St. Michael the Archangel Church, Kaunas
Construction of "military" or "garrison" Orthodox churches in former partitioned Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth lands, started after the putting down of the January Uprising of 1831 and peaked during the reign of Alexander II.
Initially the site of the future Kaunas St. Michael the Archangel Church was intended to be used for a Catholic church, however these plans were abandoned due to the Uprising.
Kaunas Cathedral stood out among similar military churches due to its size (it was designed to fit 2,000 worshipers) and unusual architecture employing triple Corinthian columns in an otherwise typical Neo-Byzantine five-dome design.
In total the exterior has 266 large and small columns and pilasters. This eclectic spin-off of mainstream Byzantine architecture (the so-called Roman Byzantine style) was hailed by contemporary architectural magazines but never gained popularity.
As built, the Cathedral reached 50 meters height; it was finished in three shades of sandstone color with equal-armed cross ornament. For the interior the structure relied on four load-bearing pylons designed to appear slimmer and lighter than in reality. The space between external and internal shells of the main dome was filled with hollow clay resonators. Cut from granite, floor tesseras were bought from abroad. In the dome above the main altar there were two Archangels – evangelists. The main altar's stained glass portrayed God's entrance to heaven. Smaller domes there used for the bells, one of them was founded in 1681. Just inside the church and to the right is the entrance to the catacombs, that are available to the public.
Kaunas Days 2010 in Independence Square.
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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.