The Lietava Castle (Slovak: Lietavský hrad, older names Litova, Letava, Lethowa) is an extensive castle ruin in northern Slovakia, between the villages of Lietava and Lietavská Svinná-Babkov in the Žilina District.
The castle was built after 1241, most likely as an administrative and military centre. In the early 14th century, it is mentioned with Matthew Csák. The castle changed hands until the 16th century when the Thurzo family gained it. It was reconstructed and fortified, and given its own military garrison. After the death of Imrich Thurzo in 1621, it was divided between his heirs. After the ownership disputes in 1641, they lost interest in it. The castle report in 1698 said that the castle was uninhabited and there was only an archive, which was moved to the Orava Castle in the 1760s. After that, the castle was abandoned and not used any more.
Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.
The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.
Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".
Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.
Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights.
In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states.
Text by Steve Smith.