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Perugia was an important Etruscan center and later a Roman city under the name Augusta Perusia. In the 11th century, it was a free Commune and often at war with Assisi and Gubbio. In the second half of the 15th century, the Baglioni family took on a leading role in the town’s political and cultural life; later, Perugia became part of the Papal States under Pope Paul III, who had the Rocca Paolina built by Antonio da Sangallo as a symbol of the Church’s power. In 1859, the people of Perugia rose up against the Papal States, but Pope Pius IX sent his troops in to pillage the city. On September 14, 1860 Perugia was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy; on this occasion its people set to destroy the Rocca Paolina and only what can still be admired today was left standing. Some of the town’s most important buildings overlook the Piazza IV Novembre: the Palazzo dei Priori, an elegant Gothic building with beautiful 12th century mullioned windows and a flight of steps leading from the square into the Sala dei Notari (1582) with its transverse arches and frescoes from the last decade of the 13th century; the Cathedral di San Lorenzo, unfinished, whose original core dates back to 969, while construction work on the current building was started in 1345 and completed in 1490; and the magnificent 13th-century Fontana Maggiore designed by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano. The Collegio del Cambio (Moneychangers' Guild) stands next to the Palazzo dei Priori and houses inlaid wooden benches by G. Zuccari (1615-1621) and rich wooden furnishings by Domenico del Tasso (1492-1493); wonderful frescoes by Perugino (1498-1500) decorate the walls and the vaulted ceiling. The city has two circuits of walls: the Etruscan walls of the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. and the medieval walls; the Etruscan Arch, called also the Arch of Augustus, is the best-preserved and most monumental of all the city’s Etruscan gates and dates back to the second half of the 3rd century B.C.. The many churches in the historic center include: the Abbey of San Pietro, built around 996, with a monumental façade with three arcades, dating to 1614, and a remarkable cloister; the Basilica of San Domenico, founded in 1304 and renovated by Maderno in the 17th century, is the largest religious building in Umbria; the Church of San Michele Arcangelo (temple of Sant’Angelo), an early Christian church dating back to the 5th century with a circular plan and inside a marble colonnade and Corinthian capitals from the Roman; the Church of Sant’Ercolano built in the early 14th century along the Etruscan walls; Sant’Agostino, built in the 13th century, but remodeled over the centuries, is decorated with a number prized frescoes; Santa Maria di Monteluce has a beautiful 15th century façade; the Church of San Francesco al Prato, built in the first half of the 13th century. The National Gallery of Umbria, the most comprehensive art gallery in the region, houses masterpieces like the Polyptych of St. Dominic by Beato Angelico and the Polyptych of St. Anthony by Piero della Francesca. The National Archeological Museum of Umbria holds Umbrian, Etruscan and Roman exhibits found throughout the Perugia territory, among which the Cippus of Perugia, one of the longest inscriptions in the Etruscan language to have reached our times.

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