ruins of 'Akkerman' fortress in Belgorod-Dnestrovskiy
Akkerman fortress of Belgorod-Dnestrovskiy is one of Ukraine's biggest strongholds. Built on the place of ancient city Tira, main material is limestone. Is surrounded by moat having 14 m in width and 20 m initial depth. The fortress has form of irregular polygon in plan, and has area slightly over 9 hectares. Its walls spread over 2.5 km, the height of towers and walls is from 5 to 15 meters, and thickness 1.5 - 5 m. The stronghold initially had 34 towers, 26 of them are extant. 12 of them are hollow and were used as living spaces intended for defence and as grain storages.
The fortress is supposed to be built in the end of the XIV century, moldavian period in Belgorod-Dnestrovskiy history. At that times the stronghold was part of system of fortifications that protected the ways inside the Moldavian principality. In XV century the fortress is rebuilt and strenghtened, getting its final look after turkish reconstructions in XVI-XVIII centuries.
The citadel having over 300 m² in square is situated in the center of the fortress and is probably built by the Genovese in the end of XII century. The citadel has 4 strongest towers which have 5m thick walls and initially were up to 20 meters high. Citadel was the billeting place of the fortress governor, there also were governor's headquarters, powder magazine, city treasury and governor's guards. The citadel was unassailable.
In 1484 the Turkey captured the fortress after several abortive attempts. After that, the fortress was annexed by Ottoman empire and renamed as Akkerman (the White Fortress). The Russian forces captured the city and the fortress several times, in 1770, 1179 and 1806, but the city was annexed by Russia only in 1812 according to Bucharest peace treaty. In 1832 the fortress lost its sense as defensive installation, in 1896 it gained the status of architectural monument.
Near the fortress one can see the remains of ancient city Tira (founded in VI century BC by people that came from Milet)
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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.