Lithuania - Kaunas 1919-1939: The Capital Inspired by the Modern Movement

"During the period 1918 to 1940, Lithuania was one of the newly restored states that had formed in Central and Eastern Europe on a national-territorial basis after the First World War. Vilnius, its historic capital, had been lost in 1919, and Kaunas became the new capital city. Formerly a modest Imperial Russian garrison town, it suddenly acquired a new importance on the map of Europe. Its status as capital provided an impulse to accelerate its integration into the political, social and cultural context of interwar Europe, through material and non-material forms, such as architecture, diplomacy, culture and education. During a short but very intense period, Kaunas lived through the most important phase in its historical development. The years from 1919 to 1939 were a time of revolutionary cultural breakthroughs for Kaunas, which was especially evident in architecture. Its status as a capital city provoked a huge construction boom, aiming to create all the necessary infrastructure: government institutions, museums, educational institutions (a university, academies and schools), business offices, hotels, industrial premises, housing, and the general infrastructure of the city (water supplies, the sewerage system, a new transport system, roads and parks). The architectural landscape of multicultural Kaunas was enriched by the buildings of various ethnic communities, such as churches, banks and schools, with distinctive forms of expression (in 1937 the population of the city was 61% Lithuanian, 25.5% Jewish, 3.9% Polish, 3.3% German, and 3.3% Russian). In 1938, it attracted 68% of all Lithuanian investment in the construction of towns and cities. The area of the city expanded more than seven times (from 557 hectares in 1919 to 3,940 hectares in 1939). More than 6,000 buildings from this period have survived till today."

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

A modernistic building of Kaunas. Thanks to Ieva of Lithuania.

India - Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysala (Belur, Halebid - Karnataka)

"Ensembles at Belur, Karnataka; Ensembles at Halebid, Karnataka

The Hoysala era is one that contributed enormously to the development of several creative fields as well as spiritual and humanistic thought. During their reign, the Hoysalas built more than 1500 temples all across their empire of which only a little over 100 survive today. Art historians recognize the exceptionally intricate sculptural artistry of the Chennakeshava temple at Belur and the Hoysaleshwara temple at Halebid to be among the masterpieces of South Asian art making the name of Hoysala synonymous with artistic achievement.

In addition to supporting both Shaivite and Vaishnavite sects of Hinduism, the Hoysala rulers gave court recognition and status to Jainism, a religion that prescribes a path of non-violence and self-control as paths to spiritual liberation and emphasizes the equality of all beings. They were not only inclusive of the plural religious following but the sacred ensembles were important agents in the development of the spiritual beliefs of Vaishanavism, Shaivism, and Jainism through interpretations in sculpture, poetry, music, classical dance, and Kannada literature.

Sacred Enesemble of the Hoysala at Belur
Belur was the first capital city of the Hoysalas. The Chennakeshava temple complex was at the center of the old walled town located on the banks of the Yagachi River. The complex itself was walled in a rectangular campus with four rectilinear streets around it for ritual circumambulation of the deity. Construction of the temple commenced in 1117 AD and took a 103 years to complete. A total of 118 stone inscriptions have been recovered from the temple complex covering a period from 1117 to 18th century, giving details of the artists employed, grants made to the temple and renovations done.

The Chennakeshava temple was devoted to Vishnu. The richly sculptured exterior of the temple includes sculptures and iconography and horizontal friezes that depict scenes from daily life, music, and dance, and narrate scenes from the life of Vishnu and his reincarnations and the epics, Ramayana, and Mahabharata. However, some of the representations of Shiva are also included. Consecrated on a sacred site, the temple has remained continuously worshipped since its establishment and remains until today as a site of pilgrimage for Vaishnavites."

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Chennakesava Temple, Belur, India. Thanks to Nagi of India.

Bangladesh - Lalbagh Fort

"A palace fortress constructed by Prince Muhammed Azam, third son of Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb, 1678-9. Continued by the next viceroy, Shaista Khan, its building stopped after the death of his daughter, Iran Dukht, whose tomb is one of the monuments on the site, which also includes an audience hall with attached hammam, a mosque, etc."

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Mosque in Lalbagh Fort, Bangladesh. Thanks to Aditis of Bangladesh.

Lithuania - Trakai Historical National Park

"Trakai Park lies in the eastern part of the Lithuanian Republic, 25 km to the west of the capital city, Vilnius. Trakai Park stands in the Dzukija Upland area of the Baltic uplands at a height of 102-228 m above sea level. It covers an area of wooded lake land in eastern Dzukija, which is centred on the historical town of Trakai. Trakai Park was founded in 1991 by the Lithuanian Restoration Seimas in order to preserve cultural sites of Lithuanian historical statehood along with their genuine natural environs. In this unique and compact ensemble of natural and cultural heritage, which reflects important periods and events in the history of Lithuania and eastern Europe as a whole, we can see a beautifully preserved cultural landscape centred on an historic town and castles which are nestled in lake land. Here there are traditional agricultural villages, fieldscapes and areas where primaeval natural formations still survive. The value of Trakai Park has been preserved finely and its special status has been recognised and protected by a whole body of national legislation. The landscape of Trakai Park exudes particular beauty; in part this is natural and in part it is manmade.." 

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Postcard 1
Beautiful Trakai Island Castle in Lithuania. Thanks again to Klina who visited Trakai on a Baltic tour.

Postcard 2
Aerial view of Trakai National Park with a matching stamp. Thanks to iEva of Lithuania.

Germany - Residence Ensemble Schwerin – Cultural Landscape of Romantic Historicism

"As a complex of buildings in an exceptional state of preservation, the Residence Ensemble Schwerin is an outstanding example of the last flourishing of court culture in the 19th century. It epitomises the representation of small German states and was created between 1825 and 1883 under the grand dukes Friedrich Franz I, Paul Friedrich and Friedrich Franz II. The heart of the ensemble is the residential castle. The castle complex was expanded into the urban area with the construction of buildings for court and public administration. These buildings include the Erbprinzenpalais (“palace of the hereditary prince”), Kollegiengebäude (governmental building), court theatre and museum for the grand-ducal art collections, which were built in close proximity to each other around the residence square known as the “Alter Garten”. Their architecture complements the square as a symbolic centre of the state and a forecourt and festive prelude to the castle. The square, with the complex of buildings orientated towards the castle and water, has a special urban-architectural quality. However, the Residence Ensemble includes many other buildings, such as the churches, defensive barracks for guarding the grand-ducal residence, the Neustädtisches Palais (“New Town Palace”) and functional buildings, such as the Marstall complex (former grand-ducal stables) or the Hofwäscherei (“court laundry”). All of these buildings have a multifaceted visual reference to each other and to the lake-studded landscape of Schwerin."

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Schweriner Schloss in Mecklenburg. Thanks to Svenja of Germany.

France - Funerary and memorial sites of the First World War (West Front)

"The serial property contains a significant collection of funerary and memorial sites resulting from the First World War, a major break in the history of humanity. They were formed during or after the tragedy of 1914-1918, on the area of ​​the western front that stretched from the North Sea to the Franco-Swiss border. The selection consists of 105 elements (80 for France and 25 for Belgium) strictly selected from a set of several thousand cemeteries, necropolises and memorials on the western front. These elements are representative of the great diversity of nations and peoples who have been involved in this global conflict, of a magnitude never before reached. They compose a memorial landscape representative of the geographical extent of the front as a whole (more than 700 km), the great moments of its history and its evolution during the war.

Source: UNESCO World Heritage List

Le Linge Cimetiere du Wettstein is one of the serial cemetries in France. Thanks to Marie who visited this location and mailed from France.

Portugal - Historical Lisbon, Global City

"Lisbon has witnessed the meeting and exchange of cultures that took place in the city throughout the centuries, from the diverse peoples who settled there since the 7th century B.C. and left their cultural mark, to the globalisation generated by the Portuguese discoveries, when the city became a precursor to the maritime exploration of the 15th and 16th centuries, transforming it into the largest port in the European Atlantic and inspiring the construction of new cities all across the world. As a consequence of the extensive dialogue of civilisations that Lisbon established with Europe, Africa, America, and the East, which is reflected in the historic city centre, Lisbon stands out due to several features such as the exquisite manner in which it blends the diverse urban layouts and noteworthy buildings that are its hallmark, a testimony to the Roman, Islamic, and European cultures that shaped it; the unique way in which it has been adapted to a rugged terrain, which extends all the way to the riverfront; the setting for comings and goings during the days of the discoveries; and a mixture of monuments, squares, and port heritage, which are the traces of a former intense maritime and commercial activity. Set between hills punctuated by belvederes with idyllic scenery, the Enlightenment-era urban layout is a standout feature, designed according to the unique Pombalino plan following the devastating 1755 earthquake that destroyed the city centre. As a palimpsest, the city bears the traces of the successive transformations that have adapted it to new dynamics, from the silting of the river to reconstructions following the devastating earthquakes it endured, promoting the reintegration of past values, thus allowing it to create a narrative of its history. This multi-faceted city was the stage for multiple cultural expressions, which have been retained and reinterpreted, conferring it with a unique quality, preserving its cultural identity, and reinforcing its inhabitants' roots. Azulejo (tiles), artistic cobbled streets, and fado (traditional Portuguese music), recently added to the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, are the ultimate exponents of these cultural expressions. The property includes the following areas of the city: The area surrounded by the Cerca Fernandina defensive wall, which is home to the city's oldest defensive structures, as well as the oldest settlements in Lisbon: Castelo, Sé, Alfama, Baixa, Chiado, and Pena, structures and neighbourhoods (bairros) that exhibit influences from an array of civilisations from the Roman, Islamic, Medieval, and Enlightenment periods. Also included are the adjacent medieval areas of Mouraria, São Vicente, and Santa Clara. The old Jesuit Colleges of Santo Antão-o-Velho and Santo Antão-o-Novo, both 16th-century constructions of significant cultural value, not only as architectural heritage but also as sites of innovative scientific teaching that contributed hugely to the field of navigation. 

The Renaissance-era Bairro Alto neighbourhood, constructed following the population boom fuelled by the Portuguese discoveries, extends to the riverfront via the Bica neighbourhood, with its exceptional topography resulting from an earthquake that was embraced by the urban fabric. Also included is the 16th-century Mocambo neighbourhood in Madragoa, by the western approach to the city, which at that time was a suburb, inhabited by fishermen and the African population. Noviciado da Cotovia, a Jesuit college established in the 17th century as a seat of scientific learning, the attached botanical garden, which is home to a vast array of plant species, including ancient and tropical species, and the neighbouring Príncipe Real Square, where the Society of Jesus began constructing a college, destroyed by the earthquake. And the riverfront, between Cais do Sodré and Santa Apolónia, an area of embankments since the Manuelino period. Of the viewpoints, which are privileged spots affording panoramic views over the characteristic features of the urban landscape and river, those of most significant value are included: Santa Catarina, São Pedro de Alcântara, Castelo de São Jorge, Graça, Campo de Santa Clara, Portas do Sol, and Santa Luzia."

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Bairro Alto - Elevador da Bica, Lisboa, Portugal. Thanks to Isidoro of Portugal.

Morocco - Oasis of Figuig

"Figuig is an oasis located in the southeastern tip of Morocco about 400 km south of the Mediterranean and 7 km from the Algerian town of Beni Ounif. It is surrounded on all three sides by Algeria; but the border between the two countries is now closed, which has resulted in the isolation and isolation of the city, which has experienced an intense migratory movement, which can be explained by the abrupt reduction of its economic resources. This, in part, caused a significant deterioration of its heritage, hence the urgency of its ranking.

Over the years, the oasis society of Figuig has developed a specific earthen architecture that materializes the structures of its organization and the social, cultural and cultural practices that constitute an immaterial heritage of great importance. Thus, Figuig is an oasis that has preserved from its history exceptional remains that today represent material wealth material; architectural and archaeological important: great walls, ramparts, watchtowers, mosques, mausoleums, irrigation channels ... not to mention the rock engravings mentioned above. But this heritage is also agro-environmental, evidenced by the water sources, which are at the origin of the establishment of the ksour, the gardens associated with the palm grove and its irrigation system."

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Moroccan man with baby camel at Figuig Oasis, near Algeria border. Thanks to Ferro of Belgium who visited Morocco.

Austria - Großglockner High Alpine Road / Großglockner Hochalpenstraße

"The Großglockner High Alpine Road is a mountain pass road and, together with the Schloss Schönbrunn, one of the most important touristic landmarks in Austria. The impressive setting of this alpine scenic route combines the art of mountain road construction with a singular nature and landscape experience, running through the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park, protected since 1992, one of the largest nature reserves in Central Europe. Completed in 1935 the alpine road made accessible Austria's highest mountain, the Grossglockner (3,798 m) and the longest glacier of the Eastern Alps, the Pasterze. With an altitude of 2,504 meters at the Hochtor Pass, it is the highest surfaced mountain road in Austria. Totalling 48 kilometres, the road has a continuous width of 7.5 meters, 36 hairpin curves and two side roads to spectacular vantage points.

Planned from 1924 onwards and built between 1930 and 1935, the road was the prototype of scenic routes in Europe. Planned and implemented as a toll road in a pristine alpine setting with the objective of offering a spectacular experience for the visitor, the road continues to retain its original function as a self-sustaining tourist attraction: 800,000 to 1,000,000 tourists from all over the world visit the Großglockner High Alpine Road each year. Tourists experience the Hohe Tauern landscape, the Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe, the view of the glacier at an altitude of 2,369 meters above sea level, and the 360° panoramic view of the Edelweißspitze. Since its opening 80 years ago, the High Alpine road has been consistently among the top ten of most visited attractions in Austria."

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Großglockner is Austria highest mountain.Thanks to Christina of Austria.

France - Nîmes, Antiquity to the present

Nîmes, an ancient city and Roman colony founded by Augustus, has preserved an exceptional set of monuments and structures from the Roman era: the amphitheater, the temple called Maison Carrée, the sanctuary of the fountain, the enclosure, offered by Auguste himself, with his doors and the Magne Tower. It also preserves the castellum aquae, the culmination of the Nîmes aqueduct, of which the Pont du Gard (inscribed on the World Heritage List) is the most famous vestige. Nîmes is however more than a testimony on the Roman civilization of the 1st century AD. Its ancient monuments and structures had a great influence on the organization of urban space and the architecture of the city, from the Middle Ages, but especially in the Enlightenment, in the 18th and then in the 19th century. Architectures inspired by the ancient art or its decoration (12th century cathedral, mansions of the 16th and 17th centuries, public buildings of the 19th century), structuring of the urban space around the monuments (creation of the Garden of the Fountain and the Cours Neuf, clearing arenas, streets and squares around the Maison Carrée), the city has an exceptional character by the constant reformulation of its own modernity according to its ancient past. Even today urbanism and contemporary architecture interact with this fascinating heritage of the Roman world.

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

La Maison Carree de Nimes. Thanks to Marie of France for mailing and Thibault of Switzerland for arranging this send.

China - Scenic and historic area of Sacred Mountains and Lakes (Burang, Tibet)

"Located in Burang County, Ngari Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region, at an elevation of over 4,500 m, Scenic and historic area of Sacred Mountains and Lakes is adjacent to Zanda County, Gar County and Gya'gya County, bordering on India and Nepal. ‘Two peaks perching to the north and south, two lakes reflecting with each other in the east and west’ describes the basic natural landscape features of the property, comprising a fairly compact geomorphology unit of ‘two mountains with two lakes in between’, also resulting in unique landscape composed of glaciers, lakes, wetlands and grasslands in this region. ‘Two mountains’ means the Sacred Mountain of Gang Rinpoche (6,638m) and the Goddess Peak of Naimona'nyi (7,694m), and ‘two lakes’ refers to the Holy Lake of Manasarovar and the Ghost Lake of Lhanag-tso. Unique natural environment has bred particular and rich religions and cultures, which is of world-class Outstanding Universal Value." 

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Postcard 1
Mt. Gang Rinpoche from the postcard booklet Tibet Posture that I bought in China.

Postcard 2
Lake Mapham Yutso is another name of Holy Lake of Manasarovar, Tibet.

China - Tulin-Guge Scenic and Historic Interest Areas

"From natural perspective, in the nominated property there is a specific geomorphology type named “forest soil”, which presents outstanding universal value aesthetically and geologically. The lacustrine sedimentary around Zhada Basin and Sutlej River Basin of the nominated property belongs to the forest soil type but exhibits distinctive features, making a “Guge type”. The “Guge type”, composed of semi-consolidated lacustrine fluvial clay, sand and gravel, taking “pagoda forest” as the basic structural unit, was formed under dry climate, dominated by construction joints, affected by river erosion, rain shower eclipse and freezing weathering. The forest soil around Zhada County is tall and straight, composed of varied types, which shows distinctive aesthetical characteristics against the specific extreme natural environment of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The nominated property shows different hues, bedding structures and physical composition, among which there are a large quantity of fossils, presenting direct or indirect proofs of ancient environmental evolution of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau." 

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Postcard 1
3 postcards from the postcard booklet "Tibet Posture" that I bought in China. The ruins of Guge Kingdom, Ngari, Tibet, China.

Postcard 2
The Earth Forest of Zada, Ngari, Tibet

Postcard 3
The site of ancient Zada fortress in Ngari, Tibet

Turkey - The Theatre and Aqueducts of the Ancient City of Aspendos

"The Aspendos theatre is the best-preserved monument of its type from the Ancient World in Turkey, and one of the most intact in the world. The theatre of Aspendos is one of the rare examples of a Roman theatre, constructed as a whole with the combination of a multi-storied and richly decorated stage building and a semi circular shaped cavea. The level of preservation was mostly due to the Seljuk restoration of the 13th century, during the time of Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat. The restoration and reuse of the building as a palace have left important but subtle traces including geometric designs and blue-coloured tiles. Therefore the theatre not only gives the spectator endless inspiration to delve into the history, but also presents an opportunity to read the multi-layered architectural interventions in a critical manner; thus the monument invites the contemporary visitor or expert to become actively engaged in picturing the theatre‟s use and critically questioning it based on the existing evidence. The aqueducts, on the other hand, have come even more to the attention of scholars because of their unique hydraulic siphons and very well preserved original conditions. They are important structures for the history of technology since they still survive in such a condition that raises and answers many questions regarding their construction and use. The level of preservation gives the spectator a sense of the monument's "eternal" nature when viewed from the high and rather isolated point on the northern side of the flat-topped acropolis."

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Nice multi-view of Roman ruins of Aspendos, Antalya, Turkey. Thanks to Naomi of Netherlands.

China - Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen

"The major component of Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen is the Imperial Kiln Site, which fired, produced and served porcelains for the imperial family during Ming and Qing dynasties. It includes porcelain-firing workshops and kilns ruins as well as those abundant porcelain pieces of Ming and Qing dynasties deposited underground. There also exist several civil kiln sites which reflect the system of “moulding by imperial kiln and firing by civil kiln” as well as other important kiln relics showing the imperial kilns' technical origin. Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen also include sites of porcelain-making raw materials mining and processing, trade associations guild halls, water transportation docks and other cultural relics, which are related to the production and transportation of porcelains."

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Jingdezhen Blue and White Phoenix Head Pot with Flat Sides, AD 1276-1368. Collection at Capital Museum, Beijing, China. This is a postcard from the Capital Museum collection postcard set that I bought during my visit to this amazing museum.

China - The Four Sacred Mountains as an Extension of Mt. Taishan

"Application of "Four Sacred Mountains as an Extension of Mt. Taishan" is an extension application of Cultural and Natural World Heritages of Mt. Taishan. "The Five Sacred Mountains of China" is a cultural integration with long history. Mt. Taishan of "The Five Sacred Mountains of China" has already been listed on the World Heritages in 1987. And the four nominated sites for application include: 

Southern Mt. Hengshan (Hunan Province), 

Western Mt. Huashan (Shaanxi Province), 

Central Mt. Songshan (Henan Province) 

Northern Mt. Hengshan (Shanxi Province). 

The core scenic area of the four nominated sites is 54769 ha, and total buffering area is 44658 ha.

"The Five Sacred Mountains" has been worship for over three thousand years from Neolithic Age due to its unique geographical locations and majesty of relative altitude over a kilometre. In 219 BC, Qin Shihuang (First Emperor of Qin Dynasty) held a ceremony of offering sacrifices on the top Mt. Taishan when special national sacrifice codes and systems originated, which was followed by later emperors to show their imperial power's validity and authority. Offering sacrifices to Five Sacred Mountains was held to make the emperors'' achievements informed to all the people and Five Sacred Mountains were regarded as boundaries of their reign. Therefore, as an integration which cannot be divided, Five Sacred Mountains symbolizes the unification and territory in the era of Chinese agricultural civilization."

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Postcard 1 - Northern Hengshan
Mid-air temple of Nothern Hengshan, Shanxi, China. It is a postcard from the postcard set of Scenery of Shanxi that I bought in China.

Postcard 2 - Western Huashan
Hua Shan at 2154.9m is one of China top 5 mountains. Thanks to Liu Xu of China.

Postcard 3 - Central Songshan
View of Songyue Pagoda, a sixth century Buddhism temple, of Mount Song, Henan. Thanks to Christie of China.