San Marino

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My first card from San Marino comes from Ruedi. 🙂

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San Marino, officially the Republic of San Marino and also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, is an enclaved microstate surrounded by Italy, situated on the Italian Peninsula on the north-eastern side of the Apennine Mountains. Its size is just over 61 km2 with an estimated population of over 30,000. Its capital is the City of San Marino, its largest city Dogana.

San Marino claims to be the oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world, as the continuation of the monastic community founded on 3 September 301, by stonecutter Marinus of Arbe. Legend has it that Marinus left Rab, then the Roman colony of Arba, in 257 when the future emperor, Diocletian, issued a decree calling for the reconstruction of the city walls of Rimini, which had been destroyed by Liburnian pirates.

Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation Complex

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Another card from Saedah. 🙂 It pictures the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation Complex. The Complex, with a view of the 16th century royal barge, is one of the capital’s most popular shopping venues, it offers picturesque view of the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque to the west and Kampong Ayer to the east.

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Galápagos Islands

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This beautiful card comes from Glauco. 🙂 However, it was sent from Brazil.

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The Galápagos Islands (official name: Archipiélago de Colón, other Spanish names: Islas Galápagos) are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, 926 km west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part.

The Galápagos Islands and their surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The principal language on the islands is Spanish. The islands have a population of slightly over 25,000.

The islands are famed for their vast number of endemic species and were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

The Galápagos tortoise or Galápagos giant tortoise (pictured on the postcard) is the largest living species of tortoise.

Veitshöchheim

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This one comes from my pen pal Sandra. 🙂

Veitshöchheim is a municipality in the district of Würzburg, in Bavaria, Germany. It is situated on the right bank of the Main, 6 km northwest of Würzburg. In the town is Schloss Veitshöchheim; this summer palace of the Prince-Bishops of Würzburg was built in 1680-82, and was enlarged to its present appearance in 1753 by Balthasar Neumann. The gardens were redesigned for Prince-Bishop Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim (1755–1779), with lakes and waterworks, and filled with hundreds of allegorical sandstone sculptures from the workshops of the court sculptors Ferdinand Tietz and Johann Peter Wagner.

Running of the Bulls

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Beautiful card from my friend Kristina. 🙂

The Running of the Bulls (in Spanish: encierro) is a practice that involves running in front of a small group of bulls (typically a dozen) that have been let loose on a course of a sectioned-off subset of a town’s streets. The most famous running of the bulls is that of the eight-day festival of Sanfermines in honour of Saint Fermin in Pamplona, although they are held in towns and villages across Spain, Portugal, in some cities in Mexico, in San JosĂ© Festival held in Trujillo, Peru.

The origin of this event comes from the need to transport the bulls from the off-site corrals where they had spent the night, to the bullring where they would be killed in the evening. Youngsters would jump among them to show off their bravado. In Pamplona and other places, the six bulls in the event are still those that will feature in the afternoon bullfight of the same day.

New Cathedral of Cuenca

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My first card from Ecuador comes from Moria. 🙂

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The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Spanish: Catedral de la Inmaculada ConcepciĂłn), commonly referred to the as the New Cathedral of Cuenca (Spanish: Nueva Catedral de Cuenca), is the cathedral church in Cuenca, Ecuador. It is situated in front of Parque Calderon.

The plan of the Cathedral was drawn up by Juan Bautista Stiehle (1829-1899) — a German-born friar who arrived in Cuenca from Alsace in 1873 — on suggestions made by Bishop León Garrido. The Cathedral took over the function of the nearby Old Cathedral that had become too small. Construction works started in 1885 and lasted for almost a century. This building combines many architecture styles, but Romanesque Revival is predominant. The cathedral is surmounted by three giant domes covered by striking blue and white glazed tile from Czechoslovakia. Its stained glass windows were created by Spanish artist Guillermo Larrazábal.

Its towers are truncated due to a calculation error of the architect. If they had been raised to their planned height, the foundation of this Church to the Immaculate Conception, would not have been able to bear the weight. In spite of the architect’s immense mistake, the skyline of its domes has become a symbol for the city. Its facade is made of alabaster and local marble, while the floor is covered with pink marble, brought from Carrara (Italy). When the Cathedral was first constructed 9,000 out of Cuenca’s 10,000 inhabitants could fit in the building.

Karakoram Highway

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This one comes from Irfan. 🙂

The Karakoram Highway (KKH) is the highest paved international road in the world. It connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range, through the Khunjerab Pass, at an elevation of 4,693 metres. Connecting China’s Xinjiang region with Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan, the road is a popular tourist attraction. Due to its high elevation and the difficult conditions in which it was constructed, it is referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

The Karakoram Highway, also known as the Friendship Highway in China, was built by the governments of Pakistan and China. It was started in 1959 and was completed in 1979 (open to the public since 1986). About 810 Pakistanis and about 200 Chinese workers lost their lives, mostly in landslides and falls, while building the highway. The route of the KKH traces one of the many paths of the ancient Silk Road.

Bratislava Castle

SPLMUM4tASM1tB4FJXFQUJ26This one comes from Ivan. 🙂

Bratislava Castle is the main castle of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The massive rectangular building with four corner towers stands on an isolated rocky hill of the Little Carpathians directly above the Danube river in the middle of Bratislava. Because of its size and location, it has been a dominant feature of the city for centuries.

Since 1968, the castle has been housing exhibitions of the Slovak National Museum and at the same time its rooms have been used by the National Council of the Slovak Republic for presentation purposes. In 1992, the castle housed a branch-office of the Czechoslovak president temporarily and later in the 1990s the Slovak president temporarily. It still houses the museum and the presentation rooms for the National Council of the Slovak Republic and for the president.