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Special stamp: Stamp commemorates city of Neuchâtel millennium

Swiss Post is issuing a special stamp to mark the 1000th anniversary of the city of Neuchâtel. The stamp, with a face value of CHF 1, features the magnificent "Maison des Halles" built in the marketplace in 1570 and bearing the coat of arms of the Count of Orléans-Longueville, who once ruled the city. Originally constructed as a market hall and prestigious storage facility for valuable and vulnerable goods, the building now houses a gourmet restaurant. In the foreground a market stall with a yellow and black striped canopy subtly replicates the colours of the city's coat of arms. The special stamp is Swiss Post's contribution to Neuchâtel's millennium celebrations, to be marked officially on 24 April. It is available from 24 February and valid from 3 March until further notice.

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Built in 1570, the Maison des Halles is a Neuchâtel landmark dating back to the times of the Orléans-Longueville dynasty which ruled the duchy of Neuchâtel from 1504 to 1707. Their coat of arms festooned with fleurs-de-lis still graces the outside of this symbolic and prestigious building, which now houses a gourmet restaurant.

Dynamic perspective, deliberate colour scheme

Graphic artist Dominique Rossier of Puidoux has positioned the Maison des Halles in the centre of the Swiss Post special stamp and juxtaposed it dynamically with the surrounding alleyways. The weekly markets held on the Place du Marché are rich in tradition and provide a meeting place for the city's residents. They are represented on the stamp by a single market stall situated in the foreground in front of the Hôtel du Marché. It has a yellow, black and white striped canopy replicating the colours of the city's coat of arms, a black eagle on a yellow background. Since the official city colours are actually green and red, however, these have been used for a second, smaller market stall at the back right.

Neuchâtel first mentioned in a deed of gift dated 1011

The city of Neuchâtel, originally known as Novum Castellum, was first mentioned in 1011. On 24 April that year Rudolph III, King of Burgundy, signed a deed of gift handing over to his wife Irmengarde various properties and castles, including the "royal residence of Neuchâtel, with all its servants and its auxiliary buildings". What was then still merely a fort is now a cantonal capital with 32,000 inhabitants. The Maison des Halles could once be accessed by boat. In the course of history, however, the rulers of the city reclaimed areas of land by diverting the Seyon River and building embankments, and the Maison des Halles is now surrounded by houses and alleyways.

The special stamp has a face value of CHF 1. It is available and can be ordered from www.swisspost.ch/philashop from 24 February. It is available from all post offices from 3 March 2011 and is valid until further notice.

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