Tuesday, 25 June 2019

SOFIA, BULGARIA

Sofia (Bulgarian: София, tr. Sofiya) is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. 1.26 million people live in the city and 1.68 million people live in its metropolitan area. The city is at the foot of Vitosha Mountain in the western part of the country. Being in the centre of the Balkan peninsula, it is midway between the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea, and closest to the Aegean Sea. Sofia has been an area of human habitation since at least 7000 BC.

Being Bulgaria’s primate city, Sofia is a hometown of many of the major local universities, cultural institutions and commercial companies. Sofia is one of the top 10 best places for start-up business in the world, especially in information technologies. Sofia is Europe’s most affordable capital to visit as of 2013.

The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Built in Neo-Byzantine style, it serves as the cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria and is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world, as well as one of Sofia’s symbols and primary tourist attractions. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia occupies an area of 3,170 square metres and can hold 10,000 people inside. It is the second biggest cathedral located on the Balkan Peninsula after the Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a cross-domed basilica featuring an emphasised central dome. The cathedral's gold-plated dome is 45 m high, with the bell tower reaching 53 metres. The temple has 12 bells with total weight of 23 tons, the heaviest weighing 12 tons and the lightest 10 kilograms. The interior is decorated with Italian marble in various colours, Brazilian onyx, alabaster, and other luxurious materials. The central dome has the Lord’s Prayer inscribed around it, with thin gold letters.

The construction of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral started in 1882 (having been planned since 19 February, 1879), when the foundation stone was laid, but most of it was built between 1904 and 1912. Saint Alexander Nevsky was a Russian prince. The cathedral was created in honour to the Russian soldiers who died during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, as a result of which Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule.

The cathedral was designed by Alexander Pomerantsev, aided by Alexander Smirnov and Alexander Yakovlev, as the initial 1884-1885 project of Ivan Bogomolov was radically changed by Pomerantsev. The final design was finished in 1898, and the construction and decoration were done by a team of Bulgarian, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and other European artists, architects and workers.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

FED SQ, OUT & IN

Federation Square is a civic centre and cultural precinct in the city of Melbourne. It is a mixed-use development covering an area of 3.2 hectares and centred around two major public spaces, open squares (St. Paul's Court and The Square) and one covered (The Atrium,) built on top of a concrete deck above busy railway lines. It was opened in 2002. 

Controversial since the demolition of the industrial buildings that preceded it, Federation Square is also globally famous for its alleged ugliness. In 2009, the Melbourne newspaper The Herald Sun reported that Federation Square is fifth on its list of eyesores, alongside a library in Kosovo, a television tower in Prague and New Zealand's 1970s-era parliament building. A poll conducted by the newspaper also found that 64.13% of the random 2000 Melburnians surveyed responded "Yes, it's an eyesore". The 124 comments on this news article range from the most favourable which suggest that while Federation Square is not picturesque, Melburnians should "get over" the concrete ugliness of it to those who strongly advocate the demolition of an unsightly building that is a "pimple" in a heritage-landscape - with St Paul's Cathedral and Flinders Street Station in its immediate vicinity.

It is Victoria’s second most popular tourist attraction, attracting 8.99 million visitors in 2011. Unlike many Australian landmarks, it was not opened by the Queen, nor was she invited to its unveiling. Federation Square is home to The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria Australia; ACMI; NGV Kids Corner and No Vacancy Project Space; as well as a wide range of restaurants, cafés, bars, visitor services and shops. The Melbourne Visitor Centre is also located at Federation Square, providing a one-stop shop for information on Melbourne for local, interstate and international visitors alike.

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme,
and also part of the Photo Sunday meme.


Saturday, 22 June 2019

MOORHEN

The Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) is a medium-sized, dark grey-black water bird with a white undertail. It has a red bill with a yellow tip and a red facial shield. Young birds are much duller and browner than adults, with a greenish bill and face shield. It is found from Indonesia through New Guinea to Australia. It is widespread in eastern and south-western Australia, ranging from Cooktown to eastern South Australia and in the southern corner of Western Australia.

Dusky Moorhens are found in wetlands, including swamps, rivers, and artificial waterways. They prefer open water and water margins with reeds, rushes and waterlilies, but may be found on grasses close to water such as parks, pastures and lawns. The Dusky Moorhen has been favoured by artificial water sources such as dams, ponds and lakes in parks and gardens and associated grassy areas. However, wetland drainage in other areas may have negative impacts.

These birds feed in the water and on land on algae, water plants and grasses, as well as seeds, fruits, molluscs and other invertebrates. They will also eat carrion (dead animals) and the droppings of other birds. They do not dive when feeding; the tail is always visible above the water when upended.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme.

Friday, 21 June 2019

BERRY SKY

Auranticarpa rhombifolia is a rainforest tree of eastern Australia. Known as the diamond leaf pittosporum, this tree is planted in many parts of Australia as an ornamental. The white flowers and orange fruit make it a most appealing street or garden tree. Other common names include hollywood, diamond leaf laurel, white myrtle and white holly. 

Australian botanists recently examined the large genus Pittosporum and decided the more northerly examples are significantly different from those in the south. Subsequently, a new genus was created Auranticarpa, which means "gold fruit". The range of natural distribution is on red–brown basaltic soils from Richmond River, New South Wales (28° S) to Forty Mile Scrub National Park (18° S) in tropical Queensland.

The tree grows well in Melbourne and its masses of small golden orange fruit make for a cheerful sight in Winter.

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

FRANGIPANI

Plumeria is a genus of flowering plants in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae. It contains primarily deciduous shrubs and small trees. They are native to Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America as far south as Brazil but can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Plumeria is related to the Oleander, Nerium oleander, and both possess an irritant, rather similar to that of Euphorbia. Contact with the sap may irritate eyes and skin. 

Each of the separate species of Plumeria bears differently shaped, alternate leaves with distinct form and growth habits. The leaves of P. alba are quite narrow and corrugated, whereas leaves of P. pudica have an elongated shape and glossy, dark-green colour. P. pudica is one of the everblooming types with non-deciduous, evergreen leaves. Another species that retains leaves and flowers in winter is P. obtusa; though its common name is "Singapore," it is originally from Colombia.

Plumeria flowers are most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. The flowers have no nectar, however, and simply dupe their pollinators. The moths inadvertently pollinate them by transferring pollen from flower to flower in their fruitless search for nectar. Plumeria species may be propagated easily from cuttings of leafless stem tips in spring. Cuttings are allowed to dry at the base before planting in well-drained soil. Cuttings are particularly susceptible to rot in moist soil.

In order to get the most from a plumeria plant with respect to growth, size, blooms, and scent, there is a fine balance that must be maintained. Ideally, a plumeria is in its element when it can have plenty of sun and appropriate water, so as to maintain soil moistness just above a state of dryness. On the other hand, if the plant receives a lesser amount of sun, then a lesser amount of watering is necessary - again, to ensure that soil moistness stays just above the dry state. The more sun, the more water. The less sun, the less water. A common mistake of novice plumeria growers is to overwater the plant when it is not able to be exposed to enough sun, thereby resulting in a rotted root system. Conversely, if a plumeria plant is able to receive maximum exposure to the sun, but they aren't watered enough, the plant will die.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

XENON

Xenon | ˈzɛnɒn, ˈziːɛnɒn | noun [mass noun]
The chemical element of atomic number 54, a member of the noble gas series. It is obtained by distillation of liquid air, and is used in some specialised electric lamps. (Symbol: Xe)
ORIGIN
Late 19th century: from Greek, neuter of xenos ‘strange’.

A xenon arc lamp is a highly specialised type of gas discharge lamp, an electric light that produces light by passing electricity through ionised xenon gas at high pressure. It produces a bright white light that closely mimics natural sunlight, with applications in movie projectors in theatres, in searchlights, and for specialised uses in industry and research to simulate sunlight, often for product testing. Xenon headlamps in automobiles are actually metal-halide lamps, where a xenon arc is only used during start-up to correct the colour temperature.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

NAPLES, ITALY

Naples (Italian: Napoli; Latin: Neapolis; Ancient Greek: Νεάπολις, meaning "new city") is the capital of the Italian region Campania and the third-largest municipality in Italy, after Rome and Milan. In 2015, around 975,260 people lived within the city's administrative limits. Naples is the 9th-most populous urban area in the European Union with a population of between 3 million and 3.7 million. About 4.4 million people live in the Naples metropolitan area, one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea.

Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Bronze Age Greek settlements were established in the Naples area in the second millennium BC. A larger colony – initially known as Parthenope, Παρθενόπη – developed on the Island of Megaride around the ninth century BC, at the end of the Greek Dark Ages. The city was refounded as Neápolis in the sixth century BC and became a lynchpin of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society and eventually becoming a cultural centre of the Roman Republic. Naples remained influential after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, serving as the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples between 1282 and 1816. Thereafter, in union with Sicily, it became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.

Naples was the most-bombed Italian city during World War II. Much of the city's 20th-century periphery was constructed under Benito Mussolini's fascist government, and during reconstruction efforts after World War II. In recent decades, Naples has constructed a large business district, the Centro Direzionale, and has developed an advanced transport infrastructure, including an Alta Velocità high-speed rail link to Rome and Salerno, and an expanded subway network, which is planned to eventually cover half of the region. The city has experienced significant economic growth in recent decades, and unemployment levels in the city and surrounding Campania have decreased since 1999. However, Naples still suffers from political and economic corruption, and unemployment levels remain high.

Naples' historic city centre is the largest in Europe, covering 1,700 hectares (4,200 acres) and enclosing 27 centuries of history, and is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Naples has long been a major cultural centre with a global sphere of influence, particularly during the Renaissance and Enlightenment eras. In the immediate vicinity of Naples are numerous culturally and historically significant sites, including the Palace of Caserta and the Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Culinarily, Naples is synonymous with pizza, which originated in the city.

Neapolitan music has also been highly influential, credited with the invention of the romantic guitar and the mandolin, as well as notable contributions to opera and folk standards. Popular characters and historical figures who have come to symbolise the city include Januarius, the patron saint of Naples, the comic figure Pulcinella, and the Sirens from the Greek epic poem the Odyssey. According to CNN, the metro stop “Toledo” is the most beautiful in Europe and it won also the LEAF Award 2013 as “Public building of the year”. Naples is the Italian city with the highest number of accredited stars from the Michelin Guide. 

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Monday, 17 June 2019

CRYSTAL CANDLES

Candles burning behind a crystal mosaic window.

This post is part of the Mosaic Monday meme,
and also part of the Seasons meme,
and also part of the Macro Monday meme.