Brescia (; Lombard: Brèsa or ; ) is a city and comune in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy. It is situated at the foot of the Alps, between the Mella and the Naviglio, with a population of around 197,000. It is the second largest city in Lombardy, after the capital, Milan.
The city is the administrative capital of the Province of Brescia, one of the largest in Italy, with about 1,200,000 inhabitants. The ancient city of Brixia, Brescia has been an important regional centre since pre-Roman times. A number of Roman and medieval monuments are preserved, among the latter the prominent castle. The city is at the centre of the third-largest Italian industrial area, concentrating on mechanical and automotive engineering and machine tools, as well as Beretta and Fabarm firearm manufacturers. Its companies are typically small or medium-sized enterprises, often with family management. The financial sector is also a major employer, and the tourist trade benefits from the proximity of Lake Garda, Lake Iseo and the Alps. With 195,375 arrivals, Brescia is the fourth most visited city in Lombardy after Milan, Bergamo and Como.
The plan of the old town is rectangular, and the streets intersect at right angles, a peculiarity handed down from Roman times. The area enclosed by the medieval walls is larger than that of the Roman town, which occupied the north-eastern quarter of the current "Centro storico" (the old town).
The Piazza del Foro (Forum Square) marks the site of the Roman-time forum: on the short north side, on the side of the Colle Cidneo (Cidneo Hill), stands a Corinthian temple with three cellae, which was rediscovered starting in 1823. This temple complex, built on top of an earlier, smaller temple dating from Republican times, was probably the Capitolium of the city; it was erected by Vespasian in 73 AD (if the inscription belongs to the building). During excavation in 1826, a splendid bronze statue of a winged Victory was found within the Capitolium. It was likely hidden in late antiquity to preserve it from one of the various sackings that the town had to endure in those times.
The Capitolium had been used to house the Brescia Roman museum. This has been relocated to the nearby Santa Giulia (St Julia) complex, a former powerful nunnery. During the period of Lombard domination, the convent was headed by Princess Anselperga, daughter of King Desiderius.
In the area various other Roman remains are visible, although not open to the public. Among these, on the south side of Forum Square, are scanty remains of a building called the curia, which may have been a basilica.
East of the Capitolium, and in antiquity attached to it, stands the imposing Roman theatre. Now only part of it is visible because of a palace built in Renaissance times on the slopes of Cidneo Hill. In time it slid down to cover the entire Capitolium-theatre area. The theatre was renovated and used for public performances in the early 20th century, but it has now long been closed to the public.
The monumental archaeological area of the Roman Forum and the monastery complex of San Salvatore-Santa Giulia have become a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of a group of seven inscribed as Longobards in Italy. Places of the power (568-774 A.D.).