Krakow - Blonia Park #1
Blonia Park is a vast meadow with an area of 48 hectares directly adjacent to the historic centre of the city of Krakow, Poland.
The history of the park began in 1162, when a wealthy nobleman Jaksa z Miechowa – founder of the Order of Bozogrobcy – donated the land between Zwierzyniec and Łobzow to Norbertanki Monastery. His intention was to receive a blessing prior to his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. For the next two centuries the meadow belonged to Norbertine Nuns, who in 1366 exchanged it with the city's authorities for a manor at Florianska Street. The meadow was used by peasants from neighboring villages to graze their cattle.
Until the nineteenth century Blonia Park was largely neglected, and often flooded by the Rudawa river in the spring turning it into wetland with small islands, probably contributing to the spread of epidemics. After draining the swamps, Błonia became perfectly suitable to host large gatherings. In 1809, when the city was incorporated into the Duchy of Warsaw, Blonia was a place of salute of the troops of Napoleon, organized by Prince Jozef Poniatowski and General Jan Henryk Dabrowski.
Today Blonia is a recreation area, frequently hosting large events like concerts and exhibitions. The place is best known for great Masses celebrated by the Pope John Paul II in 1979, 1983, 1987, 1997 and 2002. The Pope Benedict XVI also served the Mass there during his journey to Poland in May 2006. Furthermore, Blonia Park was the location of pop star Celine Dion's concert "Taking Chances" in June 2008. wikipedia
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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.