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Milan, the capital of the region of Lombardy, is the biggest industrial city of Italy with many different industrial sectors. It is a magnetic point for designers, artists, photographers and models. Milan has an ancient city center with high and interesting buildings and palazzos, which is why so many people from all over the world want to see the city of glamour.
Milan’s origin goes back to 400 B.C., when Gauls settled and defeated the Etruscans. In 222 B.C. the city was conquered by Romans and was annexed to the Roman Empire. After several centuries of Roman control, Milan became the capital of the Western Roman Empire in 293 A.D.

In the Edict of Milan of 313 A.D., Emperor Constantine I guaranteed freedom of religion for Christians.  As a result, many churches were built and the first bishop, Ambrogio, was appointed. Ambrogio, later to become Saint Ambrose, had strong influence on the layout of the city, redesigning the center and building the great basilicas at the city gates.  These basilicas still stand, refurbished over the centuries, as some of the finest and most important churches in Milan.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Visconti family ruled and brought a period of glory and wealth to the city. The Milan Cathedral, built between 1386 and 1577, is the largest and most important example of Gothic architecture in Italy, and the fourth largest cathedral in the world. It hosts the world's largest collection of marble statues with the widely visible golden Madonna statue on the top of the spire, nicknamed Madunina (the little Madonna), and has become the symbol of Milan.
The Sforza family assumed power from the Visconti family in 1450, and finally Milan achieved peace after many years of war against Venice and Florence. Under the Sforza duchy the city began the development of sciences, art and literature, making Milan one of the leading cities of the Italian Renaissance. Ludovico il Moro (Ludovico Sforza) was famed as a patron of Leonardo da Vinci and “il Bramante," and is best known as the man who commissioned da Vinci's "The Last Supper."

Milan has played a role in many periods throughout history, but most recently has become synonymous with high fashion.  In the 1980's, Milan became a major exporter of textiles, and several fashion houses headquartered in the city became internationally renowned (such as Armani, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana).  The traditionally affordable and practical, yet stylish and chic attire produced by the city's stylists made it a serious global competitor, threatening Paris' century-long status as the world capital of haute couture.

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