Rundale Palace is a true treasury of Baroque and Rococo art in Latvia. The palace with an adjacent French Regular park were designed by a famous Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli in the 18th century as a summer residence of the Duke of Courland Ernst Johann Biron, the favorite of the Russian Empress Anna Ioanovna.
In the course of time and political rush the palace has changed many owners, had once even hosted an elementary school until finally reached a quite “harbour” when Rundale Palace Museum was founded here in 1972. Some 30 years later the palace, restored from misery, has become a refined bridge to the grandeur and splendour of the quaint epoch…
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.