TW-405937 301 - ая открытка

Country: Taiwan

Distance: 8,358 km

Travel time:  12 days

On postcard: Taipei 101


taiwan2Copy of taiwan2

TW-405301 300 - ая открытка

Country: Taiwan

Distance: 8,358 km

Travel time:  12 days

On postcard: Taroko National Park

Taroko National Park (Chinese: 太魯閣國家公園; pinyin: Tàilǔgé gúojiā gōngyuán; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: 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. The park spans Taichung City, Nantou County, and Hualien County.

The park was originally established as the Tsugitaka-Taroko National Park (次高タロコ国立公園 Tsugitaka Taroko kokuritsu kōen) by the Governor-General of Taiwan on December 12, 1937 when Taiwan was part of the Empire of Japan. After the Empire of Japan's defeat in World War II, the Republic of China assumed control of Taiwan. The ROC government subsequently abolished the park on August 15, 1945. It was not until November 28, 1986 that the park was reestablished.

Origin of the name

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


Taroko Gorge and its surrounding area are well known for their abundant supply of marble, leading to its nickname, "The Marble Gorge". The rock now seen in Taroko began over 200 million years ago as sediment on the bottom of the ocean. As the sediment collected, it was subject to increasingly large amounts of pressure which eventually hardened it into limestone. Over the past 100 million years, tectonic compression between the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate supplied additional pressure that metamorphosed the limestone into marble. Uplifting forces from the plate collision pushed this rock above the surface of the ocean to where we see it today. In fact, the region is still being uplifted by approximately 0.5cm per year.

The gorge itself was carved into the marble by the erosive power of the Liwu River.

In addition, there are known to be jade in this gorge. This jade is only found in Taiwan and the jade from this area supplies the jade market in Hualien. These mountains can be seen from rafting (a common activity during summer months in Taroko Gorge) through the rivers.

The Tupido Tribe Trail was built by the Batto Bulego family of Taroko some 120 years ago, and now only parts of its ruins remain on the Tianhsyang mesa (天祥台地). Four generations of the family resided there until the Japanese army massacred the tribe and banished the survivors in 1914.



SG-51933 299 - ая открытка

Country: Singapore

Distance: 9,432 km

Travel time:  9 days

On postcard: Marina Bay, Singapore

Marina Bay is a bay near Central Area in the southern part of Singapore, and lies to the east of the Downtown Core. Marina Bay is set to be a 24/7 destination with endless opportunities for people to “explore new living and lifestyle options, exchange new ideas and information for business, and be entertained by rich leisure and cultural experiences”. It is here where the most innovative facilities and infrastructure such as the underground “common services tunnel” are built and where mega activities take place.

Master Plan for Marina Bay

The URA Master Plan for Marina Bay aims to encourage a mix of uses for this area, including commercial, residential, hotel and entertainment, to ensure that the area remains vibrant round the clock. All developments in the area aim to promote the 3 premises of Explore, Exchange and Entertain:

Explore – New living options. Numerous high-end residential developments are in the pipeline, including One Shenton and Marina Bay Residences which will complement The Sail @ Marina Bay to provide a seamless work-live environment at the heart of the city.

Exchange - Hub for global business. When completed, Marina Bay will double the size of the existing financial district, further cementing Singapore’s position as one of Asia's leading financial centres. It will provide 2.82 million square metres of office space, equivalent to the office space within Hong Kong's main business district, Central.

Entertain - Kaleidoscope of activities. In 2010, the opening of Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort provided more entertainment options to the area, along with the other existing entertainment and shopping districts like Esplanade, Suntec City, Marina Square, Raffles City Shopping Centre.

The Singapore government also spent $35 million to complete the 3.5 km Waterfront Promenade around Marina Bay. It includes a new eco-friendly visitor centre and The Helix linking Bayfront to Marina Centre where the Youth Olympic Park is located. The Promontory @ Marina Bay (formerly Central Promontory Site) will be used as an interim event space and public space used for activities such as theatres and carnivals.


In 1970s, land reclamation was carried out at Marina Bay, forming what is today the Marina Centre and Marina South areas. In the reclamation process, Telok Ayer Basin was removed from the map, while the Singapore River's mouth now flows into the bay instead of directly into the sea. In 2008, Marina Barrage was built, turning Marina Bay and Kallang Basin into a new downtown freshwater Marina Reservoir, providing water supply, flood control and a new lifestyle attraction.

Events at Marina Bay

The inaugural Singapore Grand Prix took place on September 28, 2008 on a street circuit through Marina Bay. It was also the first ever Formula One Grand Prix to be staged at night, with the track fully floodlit. Since its inception, The Float@Marina Bay has hosted events such as the National Day Parade, New Year’s Eve Countdown, Singapore Fireworks Celebrations, as well as served as a spectator stand for the inaugural Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix. The world’s largest floating stadium played host to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the inaugural Singapore Youth Olympic Games 2010.


Common Services Tunnel

Singapore is the second Asian country after Japan to implement a comprehensive Common Services Tunnel system to distribute various utility services to all developments at Marina Bay. The network of purpose-built tunnels houses water pipes, electrical and telecommunication cables and other utility services underground. CST not only improves reliability of services supplies and allows easy maintenance and new installations, it also has 100% emergency backup services and the capacity for expansion to meet changing utility needs.

Water management

In 2004, the Public Utilities Board publicly announced plans to construct a new downtown reservoir by damming the Marina Channel. This barrage was completed in 2008. Known as the Marina Barrage, it turned Marina Bay and the Kallang Basin into a confined freshwater reservoir with limited access to marine transportation to regulate the water quality.

The new reservoir provides another source of drinking water for Singapore, as well as a stable water level for a variety of water activities and events. The barrage will also prevent flooding in the Chinatown area.


There are currently 5 rail stations: City Hall, Raffles Place, Marina Bay, Promenade and Esplanade stations serving Marina Bay. By 2020, the 360 hectares Marina Bay will boast a comprehensive transport network as Singapore's most rail-connected district. The first three new MRT lines will open between 2012 and 2014. By 2018, the Marina Bay district will have six or more MRT stations, all no more than five minutes of each other. A comprehensive pedestrian network including shady sidewalks, covered walkways, underground and second-storey links will ensure all-weather protection and seamless connectivity between developments and mass rapid transit stations. Within Greater Marina Bay, water taxis will even double up as an alternative mode of transportation.

Up-coming Destinations

Gardens by the Bay

In line with Singapore's image as a Garden City, construction of three waterfront gardens is underway at Marina Bay. The 101-hectare Gardens by the Bay site is made up of Bay South, Bay East, and Bay Central across the mouth of the Singapore River. Phase 1 of the Gardens is scheduled to open in 2011. All three gardens will be interconnected via a series of pedestrian bridges to form a larger loop along the whole waterfront and linked to surrounding developments, open public spaces, transport nodes and attractions. Through plant-based edutainment, horticultural displays, garden craftsmanship and floral artistry, Gardens by the Bay will provide another source of recreation for Singaporeans and tourists alike.

Marina Bay City Gallery

Completed in July 2010, the Marina Bay City Gallery is an eco-friendly building by the waterfront promenade along Marina Boulevard. The gallery showcases a large-scale model of Marina Bay, by incorporating the latest multimedia technology, visitors can navigate their way around the model to experience and appreciate the new city coming up around Marina Bay.

Waterfront Promenade

A 3.5 km waterfront promenade linking the necklace of attractions at the Marina Centre, Collyer Quay and Bayfront areas was completed in 2010. Visitors can look forward to a stroll along the Mist Walk, dancing water jets and enjoy a panoramic view of the Bay from any point along the promenade.



EE-121202 298 - ая открытка

Country: Estonia

Distance: 550 km

Travel time:  8 days

On postcard: I’m lucky, I have been created to bring a luck!



RU-614377 297 - ая открытка

Country: Russia

Distance: 1,033 km

Travel time:  33 days

On postcard: Assumption Cathedral in Smolensk

The Cathedral Church of the Assumption, dominating the city of Smolensk from the lofty Cathedral Hill, has been the principal church of the Smolensk bishopric for 800 years.

Monomakh Cathedral

The first brick church on the spot was started by Vladimir Monomakh in 1101. The large 6-pillared edifice, quite similar to Monomakh's cathedral in Vladimir, took several decades to complete. It was finally consecrated during the reign of Vladimir's grandson Rostislav of Smolensk in 1150. In the course of the following 500 years, the church survived numerous wars and fires. Especially serious was the damage inflicted during the great Siege of Smolensk (1609–11).

According to the official legend, the remaining defenders of the city locked themselves in the cathedral and then set fire to the gunpowder in the ammunition depot in the church’s basement on June 3, 1611. The explosion that followed caused the roof to collapse, killing all the people inside, who preferred death to being taken prisoner by the Poles. It is unclear, though, what happened in reality except that the ammunition depot in the basement really did explode. It was not unusual in medieval Russia, when a city was overrun for civilians to seek asylum in churches, so it is likely it was not defenders but civilians who died in that explosion. What caused the explosion will probably forever remain an open question: it could have been a Masada-style suicide but it might well have been an accident.

The old cathedral survived the explosion, however. On September 9, 1627, the bishop Lew Rzewuski pleaded Lew Sapieha to preclude "the 500-year-old church" from being converted into a Roman Catholic temple, which would violate the terms of Smolensk's surrender to the Poles in 1611. In a 1636 engraving, the cathedral is represented as being covered with a temporary wooden roof.

After Smolensk was recaptured by the tsars and recognized as belonging to Russia in the 1667 peace treaty, the Russian voivode Prince Repnin was commissioned to inspect the cathedral and to prepare a list of urgent repairs. In 1673 the archbishop of Smolensk was authorized to restore the roof and the domes without damaging its original walls. The ancient bricks, however, proved too dilapidated to put to good use. The old cathedral was completely demolished between May 5 and July 13, 1674.

New cathedral

The current 6-pillared 5-domed edifice was constructed over a period of almost 100 years due to flaws in the original design and its implementation – at one point one of the walls collapsed – but it was eventually completed in 1772. The building’s baroque design is impressive, especially looking up from the base of a wall. Viewed from certain locations it often looks as if it is suspended in the air because it is situated on hill surrounded by trees, concealing the base of the building.

One of the most breathtaking views is inside the cathedral, namely the iconostasis that separates the altar from the nave area of the cathedral, which stands almost the height of the interior space. On it there are icons and interspaced with intricate gold-covered wooden decorations including figures of cherubim and columns entwined with vine branches.

According to local legend, when Napoleon Bonaparte entered the cathedral after Smolensk had fallen to the French army in 1812, he looked up at the altar wall and proclaimed that if any one of his soldiers dared to steal anything from it he would personally kill that man. The cathedral sustained enormous damage during the WWII fighting, when the 11th-century miraculous icon of Theotokos of Smolensk perished in a great fire.



TH-87912 296 - ая открытка

Country: Thailand

Distance: 8,091 km

Travel time:  21 days


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NL-883950 295 - ая открытка

Country: Netherlands

Distance: 1,133 km

Travel time:  8 days



DE-1131108 294 - ая открытка

Country: Germany

Distance: 1,066 km

Travel time:  6 days

On postcard: New Town Hall, Munich

The New Town Hall (German: Neues Rathaus) is a town hall at the northern part of Marienplatz in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It hosts the city government including the city council, offices of the mayors and part of the administration. In 1874 the municipality had left the Old Town Hall for its new domicile.

The building

It was built between 1867 and 1908 by Georg von Hauberrisser in a Gothic Revival architecture style. It covers an area of 9159 m² having 400 rooms.

The main facade is placed toward the plaza, while the back side is adjacent to a small park (Marienhof). The basement is almost completely occupied by a large restaurant called Ratskeller. On the ground floor, some rooms are rented for small businesses. Also located in the ground floor is the major official tourist information.

The first floor hosts a big balcony towards the Marienplatz which is used for large festivals such as football championships or for concerts during the Weihnachtsmarkt. Its main tower has a height of 85 m and is available for visitors with an elevator. On the top thrones the Münchner Kindl. The Rathaus-Glockenspiel, performed by an apparatus daily on 11am, 12pm and 5pm, is a tourist attraction.



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Country: Mexico

Distance: 9,504 km

Travel time:  50 days

On postcard: La Bufadora

La Bufadora is a marine geyser or blowhole located on the Punta Banda Peninsula in Baja California, Mexico. The spout of sea water is the result of air, trapped in a sea cave, exploding upwards. Air is forced into the cave by wave action and is released when the water recedes. This interaction not only creates the spout, but a thunderous noise as well. The phenomena repeats every minute or so with its volume depending on the strength of the waves.

La Bufadora is the one of the largest blowholes in North America, often shooting upwards more than 30 metres (100 ft) above sea level. The exhibit hall roof top is approximately 24 metres (80 ft) above sea level and the blowhole frequently sprays above it.


La Bufadora regularly draws tourists visiting Ensenada, a city located roughly 30 kilometres (19 mi) to the north. On days when cruise ships visit Ensenada, several bus lines compete to bring tourists to the site. The last few miles of the drive are especially beautiful, with long vistas over the sea from cliff tops, but fog can sometimes obscure the views. A very large number of vendors, often selling regional arts and crafts, curios, and food, congregate in small shops crammed side by side along the one-lane asphalted road to the blowhole. There are a few sit-down restaurants and a lot of take-away food shops. The blowhole itself is very hard to see from most parts of the viewing area, and some people climb up on the steep bare rock face above it to try to get a better view. This can be very dangerous due to slippery and wet rocks. On busy days, the number of local Mexican tourists jammed into the viewing area can be in the hundreds.



US-1400668 292 - ая открытка

Country: USA

Distance: 7,361 km

Travel time:  8 days

On postcard: Coquerel’s dwarf lemur

This nocturnal primate is one of the world’s smallest, weighing about 12 oz. The dwarf lemur is nocturnal and spends its day in spherical nests in the forks of the large trees of the deciduous forests in western Madagascar where they threatened by habitat destruction.

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Rīga, Latvijas Republika

Riga (Latvian: Rīga) is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants (July 2011) Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial, cultural and financial centre of the Baltic Sea region.The city lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the river Daugava. Riga's territory covers 307.17 km2 (118.60 sq mi) and lies between 1 and 10 metres (3.3 and 33 ft) above sea level, on a flat and sandy plain.

Riga was founded in 1201 and is a former Hanseatic League member. Riga's historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture and 19th century wooden architecture. The city will be the European Capital of Culture in 2014, along with Umeå in Sweden. The city hosted the 2006 NATO Summit, the Eurovision Song Contest 2003 and the 2006 IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships. It is home to the European Union's office of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). Riga is served by Riga International Airport, the largest airport in the Baltic states.

Riga is a member of Eurocities, the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC) and Union of Capitals of the European Union (UCEU). Riga is considered a global city.


One theory for the origin of the name Riga is that it is a corrupted borrowing from the Liv ringa meaning loop, referring to the ancient natural harbour formed by the tributary loop of the Daugava. The other is that Riga owes its name to this already-established role in commerce between East and West, as a borrowing of the Latvian rija, for threshing barn, the "j" becoming a "g" in German — notably, Riga is called Rie by English geographer Richard Hakluyt (1589), and German historian Dionysius Fabricius (1610) confirms the origin of Riga from rija. Another theory could be that Riga was named after Riege, the German name for the River Rīdzene, a tributary of the Daugava.



The river Daugava has been a trade route since antiquity, part of the Vikings' Dvina-Dnieper navigation route to Byzantium. A sheltered natural harbour 15 km (9.3 mi) upriver from the mouth of the Daugava — the site of today's Riga — has been recorded, as Duna Urbs, as early as the 2nd century. It was settled by the Livs, an ancient Finnic tribe.

Riga began to develop as a centre of Viking trade during the early Middle Ages. Riga's inhabitants occupied themselves mainly with fishing, animal husbandry, and trading, later developing crafts (in bone, wood, amber, and iron).

The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia testifies to Riga having long been a trading centre by the 12th century, referring to it as portus antiquus (ancient port), and describes dwellings and warehouses used to store mostly corn, flax, and hides. German traders began visiting Riga, establishing a nearby outpost in 1158.

Along with German traders also arrived the monk Meinhard of Segeberg to convert the pagans to Christianity. (Catholic and Orthodox Christianity had already arrived in Latvia more than a century earlier, and many Latvians baptised) Meinhard settled among the Livs, building a castle and church at Ikšķile, upstream from Riga, and established his bishopric there. The Livs, however, continued to practice paganism and Meinhard died in Ikšķile in 1196, having failed his mission. In 1198 the Bishop Bertold arrived with a contingent of crusaders and commenced a campaign of forced Christianization. Bertold was killed soon afterwards and his forces defeated.

The Church mobilised to avenge. Pope Innocent III issued a bull declaring a crusade against the Livonians. Bishop Albert was proclaimed Bishop of Livonia by his uncle Hartwig of Uthlede, Prince-Archbishop of Bremen and Hamburg in 1199. Albert landed in Riga in 1200 with 23 ships and 500 Westphalian crusaders. In 1201 he transferred the seat of the Livonian bishopric from Ikšķile to Riga, extorting agreement to do so from the elders of Riga by force.

Under Bishop Albert

1201 also marked the first arrival of German merchants in Novgorod, via the Dvina. To defend territory and trade, Albert established the Order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword in 1202, open to nobles and merchants.

Christianization of the Livs continued. 1207 marked Albert's start on fortification of the town.  Emperor Philip's invested Albert with Livonia as a fief and principality of the Holy Roman Empire. To promote a permanent military presence, territorial ownership was divided between the Church and the Order, with the Church taking Riga and two thirds of all lands conquered and granting the Order a third. Until then, it had been customary for crusaders to serve for a year and then return home.

Albert had ensured Riga's commercial future by obtaining papal bulls which decreed that all German merchants had to carry on their Baltic trade through Riga. In 1211, Riga minted its first coinage, and Albert laid the cornerstone for the Riga Dom. Riga was not yet secure as an alliance of tribes failed to take Riga. In 1212, Albert led a campaign to compel Polotsk to grant German merchants free river passage. Polotsk conceded Kukenois (Koknese) and Jersika to Albert, also ending the Livs' tribute to Polotsk.

Riga's merchant citizenry chafed and sought greater autonomy from the Church. In 1221 they acquired the right to independently self-administer Riga and adopted a city constitution.

That same year Albert was compelled to recognize Danish rule over lands they had conquered in Estonia and Livonia. Albert had sought the aid of King Valdemar of Denmark to protect Riga and Livonian lands against Liv insurrection when reinforcements could not reach Riga. The Danes landed in Livonia, built a fortress at Reval (Tallinn), and set about conquering Estonian and Livonian lands. The Germans attempted, but failed, to assassinate Valdemar. Albert was able to reach an accommodation a year later, however, and in 1222 Valdemar returned all Livonian lands and possessions to Albert's control.

Albert's difficulties with Riga's citizenry continued; with papal intervention, a settlement was reached in 1225 whereby they no longer had to pay tax to the Bishop of Riga, and Riga's citizens acquired the right to elect their magistrates and town councilors. In 1226, Albert consecrated the Dom Cathedral, built St. James's Church,and founding a parochial school at the Church of St. George.

In 1227, Albert conquered Oesel and the city of Riga concluded a treaty with the Principality of Smolensk giving Polotsk to Riga.

Albert died in January 1229.He failed his aspiration to be anointed archbishop but the German hegemony he established over the Baltics would last for seven centuries.

Hanseatic League

In 1282 Riga became a member of the Hanseatic League. The Hansa was instrumental in giving Riga economic and political stability, thus providing the city with a strong foundation which endured the political conflagrations that were to come, down to modern times.

Holy Roman Empire, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Swedish and Russian Empires

As the influence of the Hansa waned, Riga became the object of foreign military, political, religious and economic aspirations. Riga accepted the Reformation in 1522, ending the power of the archbishops. In 1524, a venerated statue of the Virgin Mary in the Cathedral was denounced as a witch, and given a trial by water in the Daugava River. The statue floated, so it was denounced as a witch and burnt at Kubsberg.[36] With the demise of the Livonian Order during the Livonian War, Riga for twenty years had the status of a Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire before it came under the influence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by the Treaty of Drohiczyn, which ended the war for Riga in 1581. In 1621, during the Polish–Swedish War (1621–1625), Riga and the outlying fortress of Daugavgriva came under the rule of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, who intervened in the Thirty Years' War not only for political and economic gain but also in favour of German Lutheran Protestantism. During the Russo-Swedish War (1656–1658), Riga withstood a siege by Russian forces.

Riga remained the largest city in Sweden until 1710, a period during which the city retained a great deal of autonomous self-government. In that year, in the course of the Great Northern War, Russia under Tsar Peter the Great besieged Riga. Along with the other Livonian towns and gentry, Riga capitulated to Russia, but largely retained their privileges. Riga was made the capital of the Governorate of Riga (later: Livonia). Sweden's northern dominance had ended, and Russia's emergence as the strongest Northern power was formalised through the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. Peter the Great was a big fan of Riga. He married Latvian Martha Skavronskaya, after his death known as Empress Ekaterina I. Having received a palace as a gift from the municipality of Riga (although he insisted on paying), Peter used to visit Riga regularly. He helped to rebuild the tallest church in Riga (St.Peter's church) after it was burned down, and created a general plan for Riga's development, including planning many parks and boulevards, and planting some trees himself. Riga became an industrialised port city of the Russian empire, in which it remained until World War I. By 1900, Riga was the third largest city in Russia after Moscow and Saint Petersburg in terms of the number of industrial workers and number of theatres.

During these many centuries of war and changes of power in the Baltic, and despite demographic changes, the Baltic Germans in Riga had maintained a dominant position. By 1867 Riga's population was 42.9% German. Riga employed German as its official language of administration until the installation of Russian in 1891 as the official language in the Baltic provinces, as part of the policy of Russification of the non-Russian speaking territories of the Russian Empire, including Congress Poland, Finland and the Baltics, undertaken by Tsar Alexander III. More and more Latvians started moving to the city during the mid-19th century. The rise of a Latvian bourgeoisie made Riga a centre of the Latvian National Awakening with the founding of the Riga Latvian Association in 1868 and the organisation of the first national song festival in 1873. The nationalist movement of the Young Latvians was followed by the socialist New Current during the city's rapid industrialisation, culminating in the 1905 Revolution led by the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party.

Interwar period

The 20th century brought World War I and the impact of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to Riga. The German army marched into Riga on 3 September 1917. On 3 March 1918 the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, giving the Baltic countries to Germany. Because of the Armistice with Germany of 11 November 1918, Germany had to renounce that treaty, as did Russia, leaving Latvia and the other Baltic States in a position to claim independence. Latvia, with Riga as its capital city, thus declared its independence on November 18, 1918.

Between World War I and World War II (1918–1940), Riga and Latvia shifted their focus from Russia to the countries of Western Europe. The United Kingdom and Germany replaced Russia as Latvia's major trade partners.

World War II and the Soviet Union

During World War II, Latvia was occupied first by the Soviet Union in June 1940 and then by Nazi Germany in 1941–1944. The Baltic Germans were forcibly repatriated to Germany. The city's Jewish community was forced into the Riga Ghetto and concentration camps were constructed in Kaiserwald and the city of Salaspils.

In October 1944 Latvia was once again occupied by the Red Army. As a result of the war Latvia lost approximately one-third of its population. Industrialization and growth of infrastructure led to many people from other parts of Soviet Union moving to Riga, and most of those people were not of Latvian ethnicity. In effect, as a Latvian city it never really had a majority Latvian population other than a short 20 year long period between wars.

Restoration of independence and onwards

The policy of economic reform, introduced in 1986 as Perestroika, led to dissolution of the Soviet Union and restoration of independent Latvia in 1991. Latvia formally joined the United Nations as an independent country on 17 September 1991. In 2004 Latvia joined both NATO and the European Union.

In 2004, the arrival of low-cost airlines resulted in cheaper flights from other European cities such as London and Berlin and consequently a substantial increase in numbers of tourists.


Rijeka, Republika Hrvatska

Rijeka (Croatian: Rijeka, Italian and Hungarian: Fiume, other Croatian dialects: Reka or Rika, Slovene: Reka, German: Sankt Veit am Flaum or Pflaum (both historical)) is the principal seaport and the third largest city in Croatia (after Zagreb and Split). It is located on Kvarner Bay, an inlet of the Adriatic Sea and has a population of 128,735 inhabitants (2011). The conurbation, which includes adjacent towns and municipalities of Opatija, Lovran, Mošćenička Draga, Matulji, Kastav, Viškovo, Klana, Kostrena, Čavle, Jelenje, Bakar, and Kraljevica has a population of 213,842 (2011).

Historically, because of its strategic position and its excellent deep-water Port of Rijeka, the city was fiercely contested, especially between Italy, Hungary, and Croatia, changing hands and demographics many times over centuries. According to the 2001 census data, the overwhelming majority of its citizens (80.39%) are Croats, with Serbs coming in second (6.21%). The Serbo-Croat, Slovene and Italian version of the city's name mean river in each of the languages.

Rijeka is the center of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County in Croatia. The city's economy largely depends on shipbuilding (shipyards "3. Maj" and "Viktor Lenac") and maritime transport. Rijeka hosts the Croatian National Theatre "Ivan pl. Zajc", first built in 1765, as well as the University of Rijeka, founded in 1973 but with roots dating back to 1632.

Ancient and medieval times

Though traces of Neolithic settlements can be found in the region, the earliest modern settlements on the site were Celtic Tarsatica (modern Trsat, now part of Rijeka) on the hill, and the tribe of mariners, the Liburni, in the natural harbour below. The city long retained its double character.

In the time of Augustus, the Romans rebuilt Tarsatica as a municipium (MacMullen 2000) on the right bank of the small river Rječina (whose name means "the big river") as Flumen. Pliny mentioned Tarsatica (Natural History iii.140).

From the 5th century onwards, the town was ruled successively by the Ostrogoths, the Byzantines, the Lombards, the Avars, the Franks, the Croats, the Hungarians and the Venetians before coming under the control of the Archduchy of Austria ruled by Austrian Habsburgs in 1466, where it remained for over 450 years except French rule between 1805 and 1813, until its occupation by Italian and Croat irregulars at the end of the first world war.

After the 4th century the city was rededicated to St. Vitus, the city's patron saint, as Terra Fluminis sancti Sancti Viti or in German Sankt Veit am Pflaum. In medieval times Rijeka got its Croatian name, Rika svetoga Vida (= the river of St. Vitus).

Medieval Rijeka was a city surrounded by a wall and was thus a feudal stronghold. The fort was in the center of the city, at its highest point.

Under Habsburg sovereignty

After coming under Austrian Rule in 1466, Sankt Veit am Pflaum grew as part of the Holy Roman Empire and was eventually turned into a free port in 1723.During the 18th and 19th centuries was passed among the Habsburgs' Austrian, Croatian, and Hungarian possessions until being attached to Hungary for the third and last time in 1870. The City of Rijeka was governed (as a corpus separatum) directly from Budapest by an appointed governor, as Hungary's only international port. There was competition between Austria's Port of Trieste and Hungary's Port of Fiume. In the early 19th century, the prominent economical and cultural leader of the city was Andrija Ljudevit Adamić.

Fiume also had a significant naval base, and in the mid-19th century it became the site of the Austro-Hungarian Naval Academy (K.u.K. Marine-Akademie), where the Austro-Hungarian Navy trained its officers.

Giovanni de Ciotta (Mayor from 1872 to 1896) proved to be the most authoritative local political leader. Under his leadership, an impressive phase of expansion of the city started, marked by major port development, fuelled by the general expansion of international trade and the city's connection (1873) to the Hungarian and Austrian railway networks. Modern industrial and commercial enterprises such as the Royal Hungarian Sea Navigation Company "Adria", and the Papermill, situated in the Rječina canyon, producing worldwide known cigarette paper, became trademarks of the city.

The second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century (up to WWI) was a period of rapid economic growth and technological dynamism for Rijeka. The industrial development of the city included the first industrial scale oil refinery in Europe in 1882 and the first torpedo factory in the world in 1866, after Robert Whitehead, manager of the "Stabilimento Tecnico Fiumano" (an Austrian engineering company engaged in providing engines for the Austro-Hungarian Navy), designed and successfully tested the world's first torpedo. Rijeka also became a pioneering center for high speed photography. The Austrian physicist dr. Peter Salcher working in Rijeka's Austro-Hungarian Marine Academy took the first photograph of a bullet flying at supersonic speed in 1886, devising a technique that was later used by Ernst Mach in his studies of supersonic motion. Rijeka's port underwent a tremendous development fuelled by heavy Hungarian investment, becoming the main maritime outlet for Hungary and the eastern part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the fifth port in the Mediterranean, after Marseilles, Genova, Naples and Trieste. The population grew rapidly from only 21,000 in 1880 to 50,000 in 1910. A lot of major civic buildings went up at that time, including the Governor's Palace designed by the Hungarian architect Alajos Hauszmann.

Apart from the rapid economic growth, the period encompassing the second half of the 19th and up to WWI also saw a shift in the ethnic composition of the city. Kingdom of Hungary, which administered the city in that period, favored the Italian element in the city and encouraged the Italian immigration at the detriment of Croats, with whom Hungarians at the time had a difficult relationship and who claimed the city should be part of Croatia-Slavonia (while Hungarians considered the city to be a corpus separatum). At the turn of the century, Hungarians had 10 secondary schools and 4 elementary schools in the city, Italians had 5 secondary and 21 elementary schools, while Croats had no schools at all. In 1910, there were 24,000 Italians, but only 13,000 Croats in Rijeka (in addition to the 6,500 Hungarians and several thousands of other nationalities, mostly Slovenians and Germans), giving the city a decidedly Italian character.

The future mayor of New York City, Fiorello La Guardia, lived in the city at the turn of the 20th century, and reportedly even played football for the local sports club.

he Italo-Yugoslav dispute and the Free State

Habsburg-ruled Austria-Hungary's disintegration in the closing weeks of World War I in the fall of 1918 led to the establishment of rival Croatian and Italian administrations in the city; both Italy and the founders of the new Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) claimed sovereignty based on their "irredentist" ("unredeemed") ethnic populations.

After a brief Serbian occupation, an international force of Italian, French, British and American troops occupied the city (November 1918) while its future was discussed at the Paris Peace Conference during the course of 1919.

Italy based its claim on the fact that Italians were the largest single nationality within the city, 88% of total. Croats made up most of the remainder and were also a majority in the surrounding area, including the neighbouring town of Sušak. Andrea Ossoinack, who had been the last delegate from Fiume to the Hungarian Parliament, was admitted to the conference as a representative of Fiume, and essentially supported the Italian claims.

On 10 September 1919, the Treaty of Saint-Germain was signed declaring the Austro-Hungarian monarchy dissolved. Negotiations over the future of the city were interrupted two days later when a force of Italian nationalist irregulars led by the poet Gabriele d'Annunzio seized control of the city by force; d'Annunzio eventually established a state, the Italian Regency of Carnaro.

The resumption of Italy's premiership by the liberal Giovanni Giolitti in June 1920 signaled a hardening of official attitudes to d'Annunzio's coup. On 12 November, Italy and Yugoslavia concluded the Treaty of Rapallo, under which Rijeka was to be an independent state, the Free State of Fiume, under a regime acceptable to both. D'Annunzio's response was characteristically flamboyant and of doubtful judgment: his declaration of war against Italy invited the bombardment by Italian royal forces which led to his surrender of the city at the end of the year, after five days' resistance. Italian troops took over in January 1921. The election of an autonomist-led constituent assembly for the territory did not put an end to strife: a brief Italian nationalist seizure of power was ended by the intervention of an Italian royal commissioner, and a short-lived local Fascist takeover in March 1922 ended in a third Italian military occupation. Seven months later Italy herself fell under Fascist rule.

A period of diplomatic acrimony closed with the Treaty of Rome (27 January 1924), which assigned Rijeka to Italy and Sušak to Yugoslavia, with joint port administration. Formal Italian annexation (16 March 1924) inaugurated twenty years of Italian government.

Rijeka in World War II

At the beginning of WWII Rijeka immediately found itself in an awkward position. The city was overwhelmingly Italian, but its immediate surroundings and the city of Sušak, just across the Rječina river (today a suburb of Rijeka proper) were inhabited almost exclusively by Croatians and part of a potentially hostile power – Yugoslavia. Once the Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941, the Croatian areas surrounding the city were occupied by the Italian military, setting the stage for an intense and bloody insurgency which would last until the end of the war. Partisan activity included guerrilla-style attacks on isolated positions or supply columns, sabotage and killings of civilians believed to be connected to the Italian and (later) German authorities. This, in turn, was met by stiff retributions from the Italian and German military. On 14 July 1942, in reprisal for the killing of 4 Italian citizens by the Partisans, the Italian military killed 100 men from the suburban village of Podhum, resettling the remaining 800 people to concentration camps.

After the surrender of Italy to the Allies in September 1943, Rijeka and the surrounding territories were annexed by Germany, becoming part of the Adriatic Littoral Zone. The partisan activity continued and intensified. On 30 April 1944, in the nearby village of Lipa, German troops killed 263 civilians as a retaliation for the killings of several soldiers during a partisan attack.

Because of its industries (oil refinery, torpedo factory, shipyards) and its port facilities, the city was also a target of frequent (more than 30) Anglo-American air attacks, which caused widespread destruction and many hundreds of civilian deaths. Some of the worst bombardments happened on 12 January 1944 (attack on the refinery, part of the Oil Campaign), on 3–6 November 1944, when a series of attacks resulted in at least 125 deaths and between 15 and 25 February 1945 (200 dead, 300 wounded).

The area of Rijeka was heavily fortified even before WWII (the remains of these fortifications can be seen today on the city outskirts). This was the fortified border between Italy and Yugoslavia which, at that time, cut across the city area and its surroundings. When the Yugoslav troops started to approach the city in April 1945, one of the fiercest and largest battles in this area of Europe ensued. The 27000 German and additional Italian troops fought tenaciously from behind these fortifications (renamed "Ingridstellung" – Ingrid Line – by the Germans). Under the command of the German general Ludwig Kübler they inflicted many thousands of casualties on the attacking Yugoslav partisans, which were forced to charge uphill against well fortified positions to the north and east of the city. Ultimately the Germans were forced to retreat. Before leaving the city, in an act of wanton destruction (WWII was almost over), the German troops destroyed the harbour area and all the infrastructure with a number of huge explosive charges. The German attempt to break out of the partisan encirclement north-west of the city was however unsuccessful. Of the approximately 27000 German and other troops retreating from the city, 11000 were killed (many were executed after surrendering), while the remaining 16000 were taken prisoner. Yugoslav troops entered Rijeka on 3 May 1945.

Post World War II

The aftermath of the war saw the city's fate again resolved by a combination of force and diplomacy. This time the city of Rijeka became Yugoslav, a situation formalized by the Paris peace treaty between Italy and the wartime Allies on 10 February 1947. Once the change in sovereignty was formalized, 58,000 of the 66,000 Italian speakers choose exile (known in Italian as esuli or the exiled ones) rather than enduring the repression by the new Yugoslav communist authorities. The discrimination and persecution many of them experienced at the hands of the Yugoslav populace and officials in the last days of World War II and the first Years of peace still remain painful memories. Summary executions of alleged fascists, Italian public servants, military officials and even ordinary civilians (at least 650 Italians were executed immediately after the war), forced most ethnic Italians to abandon Rijeka in order to avoid this type of ethnic cleansing.

In the immediate post-WWII period, the city was resettled by many immigrants from various parts of Yugoslavia changing the city demographics once again, and a period of reconstruction began. During the period of the Yugoslav communist administration in the 1950s–1980s the city grew both demographically and economically, based on its traditional manufacturing industries, its maritime economy and its port, then the largest in Yugoslavia. However, many of these industries were mostly a product of a socialist planned economy and could not be sustained once the economy transitioned to a more market oriented model in the early 1990s.

In 1991 the city once again changed hands, becoming part of Croatia, which broke off from Yugoslavia during the Croatian War of Independence. Since then, the city is somewhat stagnating both economically as well as demographically, with some of its largest industries and employers either going out of business (the Jugolinija shipping company, the Torpedo factory, the Paper mill and many other medium or small manufacturing and commercial companies) or struggling to stay economically viable (the city's landmark 3. Maj shipyards). A difficult and uncertain transition of the city economy away from manufacturing and towards services and tourism is still in progress.

Climate and geography

Rijeka's position overlooking the Kvarner Bay with its islands (Cres, Krk) on the south, the Učka mountain on the west, the mountains of Gorski kotar to the north and the Velebit range to the east offers an impressive natural setting.

The terrain configuration, with mountains raising steeply just a few miles inland from the shores of the Adriatic, provides for some striking climatic and landscape contrasts in a small geographic area. Beaches can be enjoyed throughout summer in a typically Mediterranean environment along the coastal areas of the city to the east (Pećine, Kostrena) and west (Kantrida, Preluk). At the same time, the ski resort of Platak, located only about 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) from the city, offers alpine skiing and abundant snow during winter months (at times until early May). The Kvarner Bay and its islands can be observed from the ski slopes.

Rijeka has a Humid subtropical climate with warm summers and relatively mild and rainy winters. Snow is rare (usually 3 days per year, almost always in traces). There are 22 days a year with maximum of 30 °C (86 °F) or higher, while one day a year temperature does not exceed 0 °C (32 °F). Fog appears in about 4 days per year, mainly in winter. The climate is also characterized by frequent rainfall. Cold bura (bora) winds are common in winter time.

There are 1922.5 hours of sunshine per year. Maximum is in July with 297.6 hours, while minimum is in December with 97.8 hours of sunshine.

Main sights

- Tvornica "Torpedo" (the Torpedo factory). The first European prototypes of a self-propelled torpedo, created by Giovanni Luppis, a retired naval engineer from Rijeka. The remains of this factory still exist, including a well-preserved launch ramp used for testing self-propelled torpedoes on which in 1866 the first torpedo was tested.

- Svetište Majke Božje Trsatske – the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Trsat. Built 135 meters above the sea on the Trsat hill during the late Middle Ages, it represents the Guardian of Travelers, especially seamen, who bring offerings to her so she will guard them or help them in time of trouble or illness. It is home to the Gothic sculpture of the Madonna of Slunj and to works by the Baroque painter C. Tasce.

- Old gate or Roman arch. At first it was thought that this was a Roman Triumphal Arch built by the Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus but later it was discovered to be just a portal to the pretorium, the army command in late antiquity.

- Rijeka Cathedral, dedicated to St. Vitus.



Cres, Republika Hrvatska

Cres (pronounced [t͡srɛ̂ːs] in Croatian; Italian: Cherso, German: Kersch, Latin: Crepsa, Greek: Χερσος, Chersos) is an Adriatic island in Croatia. It is one of the northern island in the Kvarner Gulf and can be reached via ferry from the island Krk or from the Istrian peninsula (line Brestova-Porozina).

With an area of 405.78 km², Cres is the same size as the neighbouring island of Krk, although Krk has for many years been thought the largest of the islands. Cres has a population of 3,184 (2001).

Cres and the neighbouring island of Lošinj once used to be one island, but were divided by a channel and connected with a bridge at the town of Osor. Cres's only fresh water source is the Lake Vrana.


Cres has been inhabited since the Paleolithic time period and was later ruled by the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Roman Empire the island was taken over and became a part of the Byzantine Empire, and remained this way for centuries. In the 7th Century the Croats invaded the island, and the other islands around it, and took the islands over, however the Croats returned the islands in the early 9th century (believed to be somewhere around 812).

Around 822 Croatia became an independent state, while on the island Croat-Roman tensions grew. Then, around 866 the inhabitants saw the first conflicts between the Croats and the Republic of Venice. The Venetians eventually set up their rule of the islands in the 10th and 11th centuries.

However the Croats regained the islands and the islands went through a change of rulers for centuries, being ruled by Croats, Hungarians, and for 400 years the Venetians took control of the islands. After Napoleon's victory over the Venetians, the island went under Austrian rule. After the defeat of Austria by Napoleon in 1809 the islands became part of the French Empire.

After the fall of Napoleon, Austria once again took control of the island for 100 years. During this time the economy developed with olive trees, sage, and other plants becoming key to the success of the island. At the end of World War I, with the Treaty of Rapallo signed in 1920, the island was once again handed over to Italy. This lasted until 1947 when the Islands, along with Istrian Peninsula, were assigned to Yugoslavia.

The island has gone through an agricultural downturn as many residents left the island in search of a better life on the mainland and abroad. This has resulted in many former agricultural areas becoming overgrown with local vegetation. Recently people, primarily retirees, have been returning to live on the island. Tourism has become an increasingly important industry and the population experiences significant seasonal variation.

Towns of Cres

The island has many towns, all of them connected by a road that runs down the middle of the island. On one side is the ferry from the mainland (around the city of Pula); on the other is the bridge to Lošinj (Lussino), which was once linked the two but is now separated by a waterway. Approaching the island from Pula, you will first come to Porozina.


Cres is a Croatian town found on the Island of Cres which can be found directly off the Istrian Peninsula and in the Kvarner Gulf.


Cres is basically a city on the bay, as its town docks come directly into the middle of the city and are filled with boats. There is a car park at the entrance to the city, along with multiple restaurants and a gas station. Upon entering the city through one of the gates there are narrow paths you must walk through, of houses and small stores. When entering the center there is a huge center, with people selling different homemade goods, there are also shops and open air restaurants in which people can sit on the edge and watch the boats come in.



York, Yorkshire and the Humber, England

Curiosities of York



Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerpen, Koninkrijk België

The Cathedral of Our Lady (Dutch: Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal) is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium. Today's see of the Diocese of Antwerp was started in 1352 and, although the first stage of construction was ended in 1521, has never been 'completed'. In Gothic style, its architects were Jan and Pieter Appelmans. It contains a number of significant works by the Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens, as well as paintings by artists such as Otto van Veen, Jacob de Backer and Marten de Vos.

The cathedral is on the list of World Heritage Sites.


Where the cathedral now stands, there was a small chapel of Our Lady from the 9th to the 12th century, which acquired the status of parish church in 1124. During the course of the twelfth century, it was replaced by a larger Romanesque church (80 metres (260 ft) long and 42 metres (138 ft) wide).

In 1352, construction was begun on a new Our Lady’s church which would become the largest Gothic church in the Netherlands. In the beginning, it was to be provided with two towers of equal height. In 1521, after nearly 170 years, the new church of Our Lady was ready. The south tower reached only as far as the third string course.

During the night of 5–6 October 1533, the new church was largely gutted by fire. The completion of the second tower was therefore delayed, which led to its ultimate postponement. Moreover, the church only became cathedral of the bishopric of Antwerp in 1559 but lost this title again from 1801 to 1961, following the Concordat of 1801. During the Iconoclasm of 20 August 1566 (at the start of the Eighty Years' War), Protestants destroyed a large part of the cathedral interior. Later, when Antwerp came under Protestant administration in 1581, a number of artistic treasures were once again destroyed, removed or sold. The restoration of Roman Catholic authority came in 1585 with the fall of Antwerp.

In 1794 the French revolutionaries that conquered the region plundered Our Lady’s Cathedral and inflicted serious damage. Around 1798, the French administration intended to demolish the building but after each blow, the cathedral was able to recover. In 1816, various important works of art were returned from Paris, including three Rubens masterpieces. And over the course of the 19th century, the church was completely restored and refurnished.

Between 1965 and 1993, a complete restoration took place.

Musical life

At the beginning of the 15th century, the cathedral's choir started developing an active musical life, and as a result, the cathedral's importance in the history of music soon soared. Johannes Ockeghem, one of the most important composers of the 15th century, served here as a vicar-singer in 1443, and so did Jacob Obrecht between 1492 and 1497. Organists who worked at the cathedral include Henry Bredemers (1493–1501), who went on to become a teacher to Philip the Handsome's children, and the renowned English composer John Bull (1615–1628), who fled to Flanders from his home country escaping justice. From 1725 to 1731 Willem de Fesch served as Kapelmeester followed from 1731 to 1737 by Joseph-Hector Fiocco. Lesser known, but locally important figures, such as Jacobus Barbireau and Andreas Pevernage, also worked at the cathedral.

Significant architectural details

The church's one finished spire is 123 metres (404 ft) high, the highest church tower in the Benelux. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor commented that the spire should be kept under glass, and Napoleon compared the spire to Mechlin lace. The largest bell in the tower requires 16 bell ringers.

The west portal features statues which include the missionary Saint Willibrordus. He is thought to have spent time in Antwerp in the 7th century.

Major works of art

Two of these artworks were taken from the cathedral to France by Napoleon, The Raising of the Cross and The Descent from the Cross, but were returned to the cathedral in the 19th century.