Aug 28, 2011

Patmos island

 This postcard was also found in that abandoned house. It shows Patmos island, but it is not used, so it doesn't have a date on it. I have never been to Patmos, but I have been told that it is one of the most beautiful Greek islands!

Patmos (Greek, Πάτμος; Italian: Patmo) is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. One of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex, it has a population of 2,984 and an area of 34.05 km² (13 square miles). The highest point is Profitis Ilias, 269 meters above sea level. The Municipality of Patmos, which includes the offshore islands of Arkoi (pop. 54), Marathi (pop. 6), and several uninhabited islets, has a total population of 3,044 (2001 census) and a combined land area of 45.039 km². It is part of the Kalymnos peripheral unit.
Patmos' main communities are Chora (the capital city), and Skala, the only commercial port. Other settlements are Grikou and Kampos. The churches and communities on Patmos are of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. In 1999, the island's historic center Chora, along with the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse, were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The monastery was founded by Saint Christodulos. Patmos is also home to the Patmian School, a notable Greek seminary.
Patmos is mentioned in the Christian scriptural Book of Revelation. The book's introduction states that its author, John, was on Patmos when he was given (and recorded) a vision from Jesus. Early Christian tradition identified this writer John of Patmos as John the Apostle, though some modern scholars are uncertain. As such, Patmos is a destination for Christian pilgrimage. Visitors can see the cave where John is said to have received his Revelation (the Cave of the Apocalypse), and several monasteries on the island are dedicated to Saint John.
According to a legend within the Greek mythology, the island's original name was "Letois," after the goddess Artemis, daughter of Leto. It was believed that Patmos came into existence thanks to her divine intervention. Mythology tells of how Patmos existed as an island at the bottom of the sea.
Deer-huntress Artemis frequently paid visits to Caria, the mainland across the shore from Patmos, where she had a shrine on Mount Latmos. There, she used to meet up with the moon goddess Selene, who cast her light on the ocean, revealing the sunken island of Patmos.
Selene was always trying to get Artemis to bring the sunken island to the surface and, hence, to life. Selene finally convinced Artemis, who, in turn, elicited her brother Apollo's help, in order to persuade Zeus to allow the island to arise from the sea.
Zeus agreed, and the island emerged from the water. The Sun dried up the land and brought life to it. Gradually, inhabitants from the surrounding areas, including Mount Latmos, settled on the island and named it "Letois" in honour of Artemis. [wikipedia]

Arta's Bridge (Το γεφύρι της Άρτας) "They built all day--each night it fell"

As I have mentioned before, I am an architect so I get to visit many old, abandoned houses. In one of these houses I found 10-15 old postcards. One of them is this one, which was sent on 25 February 1974. It shows the most famous old bridge in Greece, which is situated in Arta. It crosses the Arachthos river (Άραχθος). The bridge is famous because of an urban legend that is connected with its construction. It is said that every day 60 apprentices and 45 craftsmen, under the leadership of the Chief Engineer, tried to build the bridge, but its foundations would collapse every night. Finally a bird with a human voice informed the Chief Engineer that in order for the bridge to remain standing, he must sacrifice his wife. As the wife was being built in the foundations of the construction, she uttered curses that concluded with blessings.
Up until now, whenever someone crosses this Bridge, becomes silent and shy as a tribute to the wife of the Chief Engineer. The legend has it, that her sacrifice made the construction of the Bridge possible, reversing the curse into a wish for the generations to come. The Bridge finally connected the two riversides of Arahthos river. Apart from the physical connection of the river, this Bridge is also what connects Arta with its historical past, its living present and hopefully its future.

Aug 27, 2011

Mystras, the 'wonder of the Morea'

For my summer vacations me and my hubby went for a mini tour of Peloponesse (Southern Greece). One of the stops was at Mystras. I was amazed by the beauty of the place! No wonder it is a Unesco World Heritage Site!

Mystras, the 'wonder of the Morea', was built as an amphitheatre around the fortress erected in 1249 by the prince of Achaia, William of Villehardouin. Reconquered by the Byzantines, then occupied by the Turks and the Venetians, the city was abandoned in 1832, leaving only the breathtaking medieval ruins, standing in a beautiful landscape. The complex of the ruins of Mystras offers the image of a city with a brilliant destiny that was deserted by men and threatened by the return of encroaching vegetation, which is splitting the walls and covering the slopes, thus destroying here and there fragile traces of history.
Mystras came into existence in 1248-49 when the Frankish lord, William II of Villehardouin, Prince of Achaia, resolved to build a great castle on the top of the 620 m hill overlooking Sparta. The castle would be able to withstand attacks by the Byzantines, and also contain the Esclavons, the Slavic tribes of the Melinges and the Lezerites who inhabited the Taygete. Although a few inhabitants continued to live in the ruins, the city was not abandoned until after 1832, when King Otto I founded the new city of Sparta. For almost six centuries, Mystras lived a troubled existence. However, several times and under different regimes it assumed a leading political and cultural role. The vicissitudes of history did not spare the construction built by William II of Villehardouin. The castle had barely been completed when the Prince of Achaia, defeated by Michael VIII Palaeologus at the battle of Pelagonia and made prisoner, was forced to cede as ransom to the basileus the three strongholds of Monemvasia, Mania and Mystras (1261-62). When the favour of victory momentarily shined upon him once again, in 1265, Villehardouin found that the inhabitants of Sparta had deserted that vulnerable city and taken refuge around the castle of Mystras. From 1262 to 1348, because of many wars in which it was often the prize, Mystras was the seat of the Byzantine military governor, first named for a year then, after 1308, for life. The bishopric of Sparta was transferred to the new city, and the Metropolis, dedicated to St Demetrios, was built in 1264, and reconstructed after 1310. Convents, such as those of the Theodore Saints (prior to 196) and those of Brontochion (c. 1310) were built and richly decorated.

Santa Claus is coming to Town

This merry postcard was sent by Heidi from Finland via postcrossin [FI-1177554]!
Santa Claus, or Santa, is a figure in North American culture with legendary, mythological and folkloric aspects, which reflect an amalgamation of the Dutch Sinterklaas, the English Father Christmas, and Christmas gift-bringers in other traditions. Santa Claus is said to bring gifts to the homes of good children during the late evening and overnight hours of Christmas Eve, December 24. Santa Claus in this contemporary understanding echoes aspects of hagiographical tales concerning the historical figure of gift-giver Saint Nicholas, the man from whom the name of Santa Claus derives and in whose honor Santa Claus may be referred to as Saint Nicholas or Saint Nick.
Santa Claus is generally depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots (images of him rarely have a beard with no moustache). This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the significant influence of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast. This image has been maintained and reinforced through song, radio, television, children's books and films. The North American depiction of Santa Claus as it developed in the 19th and 20th century in turn influenced the modern perceptions of Father Christmas, Sinterklaas and Saint Nicholas in European culture.

Aug 26, 2011


This postcard was sent by Elke from Augsburg in Germany via postcrossing [DE-1013760]. 

Augsburg is a city in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. It is a university town (German: 'Universitätsstadt') and home of the Regierungsbezirk Schwaben and the Bezirk Schwaben. Augsburg is an urban district and home to the institutions of the Landkreis Augsburg. It is, as of 2008, the third-largest city in Bavaria with a population exceeding 264,000 citizens. After Neuss and Trier, Augsburg is Germany's third oldest city.
Augsburg is the only German city with its own legal holiday, the Augsburger Hohes Friedensfest, celebrated on August 8 of every year. This gives Augsburg more legal holidays than any other region or city in Germany.
While commonly coined Fuggerstadt (Fuggers' city) due to the Fuggers residing there, within Swabia it's also often referred to as Datschiburg: which originated sometime in the 19th century refers to Augsburgs favorite sweet: the Datschi made from fruit, preferably prunes, and thin cake dough. The Datschiburger Kickers charity football team (founded in 1965) reflects this in its choice of team name. [wikipedia]

The stamp used on this card shows a Ballonblume. Platycodon grandiflorus is a species of perennial flowering plant of the family Campanulaceae and the only member of the genus Platycodon (from Greek "πλατυκώδων", meaning 'a broad bell'). This species is known as platycodon or Chinese bellflower. Depending upon the region, it is also referred to as the Japanese bellflower, common balloon flower, or balloon flower. It is native to East Asia (such as China, Korea, Japan, and East Siberia) and bears big blue flowers, although varieties with white and pink flowers are in cultivation. In Korea, white flowers are more common. [wikipedia]

Aug 8, 2011

European Patent Office

This postcard shows the European Patent Office in Munich and it was sent by a friend of my parents who had moved to Germany many many years ago.

The European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the two organs of the European Patent Organisation (EPOrg), the other being the Administrative Council. The EPO acts as executive body for the Organisation while the Administrative Council acts as its supervisory body as well as, to a limited extent, its legislative body. 
Within the European Patent Office, examiners are in charge of studying European patent applications, filed by applicants, in order to decide whether to grant a patent for an invention. The patents granted by the European Patent Office are called European patents.
The European Patent Office (EPO) grants European patents for the Contracting States to the European Patent Convention. The EPO provides a single patent grant procedure, but not a single patent from the point of view of enforcement. Hence the patents granted are not European Union patents or even Europe-wide patents, but a bundle of national patents. Besides granting European patents, the EPO is also in charge of establishing search reports for national patent applications on behalf of the patent offices of Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, and Turkey.
The EPO headquarters are located at Munich, Germany. The European Patent Office also includes a branch in Rijswijk (a suburb of The Hague, Netherlands), sub-offices in Berlin, Germany, and Vienna, Austria and a "liaison bureau" in Brussels, Belgium. At the end of 2009, the European Patent Office had a staff of 6818 (with 3718 based in Munich, 2710 in Rijswijk, 274 in Berlin, 112 in Vienna and 4 in Brussels). The predecessor of the European Patent Office was the Institut International des Brevets or IIB. [wikipedia]

The card does not have a date, but has these beautiful stamps.

Aug 7, 2011


Ios (Greek: Ίος, locally Νιός - Nios) is a Greek island in the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea. Ios is a hilly island with cliffs down to the sea on most sides, situated halfway between Naxos and Santorini. It is about 18 km (11 mi) long and 10 km (6 mi) wide, with an area of about 109 km² (42 mi²). Population was 1,838 in 2001 (down from 3,500 in the 19th century). Ios is part of the Santorini peripheral unit. Ios was the setting for the movie Ginger and Cinnamon (Dillo con parole mie). Also, scenes from the film Big Blue (Le Grand Bleu) were shot in Manganari.
The Port of Ios is at the head of the Ormos harbor in the northwest. From there the bus or a 15-minute walk up the steep donkey path takes you to the village, known as Chora. Chora is a white and very picturesque cycladic village, full of stairs and narrow paths, that makes it inaccessible for cars of any kind. Today, the main path through this village is completely taken over by tourism in terms of restaurants, boutiques, bars and discothèques. Apart from the port and the village of Chora, Ios has only a few small settlements, just a group of spread out houses in the background of major beaches (Theodoti, Kalamos, Maganari). Since the 1990s, the island mayor Pousseos has worked on Ios' development towards attracting different types of tourists. With the help of European Community funds some roads have been built, all of them paved, and a scenic amphitheater has been created by the German architect Peter Haupt (who died in 2003) at the top of the village hill. Unfortunately, cultural events rarely take place up there.
Excavations on Skarkos hill unearthed a prehistoric settlement, proving that Ios has been inhabited since the early Cycladic period. The architecture at Skarkos is preserved in places up to a height of almost three meters, with most of the buildings evidently having two storeys, stone-paved floors and a sewage system. Numerous well-preserved pottery, tools and utensils made of metal, stone and bone were also discovered. Unfortunately, the Skarkos site remains largely unpublished. In 2008, Ios was among six European locations (out of 109 candidates) awarded the European Union Cultural Heritage prize for its exceptional conservation efforts at the archaeological site of Skarkos.
During later times, Ios made rather few marks in history. According to ancient tradition, Homer's mother was from Ios, and he himself was buried there - and indeed the locals will show visitors the site of the ancient town of Plakotos at the northernmost end of the island, where the rocky entrance to a tomb may be seen. There is no physical evidence connecting this with Homer however. There are signs of Mycenaean settlement. The north end of Ios has a ruined Venetian castle from the 15th century. The island is said to have 365 churches and chapels, like the days of the year.
Ios attracts a large number of young tourists, many of whom used to sleep on their sleeping bags during the 1970s on the popular beach of Mylopotas after partying through the night. Today Mylopotas beach has been developed to an equivalent mass package tourism resort like Platys Gialos and Paradise Beach of Mykonos. [wikipedia]

Aug 4, 2011

Salt Castle | Austria

These five postcards are also part of my parents' collection. We have bought them many years ago.

Salzburg (Austro-Bavarian: Såizburg; literally: "Salt Castle") is the fourth-largest city in Austria and the capital city of the federal state of Salzburg.
Salzburg's "Old Town" (Altstadt) has internationally renowned baroque architecture and one of the best-preserved city centres north of the Alps. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The city is noted for its Alpine setting.
Salzburg was the birthplace of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In the mid-20th century, the city was the setting for parts of the American musical and film The Sound of Music, which features famous landmarks in Austria. The musical was a partnership between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.
The capital city of the State of Salzburg (Land Salzburg), the city has three universities. It has a large population of students who add liveliness and energy to the area, and the universities provide culture to the community.

Villa d'Este | Italy

The Neptune fountain with the fish ponds
Another couple of postcards of my parents' collection. I remember visiting this Villa as a child. The thing that impressed most were the fountains! Truly magnificent!

The Villa d'Este is a villa situated at Tivoli, near Rome, Italy. Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, it is a fine example of Renaissance architecture and the Italian Renaissance garden.
The Villa d'Este was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este, son of Alfonso I d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia and grandson of Pope Alexander VI. He had been appointed Governor of Tivoli by Pope Julius III, with the gift of the existing villa, which he had entirely reconstructed to plans of Pirro Ligorio carried out under the direction of the Ferrarese architect-engineer Alberto Galvani, court architect of the Este. The chief painter of the ambitious internal decoration was Livio Agresti from Forlì. From 1550 until his death in 1572, when the villa was nearing completion, Cardinal d'Este created a palatial setting surrounded by a spectacular terraced garden in the late-Renaissance mannerist style, which took full advantage of the dramatic slope but required innovations in bringing a sufficient water supply, which was employed in cascades, water tanks, troughs and pools, water jets and fountains, giochi d'acqua. The result is one of the series of great 17th century villas with water-play structures in the hills surrounding the Roman Campagna, such as the Villa Lante, the Villa Farnese at Caprarola and the Villas Aldobrandini and Torlonia in Frascati. Their garden planning and their water features were imitated in the next two centuries from Portugal to Poland.

Aug 1, 2011

Cosmopolitan Mykonos

Postcard 01

A month ago, I went to Mykonos island with a group of friends. When I left the island, they wrote a postcard with things we did [what happens in Mykonos, stays in Mykonos] and sent it to me. As I was observing it, I remembered that I had a couple of old postcards from Mykonos. How much has it changed since then!

Postcard 02
Postcard 03