Tuesday, August 3, 2010

#383 Spain...Thanks Jose!

The 0.34€ stamp was issued in May 2010 commemorating the Jubilee Year of Compostela or Xacobean Year depicting the silhouette of a pilgrim facing the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

The Jubilee Year of Compostela was established in the 12th century and occurs whenever July 25th, feast day of the apostle St. James, falls on a Sunday. The cult of St. James originated when word spread that his remains were buried in the small Roman necropolis of Campo Stellae. A church was buried on the site and it soon became a pilgrimage centre on which a plenary indulgence could be earned. Santiago de Compostela, as Rome and Jerusalem, is one of the most important holy places for Christianity.

During the Middle Ages, the Way of St. James was a transmitter of culture as it was traveled by pilgrims from all over Europe who brought along new styles and influences in architecture, handicrafts and general culture. Along the way and over the years, towns and villages were built with hospitals, monasteries, churches and inns where pilgrims took refuge, fed, and healed if they fell ill. From the XIV century, St James’s path was scarcely traveled through and only very few pilgrims dared to reach Santiago de Compostela.

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela preserves its original barrel-vaulted cruciform Romanesque interior. The construction of the present cathedral began in 1075 over the remains of the former basilica and was finished in the XII century. It has been embellished and expanded in later centuries. The crypt houses the silver reliquary covered in semi precious gems, which according to tradition, must be embraced by pilgrims who arrive at the Cathedral.

The Way of St. James has been declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, European Cultural Itinerary by the Council of Europe and has received the honorific title of Calle Mayor de Europa (Main street of Europe). Since the Xacobeo 93, the Way has been promoted as a tourist resource, restoring the routes and hostels and indicating the Way along which thousands of pilgrims travel every year aiming to reach their final destination.

The 0.45€ stamp is from 2010 The Nature Reserves of Spain series featuring the Garajonay National Park which occupies 3.986 hectares and is located in the centre of the island of La Gomera.

As the rest of the Canary Islands, La Gomera has volcanic origins and thus the characteristic rocks that are found along the island. These are former volcanoes whose shape has been sharpened by erosion. The park provides the best example of laurisilva, a humid subtropical forest with many species of evergreen leaves that need a high level of humidity. More than 50 species of endemic flora can be found in the island the most common being the laurisilva, beech and heather. With regards to the Fauna, there are over 150 autochthonous species such as the Laurel Pigeon, the owl, hoopoe, sparrowhawk and kestrel. It has been declared National Park in 1981, World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 and Special Protection Area for Birds and Site of Community Importance.

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