Kibble Palace is a collection of 19th century wrought iron framed conservatories, designed by architect John Kibble in the 1860's.
The building was originally sited at Cove near Loch Long before being dismantled and transported to it's current location where it was re-assembled in 1871. The main structure is of curved wrought iron and glass supported by cast iron beams resting on ornate columns.
It was initially used as an exhibition and concert venue but many complaints about "rowdy" behaviour saw these events banned and the last use as a public events venue was in 1879 when William Gladstone was installed as rector of Glasgow University.
From 1880 The Royal Botanical Institute of Glasgow has used the "Palace" for the cultivation of temperate plants. The main plant group is a collection of Australian tree ferns, some of which have lived here for 120 years.
2004 saw the Kibble Palace dismantled for the second time and a £7 million restoration programme was initiated to repair corrosion of the ironwork. It re-opened to the public in November 2006.
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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.