Bologna was founded by the Etruscans in the 6th century BC as Felsina. In the 4th century BC the Boii, a Celtic tribe coming from Transalpine Gaul, conquered the city and the surrounding area, renaming it Bononia. After a couple of centuries (189 BC) the Romans took over. In 88 BC, the city became a municipium. After the fall of Rome, Bologna was successively sacked and occupied by Visigoths, Huns, Goths and Lombards
In the XI century, Bologna began to grow again as an independent commune and leading European University, which counted, among its students, such writers as Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarca. Wealth brought a building boom and every well-to-do family left its mark by erecting a tower (180 of them in all) of which 15 still stand today. In the XIII century period Bologna was one of the biggest centres in Europe.
Like most Italian cities of that age, Bologna was torn by internal struggles related to the Guelph and Ghibelline factions. The city started by siding with the Guelphs (who backed the papacy), going against the Ghibellines, but adopted neutrality in the 14th century.
In 1506 the Papal troops of Julius II besieged the city, which remained part of the Papal States until the arrival of Napoleon, at the end of the 18th century. In 1860 Bologna joined the newly formed Kingdom of Italy.
During heavy fighting in the last months of WWII, up to 40% of the city’s industrial buildings were destroyed. However, the historic town inside the walls survived and it has been lovingly and carefully preserved.