Fortress commonly known as 'Fortica' (from the Italian, fortezza=fortification), also called 'Španjola', was a central fortification of city Hvar in the past centuries. Its beginnings date back to the time of the Illyrians and the Byzantine Empire. Construction of the present-day fortification began in 1278, when Hvar came under the Venetian rule. It was built slowly, over many years, undergoing many adaptations. It is recorded that Spanish military engineers took part in building works during 14th century, which perhaps explains why the fortress was also referred to as 'Španjola'. By the middle of 16th century, the fortress was largely completed. On August 19th 1571, the fortification saved the lives of nearly all the local people, who managed to find shelter iside its walls, when the Turks attacked the town, plundered it and burned it to the ground. Unfortunately, several years later, on 1st October 1579 at 3.30 am, a thunderbolt struck gunpowder store, causing devastating explosion and major damage to the fortress and the parts of the town below it. In the following centuries the fortress underwent repairs and adaptations. In second half of the 19th century, when city of Hvar lost its strategic importance, fortification was abandoned. In 1971 fortress was restored and adapted into an tourist facility.
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.