Thursday, March 31, 2011

Postcrossing postcard from Vilnius, Lithuania

I guess you all know Postcrossing, the postcards swap project (if not I invite you to check the website : . I’m part of it because I like receiving mails from all over the world. I like when people send a postcard picturing interesting places located in the area where they live. In this case I try to get some information about those places and it is always a pleasure to learn. The only critic I would make to the project is that you can not choose the country from where you will receive cards. This is completely random.

The item I have selected for today’s post is a card I got from Vilnius, Lithuania, through postcrossing. I like it because it’s a sort of thematic card: the sender took care to use a stamp on it which is closely related to the subject of the card. But first let’s have a look to the picture.

The card pictures Gediminas’s tower. This is the only remaining part of the Upper Castel in Vilnius. The fortifications were built of wood by Duke of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Gediminas. Gediminas (1275-1341) was the ruler of Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1316 to 1341. Despite the fact that the tower bears his name it was completed much later, in 1409, by Grand Duke Vytautas.

The tower now houses an exposition of archeological findings from the area. It is an important symbol of Vilnius and Lithuania in general. It is pictured on the reverse side of 50 litas banknotes as you can see below.

Another interesting fact to mention is that the emblem called Gediminas columns, because iis wrongly considered as the personal symbol of the former ruler, is part of the logo of Lithuanian post, inside the horn.

Back to the card, let’s see the other side.

As you can see the stamp pictures the tower in the background. It also pictures a statue, which is also pictured on the card, and which is the statue of Gediminas which is also located in Vilnius. The sculpture has a rather interesting style, I think.

The stamp was issued in 2009 to celebrate the fact that Vilnius was European Capital of Culture.

The European Capital of Culture is a city designated by the European Union for a period of one calendar year during which it organizes a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension. The European City of Culture program was launched in the summer of 1985 with Athens being thefirst title-holder. In 1999, the European City of Culture program was renamed the European Capital of Culture.

Below is the list of cities that have been selected. As you can see, sometimes more than one city is selected, as it was the case in 2009 where Vilnius shared the title with Linz in Austria.

• 1985: Athens
• 1986: Florence
• 1987: Amsterdam
• 1988: West Berlin
• 1989: Paris
• 1990: Glasgow
• 1991: Dublin
• 1992: Madrid
• 1993: Antwerp
• 1994: Lisbon
• 1995: Luxembourg
• 1996: Copenhagen
• 1997: Thessaloniki
• 1998: Stockholm
• 1999: Weimar
2000: Avignon, Bergen, Bologna, Brussels, Helsinki, Kraków, Prague, Reykjavík, Santiago de Compostela
• 2001: Rotterdam, Porto
• 2002: Bruges, Salamanca
• 2003: Graz
• 2004: Genoa, Lille
• 2005: Cork
• 2006: Patras
• 2007: Sibiu, Luxembourg, Greater Region
• 2008: Liverpool, Stavanger
• 2009: Vilnius Linz
• 2010: Essen (representing the Ruhr), Istanbul, Pécs
• 2011: Turku, Tallinn

The next to come are Guimarães and Maribor for 2012 and Marseille and Košice for 2013.

When seing the stamp on the card I immediately wondered if each concerned country had issued a stamp to commemorate the selection of one of its cities as European Capital of Culture. And I thought also that it could be an interesting topic for a thematic stamp collection!

I made some research and quickly found a few examples of other stamps issued for this occasion. Like this stamp issued by France for Lille in 2004.

Or this stamp for Genoa also in 2004.

Or more recently these two sheets of eight stamps for Istambul in 2010, and this sheet of twenty five stamps for Pecs also in 2010.

So you see, it seems to be a possible field for collection!

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