Teatralnyi maidan (Theatre square)
Lutsk is both the centre of the region and its capital. Totally destroyed and burnt twice (in 1240 and 1500), in 1249 European monarchs began to gather there and it “settled” on European maps as Luchesk the Great. Having attracted numerous Catholic orders – the Dominicans, the Jesuits, the Sharits, the Brigids, the Carmelites, the city acquired the moniker “Little Rome of the East”. Its unique attraction is “underground Lutsk”, where approximately four floors below ground an “entire city under the city” several kilometres long is located. In the centre of the modern city Saint Trinity Cathedral (1752-1755), once property of the Catholic Bernandines monastery, stands proudly. From here Lesi Ukrainky Street with its numerous old houses, shops, coffee-houses and “Krainia Khata” (authentic art gallery) leads you to the “Stare Misto” (Old City) Historic and Cultural Reserve.
III parade of brides in Lutsk
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.