Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area.
Florence is famous for its history: a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time, it is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages". A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 - 71 the city was the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy.
The Historic Centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year, and Euromonitor International ranked the city as the world's 89th most visited in 2012, with 1.8m visitors. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. The city is noted for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments. The city also contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, and still exerts an influence in the fields of art, culture and politics.
Due to Florence's artistic and architectural heritage, it has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Florence is an important city in Italian fashion, being ranked in the top 50 fashion capitals of the world; furthermore, it is a major national economic centre, as a tourist and industrial hub. In 2008, the city had the 17th highest average income in Italy.
Florence is known as the "cradle of the Renaissance" (la culla del Rinascimento) for its monuments, churches and buildings. The best-known site of Florence is the domed cathedral of the city, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as The Duomo, whose dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi. The nearby Campanile (partly designed by Giotto) and the Baptistery buildings are also highlights. The dome, 600 years after its completion, is still the largest dome built in brick and mortar in the world.
In 1982, the historic centre of Florence (Italian: centro storico di Firenze) was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. The centre of the city is contained in medieval walls that were built in the 14th century to defend the city. At the heart of the city, in Piazza della Signoria, is Bartolomeo Ammanati's Fountain of Neptune (1563 - 1565), which is a masterpiece of marble sculpture at the terminus of a still-functioning Roman aqueduct.