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The city lies on the River Arno; it is known for its history and its importance in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, especially for its art and architecture and, more generally, for its cultural heritage. A centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time, Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance; it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. A turbulent political history included periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, religious and republican revolution. From 1865 to 1870 the city was also 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 72nd most visited in 2009, with 1.685 million visitors. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Due to Florence's artistic and architectural heritage, it has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and the city is noted for its history, culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments. The city also contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Pitti Palace, amongst others, and still exerts an influence in the fields of art, culture and politics. Florence is also an important city in Italian fashion, as well as a major national economic centre, being a tourist and industrial hub.