Srebarna Nature Reserve

The Srebarna Nature Reserve is a freshwater lake adjacent to the Danube and extending over 600 ha. It is the breeding ground of almost 100 species of birds, many of which are rare or endangered. Some 80 other bird species migrate and seek refuge there every winter. Among the most interesting bird species are the Dalmatian pelican, great egret, night heron, purple heron, glossy ibis and white spoonbill.

The reserve was set up primarily to protect the rich diversity of wildfowl, the bird species represent half of the Bulgarian avifauna. Species found in Srebarna include mute swan, a variety of geese and ducks, red-necked grebe, two of the three European species of marsh tern, and bearded tit. Otter is occasionally found in the reserve. White-fronted goose, red-breasted goose and blue throat have become established as wintering species.

Since 1983 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Plamena for the postcard.

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Taj Mahal

An immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s Heritage.

The Taj Mahal is located on the right bank of the Yamuna River in a vast Mughal garden that encompasses nearly 17 hectares, in the Agra District in Uttar Pradesh. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal with construction starting in 1632 AD and completed in 1648 AD, with the mosque, the guest house and the main gateway on the south, the outer courtyard and its cloisters were added subsequently and completed in 1653 AD. The existence of several historical and Quaranic inscriptions in Arabic script have facilitated setting the chronology of Taj Mahal. For its construction, masons, stone-cutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome builders and other artisans were requisitioned from the whole of the empire and also from the Central Asia and Iran. Ustad-Ahmad Lahori was the main architect of the Taj Mahal.

Since 1983 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Nagi for the postcard.

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Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace of Bremen

The Town Hall and the statue of Roland on the marketplace of Bremen in north-west Germany are outstanding representations of civic autonomy and sovereignty, as these developed in the Holy Roman Empire in Europe. The old town hall was built in the Gothic style in the early 15th century, after Bremen joined the Hanseatic League. The building was renovated in the so-called Weser Renaissance style in the early 17th century. A new town hall was built next to the old one in the early 20th century as part of an ensemble that survived bombardment during the Second World War. The statue stands 5.5 m tall and dates back to 1404.

The origins of Bremen go back to the 8th and 9th centuries, when it became the seat of a bishop. In 965, Bremen was given the rights to raise customs and to mint. There is a reference in 1225 to a city council whose members are known as consules; this council prepared a civic code as a law of the people. The town joined the Hanseatic League in 1358. Although having already obtained privileges of civic autonomy, it was formally recognized as a Freie Reichstadt (free imperial town) in 1646. Since 1947 it has been one of the Lรคnder of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Roland statue in stone was erected in 1404, replacing an earlier wooden statue, and is considered the oldest Roland statue still in place in Germany.

Since 2004 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Karo for the postcard.

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Volcanoes of Kamchatka

This is one of the most outstanding volcanic regions in the world, with a high density of active volcanoes, a variety of types, and a wide range of related features. The six sites included in the serial designation group together the majority of volcanic features of the Kamchatka peninsula. The interplay of active volcanoes and glaciers forms a dynamic landscape of great beauty. The sites contain great species diversity, including the world’s largest known variety of salmonoid fish and exceptional concentrations of sea otter, brown bear and Stellar’s sea eagle.

More than 300 volcanoes are found in Kamchatka, 29 being currently active, including caldera, strata-volcano, somma-volcano and mixed types, the largest included in the World Heritage site being Kronotskaya Sopka (3,528ย m). In addition there is a multitude of thermal and mineral springs, geysers and other phenomena of active vulcanism.

Since 1996 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Verooro for the postcard.

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Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios

Although geographically distant from each other, these three monasteries (the first is in Attica, near Athens, the second in Phocida near Delphi, and the third on an island in the Aegean Sea, near Asia Minor) belong to the same typological series and share the same aesthetic characteristics. The churches are built on a cross-in-square plan with a large dome supported by squinches defining an octagonal space. In the 11th and 12th centuries they were decorated with superb marble works as well as mosaics on a gold background, all characteristic of the ‘second golden age of Byzantine art‘.

1. The Monastery of Hossios Luckas is 37ย km from Delphi on the western slope of the Helicon: here a hermit named Lukas the Stiriote made his home in 946 among the ruins of a temple dedicated to Demeter. The holy man died in 953. A work on his life mentions a primitive church dedicated to St Barbara. In the latter half of the 10th century, construction on another church for pilgrims was begun. The topography of the vast polygonal enclosure of the monastery, which extends haphazardly on an east-west axis, still bears traces of successive additions and testifies to the enduring success of the cult to St Luke of Phocis. The immense central volume of the dome, 9ย m in diameter, which rests on a drum pierced with sixteen windows, is supported on three sides by groin-vaulted bays. The bema and the apse define the cross-in-square plan of the church, which is one of the most perfect creations of Byzantine architecture. The church is filled with iconographic treasures of a magnitude and coherence rarely equalled. Its complex, compartmentalized plan is unified into a harmonious and luxurious whole by the rich decor of mosaics, frescoes, and marble slabs.

Since 1990 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Elena for the postcard.

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Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine

Situated in the eastern fringe of Central Europe, the transnational property numbers a selection of sixteenย tserkvasย (churches). They were built of horizontal wooden logs between the 16thย and 19thย centuries by communities of Orthodox and Greek Catholic faiths. Theย tserkvasย bear testimony to a distinct building tradition rooted in Orthodox ecclesiastic design interwoven with elements of local tradition, and symbolic references to their communitiesโ€™ cosmogony.ย ย Theย tserkvasย are built on a tri-partite plan surmounted by open quadrilateral or octagonal domes and cupolas. Integral to tserkvas are iconostasis screens, interior polychrome decorations, and other historic furnishings. Important elements of some tserkvas includeย wooden bell towers, churchyards, gatehouses and graveyards.

Since 2013 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Ania for the postcard.

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Le Havre, the City Rebuilt by Auguste Perret

The city of Le Havre, on the English Channel in Normandy, was severely bombed during the Second World War. The destroyed area was rebuilt according to the plan of a team headed by Auguste Perret, from 1945 to 1964. The site forms the administrative, commercial and cultural centre of Le Havre. Le Havre is exceptional among many reconstructed cities for its unity and integrity. It combines a reflection of the earlier pattern of the town and its extant historic structures with the new ideas of town planning and construction technology. It is an outstanding post-war example of urban planning and architecture based on the unity of methodology and the use of prefabrication, the systematic utilization of a modular grid, and the innovative exploitation of the potential of concrete.

Since 2005 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to my mum for the postcard.

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