strange feeling to realize that I know other countries better than my own, even though I've never lived abroad. It doesn't mean I'm going to do something about it... Still, I'm looking forward to having 6 days off for Easter and I'm not going to spend them in Poland... Just sharing my thoughts with you :) And I'd love to hear your opinion about it :)

I'm really sorry for this offtopic, I just felt I had to write it :) I'm coming back to the postcard from Ogrodzieniec :)

Ogrodzieniec is located in the Silesian Voivodeship (region) of Poland. It is noted for the extensive ruins of a medieval castle, damaged during the Swedish invasion of Poland in the years 1655–1660. That's what the English Wikipedia tells us. As I can read Polish, I can add some information ;) The first castle at that place was built in the 12th century and was destroyed during the Tatar invasion. A gothic castle was built there in 14th century and rebuilt in 16th century. As I've mentioned above, it was destroyed during the Polish-Swedish and wasn't rebuilt anymore. The last inhabitants left the Ogrodzieniec castle in 1810.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Russia - Aurora borealis in Chukotka

Yesterday I wrote on my blog that I would love to receive a card showing aurora borealis and today I received 2(!) - from Russia and from Finland :) Isn't that funny? :) And no, they were not sent yesterday evening :) Actually, I received 14 postcards today, including these 2 with aurora borealis, 3 showing trains/railways, 3 from Ukraine and 3 from an absolutely new country in my collection, so it's been my best postcard day ever :)))

This wonderful card shows the aurora borealis in Anadyr (Russian: Анадырь), which is the administrative centre of Chukotka. Have you ever heard of this region? That's the most north-eastern one and actually it's close to Alaska :) The interesting thing is that the easternmost point of Russia is located on the Western hemisphere, but there are no big settlements. Anadyr is on the Eastern hemisphere (Coordinates: 64°44′N 177°31′E) and is the biggest town of Chukotka, with only about 11 000 inhabitants.

When Nastya, who lives in Anadyr, joined the RR that I host on postcrossing forum, I immediatelly asked her for swap, because Russia is one of the countries that I'm really interested in and Chukotka seems to be one of the most mysterious of this great country. I was really glad, when Nastya agreed to swap, but I'd never expect receiving such a brilliant card :) I think I don't have to tell you that it's going to be one of my all time favorites now? :)

Anadyr (Russian: Ана́дырь, Chukchi: Кагыргын, Kagyrgyn) is a town and the administrative centre of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, the extreme north-eastern region of Russia. It is at the mouth of the Anadyr River, on the tip of the southern promontory that sticks out into Anadyrskiy Liman. At 177°30′E, Anadyr is the easternmost town in Russia and Eurasia. It was founded on August 3, 1889 as Novo-Mariinsk, and renamed on August 5, 1923. Town status was granted on January 12, 1965.

Chukotka is the most northeasterly region of Russia and, since the sale of Alaska to the United States, has been the only part of Russia lying partially in the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered on the east by the Bering Sea, part of the Pacific Ocean, and to the north by the Chukchi Sea and the East Siberian Sea, which are part of the Arctic Ocean. Chukotka has an area of 737,700 km2 (284,800 sq mi) and a population of 53,824 according to the 2002 Census. The principal town and administrative center is Anadyr.

Hungary - Székesfehérvár (HU-17593)

This nice multiview shows the Székesfehérvár city in Hungary. Don't ask me, how to pronounce it :))) I think Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages, at least among the ones used in Europe. It's an Finno-Ugric language, so it belongs to the same group as Finnish and Estonian, but I can hardly see any similarity (of course, I'm not a linguist and I can't speak any Finno-Ugric language, so I can just compare some words and sometimes the pronouncation). The only languages that are considered to be really close to Hungarian are spoken in the region of Ural mountains in Russia.


Székesfehérvár, colloquial Hungarian: Fehérvár, is a city in central Hungary, located around 65 km (40 mi) southwest of Budapest. It is inhabited by 106,346 people (2001), with 138,995 in the direct vicinity, and is the centre of Fejér county and the regional centre of Central Transdanubia. In the Middle Ages the city was a royal residence and the most important city of Hungary. 37 kings and 39 queens consort were crowned, 15 rulers have been buried here, the diets were held and the crown jewels were kept here.

The city's name means "white castle with the chair/seat", and its translations to other languages (Latin: Alba Regia, Serbian: Столни Београд, Stolni Beograd, Slovak: Stoličný Belehrad, Czech: Stoličný Bělehrad, Croatian: Stolni Biograd, Polish: Białogród Królewski).

The word szék (meaning "seat" as "throne") is related to its important role in the first centuries of the Kingdom of Hungary: székhely means a (royal) residence, center. In accordance of the obligation from the Doctrine of the Holy Crown, the first kings of Hungary were crowned and buried here.

Austria - A painting by Joachim de Patinier in Museum of Art History, Vienna (US-336722)

I receive art cards rather rarely and I think there's something good about it, even though I enjoy receiving them. My knowledge about art is very limited, I'm not one of those people, who often go to galleries and can spend a whole day there. I've been to several galleries so far, but when my brain gets too much information in a subject that I have no idea about (like art) - nothing lasts in my memory. I think in my case there's more use of receiving art cards sometimes :) You see, when I have just one painting, I look at it carefully, I'm looking for interesting details, then I google for some further information... And I think it actually makes me learn a bit more about art. The other reason which makes me like this card is that I like religious art.

This card was sent from the USA, but I decided to label it as Austria, because it was issued by the Museum of Art History (Kunsthistorisches Museum) in Vienna. This painting, called Baptism of Christ, was painted by Joachim de Patinier about 1515. He was Flemish Northern Renaissance history and landscape painter from the area of modern Wallonia.


In this painting the religious scene in the foreground and the broad landscape that surrounds it share an equal importance. Landscape was Patinier’s favourite subject, but he felt compelled to justify it by the inclusion of the baptism of Christ in the foreground. The eye of the viewer is drawn as much to the bizarre rock formation in the middle distance, with the River Jordan circling round it, as it is to the figures depicted in the foreground. Despite the seemingly disparate themes of landscape and religious narrative, Patinier is able to unify them. The central rock formation occupies a spit of land that juts into the pictorial space from the left. The land formation provides a narratively separate space for the sermon of John the Baptist in the Wilderness. In the far distance, the view widens to a panoramic landscape. The overall blue tone of this portion of the landscape results from Patinier’s understanding use of aerial perspective.

I'm not sure if I should post also the stamps along with an art card, but in this case stamps are very nice and are not the standard ones, so I decided to share them with you too.

Monday, March 23, 2009

USA - State Flags

This card is something that I absolutely love :)) I haven't received any card with so many flags on it before! Actually, this card is quite inspirating for me, because it makes me want to learn more about some states, about their history and the origin of flags. I read all the names of states and the only one which doesn't sound familiar at all is Delaware. But no, it doesn't mean that I know the geography of United States so well... I know the location of some 15 or 20 states. The other names I know... probably from the American movies. I nearly never go to cinema and I rarely watch TV, but most of movies that I've watched in my life were American, so the names of states just stayed in my memory.
Maybe I should try to collect cards from all the 50 states? I'm not sure if I'd ever reach this goal, but at least I'd learn US geography much better :)

Some offtopic
: As it was my birthday yesterday, my granny gave me 2 big photo albums (300 photos each) to store my postcards, at least the ones of standard size :) Can you image, how happy I am about it? :)) I spent several hours putting my cards into the albums (and I haven't finnished yet) and now I can clearly see that these 2 albums won't be enough very soon :) I want to thank everyone who has helped me to fill these albums with postcards and made me smile each time I found cards in my mailbox :)

Finland - The Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki (FI-492921)

I think I've already told you before that I like receiving city views from Finland :) In fact, I haven't received any Finnish card that I wouldn't like so far, but I prefer the city views just because the Finnish cities are less known than the landscapes. Still, there's something about the Finnish nature that I would like to see on a postcard :) I mean the northern lights (aurora borealis). I know that it's typical not only for Finland, but I think that probablity of receiving such card from Finland is higher, than from any other country, just because of the number of Finnish postcrossers :)

Dear reader of my blog, if you live in Finland (or any other country, where it's possible to get a card showing the aurora borealis), I would be really thankful if you agreed to exchange cards from me! :)

But let's come back to this card, which I find really beautiful and interesting as well :) It shows the Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki. It's considered to be the biggest Orthodox church in West Europe. Well, I wouldn't call Finland a West European country, because I live West from Finland and I'm proud of being East European :))) But I think the division into West and East Europe is based mostly on historical, political and cultural reasons. So I think that Finns are right in some way... And it's always nice to have something biggest in your country :)


Uspenski Cathedral (Finnish: Uspenskin katedraali, Swedish: Uspenskij-katedralen, Russian: Успенский собор) is an Eastern Orthodox cathedral in Helsinki, Finland, dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary). Its name comes from the Russian word uspenie, which denotes the Dormition. Designed by the Russian architect Alexey Gornostaev (1808-1862), the cathedral was built after his death in 1862-1868. The Cathedral is set upon a hillside on the Katajanokka peninsula overlooking the city. On the back of the cathedral, there is a plaque commemorating Russian Emperor Alexander II, who was the sovereign of the Grand Duchy of Finland during the cathedral's construction. Main cathedral of the Finnish Orthodox Church in the diocese of Helsinki, Uspenski Cathedral is claimed to be the largest orthodox church in Western Europe, although Finland is normally included into Northern Europe.

Switzerland - Matterhorn

It seems that I've been receiving many cards sent from somewhere else that the country of their origin last weeks. I don't mind it at all, it even enlarges the surprise factor, especially in the unoffical exchange, where I think I know what to expect :)

For example, this card was sent from Germany (I received it in the World Languages RR, written in Polish), but shows Matterhorn, which is probably the most famous mountain of Switzerland. I've been to Alps once and I spent most of time in France (more precisely, in Chamonix) and I also visited Italy (only the Aosta Valley - and it's been my only visit to Italy so far, but I can always say I've been to this country) and Switzerland. Of course, I haven't climbed Matterhorn (I doubt if I could climb any hight mountain) and I haven't even seen it, but the landscape shown on this card reminds me those several days that I spent in Alps :)

The Matterhorn (German), Cervino (Italian) or Cervin (French), is a mountain in the Pennine Alps. With its 4,478 metres (14,692 ft) high summit, lying on the border between Switzerland and Italy, it is one of the highest peaks in the Alps and its 1,200 metres (3,937 ft) north face is one of the Great north faces of the Alps. It is also one of the deadliest peaks in the Alps: from 1865 to 1995, in fact, over 500 alpinists have found their death on its faces. The mountain overlooks the town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais on the north and Cervinia in the Aosta Valley on the south. Although not the highest mountain in Switzerland, the Matterhorn is considered as an iconic emblem of the region of the Swiss Alps.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Macau - The Statue of Mazu (A-Ma) (GB-63866)

This card was sent from the UK, but actually it comes from Macau and therefore it's my first card from this territory :) This increasement of the number of countries/territories that I have postcards from was totally unexpected, so I was really excited to find this card in my mailbox :)
It shows the statue of Mazu (also called A-Ma) goddess, 19,99 meters high, in Macau. According to the sender, A-Ma is a goddess of particular importance in Macau. People believe that she saves the sailors.


(simplified Chinese: 妈祖; traditional Chinese: 媽祖; pinyin: Māzǔ; Wade-Giles: Ma-tsu; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Má-chó·; literally "Mother-Ancestor"), also spelt Matsu, is the indigenous goddess of the sea who protects fishermen and sailors, and is invoked as the goddess who protects East Asians who are associated with the ocean. Her mortal name is Lin Moniang (Chinese: 林默娘; pinyin: Lín Mòniáng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Lîm Be̍k-niû).

According to legend, Lin Moniang was born in 960 AD (during the early Northern Song Dynasty) as the seventh daughter of Lin Yuan (林愿) on Meizhou Island, Fujian. She did not cry when she was born, and thus her given name means "Silent Girl."
There are many legends about her and the sea.

After her death, the families of many fishermen and sailors began to pray to her in honor of her acts of courage in trying to save those at sea. Her worship spread quickly. Much of her popularity in comparison to other sea deities resulted from her role as a compassionate motherly protector, in contrast to authoritarian father figures like the Dragon Kings.

Czech Republic - Brno

I received this wonderful multivew in the World Languages RR, written in Czech :) I've never been to Brno, although I had an opportunity to go there (and to Vienna) on a school trip several years ago. But as I've always hated the school trips (and organised trips in general), I didn't go and I hope I'll have another opportunity to visit Brno myself :)

Brno is the second-largest city in the Czech Republic. It was founded in 1243, although the area had been settled since the 5th century. Today Brno has 403,304 inhabitants and is the seat of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, Supreme Court, Supreme Administrative Court, Supreme Prosecutor's Office and Ombudsman.
Brno is located in the southeast part of the country, at the confluence of the Svitava and Svratka rivers. The city is a political and cultural hub of the South Moravian Region (estimated population of 1,130,000 for the whole region). At the same time, it represents the centre of the province of Moravia, one of the historic lands of the Bohemian Crown. It is situated at the crossroads of ancient trade routes which have joined northern and southern European civilizations for centuries. Due to its location between the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands and the Southern Moravian lowlands, Brno has a moderate climate.

Germany - a forest near Rechtenbach (DE-294060)

I received this card as an official from Germany some time ago. Even though it doesn't show anything very unusual and I actually couldn't tell, which country it is just looking at the card, I like it because of it's colors and contrast (I'm not sure if you can see it here, especially because my scanner isn't a very good one). According to the information on the back side of the postcard, it's a forst near Rechtenbach in Bavaria.


I used to spend a lot of time in forests during the summer holidays before. My grandparents live in a region with many forests, lakes and hills, but which is a very famous tourist destination, which makes it a very nice and peaceful place to spend holidays. I especially enjoyed going on bike trips and picking the mushrooms :) Now I don't spend my holidays there anymore, but if I have an opportunity to go there for a few days, I always go for a walk to the forest. It really calms me down.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ukraine - The Independence Square in Kyiv (UA-6101)

As you can see, I've received my 2nd official card from Ukraine! :) I'm starting to think I'm very lucky! :) This one shows the Independence Square (Майдан Незалежності - Maidan Nezalezhnosti) in Kyiv. It's the main square of the Ukraine's capital and is also known for the Orange Revolution, which took place there in 2004. Now I don't associate it with politics anymore, but still, that was the moment when I became interested in Ukraine :)
I went to Kyiv for the first time in 2007 and it was a great feeling to see the Independence Square :) I was a bit surprised, because on the TV it looked much bigger than it is in fact. I love going to Maidan each time I'm in Kyiv. The main post office of Kyiv is located there, so I just couldn't miss any opportunity to go there :D


This card was sent in an envelope, but here are the stamps:

Maidan Nezalezhnosti
(Ukrainian: Майдан Незалежності, literally: Independence Square) is the central square of Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine. One of the main city squares, it is located on the Khreschatyk Street. The square was known under many different names but it became prominent as simply the Maidan due to the political events of great significance that took place there in the recent years after the Ukrainian accession to independence.

"Maidan" literally translates from Ukrainian as square; this word originally came from Persian. It received its current name in 1991 in the aftermath of the Ukrainian accession to independence. Nezalezhnist (independence) commemorates the Ukrainian independence achieved in 1991 in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

France - Normandy

I received this wonderful card (with really interesting and unusual stamps!) in a swap from Jerome :) By the way, you can visit his blog and send a postcard or letter to his 6 year-old daughter, who collects stamps from around the world :) Her dad, Jerome, makes donations for Kiva (a project, where you can lend money to people from poor countries so that they can develop their business) for each 50 stamps they receive. I think it's a great idea to help the girl to develop her interest in philately and the people, who need some money to change their lives, so don't hesitate to visit this site: :)

This card shows different towns in Normandy region of France. I've been to Etretat and Le Mont Saint-Michel last year. I found both places very beautiful, especially Le Mont Saint-Michel is a real masterpiece of architecture, the view is breathtaking. By the way, Le Mont Saint-Michel and Le Havre are UNESCO sites. I have another card that I bought there and of course I'm going to show it to you as well :)

Normandy (French: Normandie, Norman: Normaundie) is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is situated along the coast of France south of the English Channel between Brittany (to the west) and Picardy (to the east) and comprises territory in northern France and the Channel Islands. The territory is divided between French and British sovereignty. The continental territory under French sovereignty covers 30,627 km². It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions: Basse-Normandie and Haute-Normandie. The Channel Islands (referred to as Îles Anglo-Normandes in French) covers 194 km² and comprise 2 bailiwicks: Guernsey and Jersey, both under British rule.

The name of Normandy is derived from the settlement and conquest of the territory by Vikings ("Northmen") from the 9th century, and confirmed by treaty in the 10th century. For a century and a half following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Normandy and England were linked by Norman rulers, but following 1204 the continental territory was ultimately held by France.

Australia - Mile End Railway Museum (AU-37394)

This postcard shows the South Australian Railways Locomotive No. 93 at the Mile End Railway Museum in Australia. As I read on Wikipedia, this museum was closed in 1988, but a new one was opened in Port Adelaide. Several weeks ago I added trains and railways to my wishlist, because I've always loved travelling by train and I decided it would be very interesting to see the trains from other countries and continents :) But I haven't even dreamed of receiving a card showing an Australian locomotive! I really love this card and I'm so thankful to the sender for choosing a card from my wishlist!


You may ask, why do I like trains so much? It's difficult to answer such question. When I was a child, I used to travel by train quite often, because I have relatives in different cities and my parents didn't have a car. I always enjoyed these trips very much, although it seemed to me that 350 km was a very large distance :)) That was because I didn't have opportunity to travel abroad (I used to visit only Czech Republic, which is about 100 km away from here) at that time. Now that I visit Ukraine quite often, I know what it feels like to spend 24 hours in a train from Wrocław (my city) to Kyiv or 22 hours from Ternopil (Western Ukraine) to Donetsk (Eastern Ukraine). For me it's never boring! Even though nowadays it's much quicker (and often also cheaper) to travel by plane, I always choose the train (by the way, I'm afraid of flying, although I've already travelled by plane for 28 times). I just love the sound of wheels moving slowly on the railway, sleeping in a night train, looking through the window... In some countries (for example in Ukraine) many people tend to be very talkative in trains and I've had many interesting conversations during my trips :) I hope you can understand me... :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Turkey - Cappadocia (TR-16107)

I received this wonderful card as an official from Turkey. According to the sender, these natural "fairy chimneys", located in mid-Turkey, were created by wind. Some of the caves used to be inhabited. I guess that living inside these caves was very hard, but now it's a really interesting view. It also shows the great power of wind and water, which cause erosion and give the rocks so unusual shapes. The Rock Sites of Cappadocia region are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


In a spectacular landscape, entirely sculpted by erosion, the Göreme valley and its surroundings contain rock-hewn sanctuaries that provide unique evidence of Byzantine art in the post-Iconoclastic period. Dwellings, troglodyte villages and underground towns – the remains of a traditional human habitat dating back to the 4th century – can also be seen there.

Poland - Częstochowa

I thought it was strange to have a collection of postcards from different countries all around the world and not to have any cards from my own country :) So, I decided to improve it. Thanks to Tomek, I have 6 beautiful cards from different places in Poland that I haven't been to and I decided to buy some cards myself during my weekend trip to Northern Poland. I'm going to show you the ones that I've bought myself later and here's first of the cards that I've received in a swap.

I've never been to Częstochowa (to be honest, I travel abroad more often than within my own country). It's known mostly for the Jasna Góra Monastery, which is probably the most important place of pilgrimage for Polish Catholics.

The Jasna Góra Monastery (Polish: Jasna Góra, English: Bright Mount, Hungarian: Fényes Hegy, Latin: Clarus Mons) in Częstochowa, Poland is the most famous shrine to the Virgin Mary in Poland and the country's greatest place of pilgrimage - for many its spiritual capital. The image of Black Madonna of Częstochowa, to which miraculous powers are attributed, is Jasna Góra's most precious treasure. Founded in 1382 by Pauline monks who came from Hungary at the invitation of Władysław, Duke of Opole. The monastery has been a pilgrimage destination for hundreds of years, and it contains the most important icon of the Virgin Mary in this part of Europe. The icon, depicting the Mother of God with the Christ Child, is known as the Black Madonna of Częstochowa or Our Lady of Częstochowa, which is widely venerated and credited with many miracles. Among these, it is credited with miraculously saving the Jasna Góra monastery during a siege that took place at the time of The Deluge, a 17th century Swedish invasion. Although this event was of little military importance, the event stimulated the Polish resistance. The Poles could not immediately change the course of the war but after an alliance with the Crimean Khanate they repulsed the Swedes. Shortly thereafter, in the cathedral of Lwów, on April 1, 1656, Jan Kazimierz, the King of Poland, solemnly pronounced his vow to consecrate the country to the protection of the Mother of God and proclaimed Her the Patron and Queen of the lands in his kingdom.

The Netherlands - The Peace Palace in The Hague (NL-143081)

This beautiful card shows The Peace Palace in The Hague. I love this kind of Dutch cards, I have similar one from Rotterdam (I just haven't posted it yet, as I usually post the cards that I receive now and I'm a bit late with posting the cards that I received from my penpals several years ago). This palace seems to be built in neogothic style. I like some neogothic buildings, for example churches, palaces, the railway station in my city... But, there are also some schools and hospitals built in this style and they seem very scary at the first sight :) I've been learning at such school (built in neogothic style about 1900) and I couldn't get used to it for several months. But, in my opinion, this palace is an example of really good architecture.


The Peace Palace ("Vredespaleis" in Dutch), situated in The Hague, Netherlands, is often called the seat of international law because it houses the International Court of Justice (which is the principal judicial body of the United Nations), the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the extensive Peace Palace Library.

In addition to hosting these institutions, the Palace is also a regular venue for special events in international policy and law.

The idea of the Palace started from a discussion in 1900 between the Russian diplomat Friedrich Martens and the American diplomat Andrew White, over providing a home for the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which was established through the first Hague Peace Conference in 1899. White contacted his friend and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie about this idea. Carnegie had his reservations, and at first was only interested in donating money for the establishment of a Library of International Law. White however was able to convince Carnegie, and in 1903 Carnegie agreed to donating 1.5 million dollars needed for a Peace Temple that would house the PCA as well as to endow it with a library of international law.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Latvia - Sigulda

Here's my first card from Latvia! :) Guntra was very kind to send it to me after receiving an official card from me. This card shows the beautiful landscapes of Sigulda, which is a town in Vidzeme region. I especially like the picture showing the Gauja river valley. Unfortunately, I haven't been to any to Latvia yet, but I think it would be very interesting to take a trip to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. My friends went on a bike trip to these countries 2 years ago, but I'm not so much into sport, so I think that would be to hard for me. Anyway, there are many other ways of travelling (with the train being my favorite), so I think there's something I can do myself to visit the Baltic countries :)

is a town in the Vidzeme Region of Latvia, 53 km from the capital city Riga.

Sigulda is situated on a picturesque stretch of the primeval Gauja river valley. Because of the reddish Devonian sandstone which forms steep rocks and caves on both banks of the river, Sigulda has been called the "Switzerland of Vidzeme".

After the restoration of Latvian independence in 1991, an emphasis was placed on conserving Sigulda's public monuments and parks as well as improving the town's tourist sector. Supported by the town council, a traditional Opera Festival takes place in an open-air music hall in the castle ruins each summer. A Town Festival is celebrated in May when cherry trees blossom, while Sigulda is known for the colors of its trees in autumn. Sports such as skiing, bobsledding, and the luge are popular in wintertime and bungee jumping is practiced during the rest of the year.

Taiwan - Taroko Gorge (TW-34228)

This beautiful card shows the Taroko Gorge, located in the Taroko National Park in the East of Taiwan. I read a bit more about this country several days ago, when I got a Taiwanese address to send an official card to (of course, that's not the first one, but sometimes I don't notice interesting things immediatelly). I found it a bit strange that most of big cities and main roads are located on the West coast of Taiwan. Then I learned, that there were high mountains with wonderful landscapes in the Central and Eastern part of the island. I may know all the countries and their capital cities, but I'm still a bit ignorant, when it comes to physic geography of continents other than Europe. But I'll improve it, I promise :)


Taroko National Park (traditional Chinese: 太魯閣國家公園; pinyin: Tàilǔgé gúojiā gōngyuán; Taiwanese POJ: Taroko kok-ka kong-hn̂g) is one of the seven national parks in Taiwan and was named after the Taroko Gorge, the landmark gorge of the park. It spans the counties of Hualien, Taichung, and Nantou on the island of Taiwan.

The name, Taroko, means the "magnificent and beautiful". Long ago a tribesman of the Truku aboriginal tribe saw the beauty of the azure Pacific when he walked out of the gorge. Astonished by the elegance of the scene, he cried: "Taroko!". And so it became the name of the place, in fashion not dissimilar to how the island, Formosa, got its name.