The Roman Catholic Basilica of Our Lady is a Romanesque basilica in Maastricht, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. The church is often referred to as the Star of the Sea, after the church's main devotion, Our Lady, Star of the Sea. The present church is largely Romanesque. Blocks of stone from the ancient Roman walls were re-used for the westwork which dates from shortly after 1000 AD. Most of the church was built in the course of the 12th century, including the late 12th century East choir with its two- storey ambulatory with richly decorated capitals. The architectural sculpture in the interior of the Basilica of Our Lady belongs to the highlights of Mosan art. The 20 highly symbolic capitals in the choir ambulatory depict various kinds of animals, monsters, birds, naked or scarcely-dressed humans entangled in foliage, and humans fighting with animals. Near the center of the ambulatory there are a number of biblical scenes. One capital in particular is famous as it was signed Heimo, probably by its maker, who may also be represented on it, handing over a capital to the virgin Mary. The carved capitals and corbels of the choir gallery, as well as the capitals in the nave, depict mainly foliage and some human and animal figures. Most of the capitals, as well as some important reliefs elsewhere in the church, date from the second half of the 12th century.
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.