Moscow is the capital and most populous city of Russia, with 13.2 million residents within the city limits, 17 million within the urban area and 20 million within the metropolitan area. Moscow is one of Russia's federal cities. Moscow is the major political, economic and scientific center of Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as the largest city on the European continent. By broader definitions, Moscow is among the world's largest cities, being the 14th largest metro area, the 18th largest agglomeration, the 14th largest urban area, the 11th largest by population within city limits worldwide. According to Forbes 2013, Moscow has been ranked as the ninth most expensive city in the world by Mercer and has one of the world's largest urban economies, being ranked as an alpha global city according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. Moscow is the coldest megacity on Earth.
It is home to the Ostankino Tower, the tallest free standing structure in Europe. By its territorial expansion on July 1, 2012 southwest into the Moscow Oblast, the area of the capital more than doubled, going from 1,091 to 2,511 square kilometers, resulting in Moscow becoming the largest city on the European continent by area. Moscow is situated on the Moskva River in the Central Federal District of European Russia, making it Europe's most populated inland city; the city is well known for its architecture its historic buildings such as Saint Basil's Cathedral with its colorful architectural style. With over 40 percent of its territory covered by greenery, it is one of the greenest capitals and major cities in Europe and the world, having the largest forest in an urban area within its borders—more than any other major city—even before its expansion in 2012; the city has served as the capital of a progression of states, from the medieval Grand Duchy of Moscow and the subsequent Tsardom of Russia to the Russian Empire to the Soviet Union and the contemporary Russian Federation.
Moscow is a seat of power of the Government of Russia, being the site of the Moscow Kremlin, a medieval city-fortress, today the residence for work of the President of Russia. The Moscow Kremlin and Red Square are one of several World Heritage Sites in the city. Both chambers of the Russian parliament sit in the city. Moscow is considered the center of Russian culture, having served as the home of Russian artists and sports figures and because of the presence of museums and political institutions and theatres; the city is served by a transit network, which includes four international airports, nine railway terminals, numerous trams, a monorail system and one of the deepest underground rapid transit systems in the world, the Moscow Metro, the fourth-largest in the world and largest outside Asia in terms of passenger numbers, the busiest in Europe. It is recognized as one of the city's landmarks due to the rich architecture of its 200 stations. Moscow has acquired a number of epithets, most referring to its size and preeminent status within the nation: The Third Rome, the Whitestone One, the First Throne, the Forty Soroks.
Moscow is one of the twelve Hero Cities. The demonym for a Moscow resident is "москвич" for male or "москвичка" for female, rendered in English as Muscovite; the name "Moscow" is abbreviated "MSK". The name of the city is thought to be derived from the name of the Moskva River. There have been proposed several theories of the origin of the name of the river. Finno-Ugric Merya and Muroma people, who were among the several Early Eastern Slavic tribes which inhabited the area, called the river Mustajoki, it has been suggested. The most linguistically well grounded and accepted is from the Proto-Balto-Slavic root *mŭzg-/muzg- from the Proto-Indo-European *meu- "wet", so the name Moskva might signify a river at a wetland or a marsh, its cognates include Russian: музга, muzga "pool, puddle", Lithuanian: mazgoti and Latvian: mazgāt "to wash", Sanskrit: májjati "to drown", Latin: mergō "to dip, immerse". In many Slavic countries Moskov is a surname, most common in Bulgaria, Russia and North Macedonia. There exist as well similar place names in Poland like Mozgawa.
The original Old Russian form of the name is reconstructed as *Москы, *Mosky, hence it was one of a few Slavic ū-stem nouns. As with other nouns of that declension, it had been undergoing a morphological transformation at the early stage of the development of the language, as a result the first written mentions in the 12th century were Московь, Moskovĭ, Москви, Moskvi, Москвe/Москвѣ, Moskve/Moskvě. From the latter forms came the modern Russian name Москва, a result of morphological generalisation with the numerous Slavic ā-stem nouns. However, the form Moskovĭ has left some traces in many other languages, such as English: Moscow, German: Moskau, French: Moscou, Georgian: მოსკოვი, Latvian: Maskava, Ottoman Turkish: Moskov, Tatar: Мәскәү, Mäskäw, Kazakh: Мәскеу, Mäskew, Chuvash: Мускав, etc. In a similar manner the Latin name Moscovia has been formed it became a collo
The Moscow Metro is a rapid transit system serving Moscow and the neighbouring Moscow Oblast cities of Krasnogorsk, Reutov and Kotelniki. Opened in 1935 with one 11-kilometre line and 13 stations, it was the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union; as of 2018, the Moscow Metro excluding the Moscow Central Circle and Moscow Monorail has 224 stations and its route length is 381 km, making it the fifth longest in the world. The system is underground, with the deepest section 84 metres underground at the Park Pobedy station, one of the world's deepest. It's the busiest metro system in Europe, a tourist attraction in itself; the Moscow Metro, a state-owned enterprise, is 381 km long and consists of twelve lines and 223 stations organized in a spoke-hub distribution paradigm, with the majority of rail lines running radially from the centre of Moscow to the outlying areas. The Koltsevaya Line forms a 20-kilometre long circle which enables passenger travel between these diameters, the new Moscow Central Circle forms a 54-kilometre longer circle that serves a similar purpose on middle periphery.
Most stations and lines are underground. The Moscow Metro uses the Russian gauge of 1,520 millimetres, like other Russian railways, an underrunning third rail with a supply of 825 V DC, except line 13 and 14; the average distance between stations is 1.7 kilometres. Long distances between stations have the positive effect of a high cruising speed of 41.7 kilometres per hour. The Moscow Metro opens at 05:25 and closes at 01:00; the precise opening time varies at different stations according to the arrival of the first train, but all stations close their entrances at 01:00 for maintenance, so do transfer corridors. The minimum interval between trains is 90 seconds during the evening rush hours; as of 2017 the system had an average daily ridership of 6.99 million passengers. Peak daily ridership of 9.71 million was recorded on 26 December 2014. Free Wi-Fi has been available on all lines of the Moscow Metro since 1 December 2014; the network was launched by MaximaTelecom. Of the metro's 224 stations, 88 are deep underground, 123 are shallow, 12 are surface and five are elevated.
The deep stations comprise 55 triple-vaulted pylon stations, 19 triple-vaulted column stations, one single-vault station. The shallow stations comprise 79 spanned column stations, 33 single-vaulted stations, three single-spanned stations. In addition, there are 12 ground-level stations, four elevated stations, one station on a bridge. Two stations have three tracks, one has double halls. Seven of the stations have side platforms. In addition, there were two temporary stations within rail yards. One station is reserved for future service; the stations being constructed under Stalin's regime, in the style of socialist classicism, were meant as underground palaces of the people. Stations such as Komsomolskaya, Kiyevskaya or Mayakovskaya and others built after 1935 in the second phase of the evolution of the network are tourist landmarks, their photogenic architecture, large chandeliers and detailed decoration unusual for an urban transport system; each line is identified by an alphanumeric index and a colour.
The colour assigned to each line for display on maps and signs is its colloquial identifier, except for the nondescript greens and blues assigned to the Kakhovskaya, the Zamoskvoretskaya, the Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya, Butovskaya lines. The upcoming station is announced by a male voice on inbound trains to the city center and by a female voice on outbound trains; the metro has a connection to the Moscow Monorail, a 4.7-kilometre, six-station monorail line between Timiryazevskaya and VDNKh which opened in January 2008. Prior to the official opening, the monorail had operated in "excursion mode" since 2004. Sokolnicheskaya line was named Kirovsko-Fruzenskaya Zamoskvoretskaya line was named Gorkovsko-Zamoskvoretskaya. Filyovskaya line was named Arbatsko-Filyovskaya. Since the beginning, platforms have been at least 155 metres long to accommodate eight-car trains; the only exceptions are on the Filyovskaya Line: Vystavochnaya, Studencheskaya, Fili, Filyovsky Park and Pionerskaya, which only allows six-car trains.
Trains on the Zamoskvoretskaya, Kaluzhsko-Rizhskaya, Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya, Serpukhovsko-Timiryazevskaya and Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya lines have eight cars, on the Sokolnicheskaya line seven cars and on the Koltsevaya and Kakhovskaya lines six cars. The Filyovskaya and Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya lines had six- and seven-car trains as well, but now use four- and five-car trains of another type; the V-type trains were from Berlin U-Bahn C-class trains from 1945 to 1969, until its complete demi
Martiros Saryan was an Armenian painter, the founder of a modern Armenian national school of painting. He was born into an Armenian family in Nakhichevan-on-Don. In 1895, aged 15, he completed the Nakhichevan school and from 1897 to 1904 studied at the Moscow School of Arts, including in the workshops of Valentin Serov and Konstantin Korovin, he was influenced by the work of Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse. He exhibited his works in various shows, he had works shown at the Blue Rose Exhibit in Moscow. He first visited Armenia part of the Russian Empire, in 1901, visiting Lori, Echmiadzin, Sanahin and Sevan, he composed his first landscapes depicting Armenia: Makravank, 1902. Sevan, 1903. From 1910 to 1913 he traveled extensively in Turkey and Iran. In 1915 he went to Echmiadzin to help refugees who had fled from the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire. In 1916 he traveled to Tiflis, it was there. After the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917 he went with his family to live in Russia. In 1921 they moved to Armenia.
While most of his work reflected the Armenian landscape, he designed the coat of arms for Armenian SSR and designed the curtain for the first Armenian state theatre. From 1926–1928 he lived and worked in Paris, but most works from this period were destroyed in a fire on board the boat on which he returned to the Soviet Union. From 1928 until his death, Saryan lived in Soviet Armenia. In the difficult years of the 1930s, he devoted himself again to landscape painting, as well as portraits, he was chosen as a deputy to the USSR Supreme Soviet and was awarded the Order of Lenin three times and other awards and medals. He was Armenian Academy of Sciences. Saryan died in Yerevan on 5 May 1972, his former home in Yerevan is now a museum dedicated to his work with hundreds of items on display. He was buried in Yerevan at the Pantheon next to Komitas Vardapet, his son Ghazaros Saryan was a educator. His great-granddaughter Mariam Petrosyan is a painter, as well as cartoonist and award-winning novelist. Martiros Sarian House-Museum M. Saryan: Biography, Gallery M. Saryan in The Color of Armenian Land Saryan, Parajanov Martiros Saryan
The State Tretyakov Gallery is an art gallery in Moscow, the foremost depository of Russian fine art in the world. The gallery's history starts in 1856 when the Moscow merchant Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov acquired works by Russian artists of his day with the aim of creating a collection, which might grow into a museum of national art. In 1892, Tretyakov presented his famous collection of 2,000 works to the Russian nation; the façade of the gallery building was designed by the painter Viktor Vasnetsov in a peculiar Russian fairy-tale style. It was built in 1902–04 to the south from the Moscow Kremlin. During the 20th century, the gallery expanded to several neighboring buildings, including the 17th-century church of St. Nicholas in Tolmachi; the collection contains more than 130,000 exhibits, ranging from Theotokos of Vladimir and Andrei Rublev's Trinity to the monumental Composition VII by Wassily Kandinsky and the Black Square by Kazimir Malevich. In 1977 the Gallery kept a significant part of the George Costakis collection.
In May 2012, the Tretyakov Art Gallery played host to the prestigious FIDE World Chess Championship between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand as the organizers felt the event would promote both chess and art at the same time. Pavel Tretyakov started collecting art in the middle of 1850; the founding year of the Tretyakov Gallery is considered to be 1856, when Tretyakov purchased two paintings of Russian artists: Temptation by N. G. Schilder and Skirmish with Finnish Smugglers by V. G. Kudyakov, although earlier, in 1854–1855, he had bought 11 drawings and nine pictures by Dutch Old Masters. In 1867 the Moscow City Gallery of Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov was opened; the Gallery’s collection consisted of 1,276 paintings, 471 sculptures and 10 drawings by Russian artists, as well as 84 paintings by foreign masters. In August 1892 Tretyakov presented his art gallery to the city of Moscow as a gift. In the collection at this time, there were 1,287 paintings and 518 graphic works of the Russian school, 75 paintings and eight drawings of European schools, 15 sculptures and a collection of icons.
The official opening of the museum called the Moscow City Gallery of Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov took place on August 15, 1893. The gallery was located in a mansion that the Tretykov family had purchased in 1851; as the Tretyakov collection of art grew, the residential part of the mansion filled with art and it became necessary to make additions to the mansion in order to store and display the works of art. Additions were made in 1873, 1882, 1885, 1892 and 1902–1904, when there was the famous façade, designed in 1900–1903 by architect V. Bashkirov from the drawings of the artist Viktor Vasnetsov. Construction of the façade was managed by the architect A. M. Kalmykov. In early 1913, the Moscow City Duma elected Igor Grabar as a trustee of the Tretyakov Gallery. On June 3, 1918, the Tretyakov Gallery was declared owned by Russian Federated Soviet Republic and was named the State Tretyakov Gallery. Igor Grabar was again appointed director of the museum. With Grabar’s active participation in the same year, the State Museum Fund was created, which up until 1927 remained one of the most important sources of replenishment of the gallery's collection.
In 1926 architect and academician A. V. Shchusev became the director of the gallery. In the following year the gallery acquired the neighboring house on Maly Tolmachevsky Lane. After restructuring in 1928, it housed the gallery's administration, academic departments, manuscripts department, funds and graphics staffs. In 1985–1994, an administrative building was built from the design of architect A. L. Bernstein with two floors and height equal to that of the exposition halls. In 1928 serious renovations were made to the gallery to provide ventilation. In 1929 electricity was installed. In 1929 the church of St. Nicholas in Tolmachi was closed, in 1932 the building was given to the gallery and became a storage facility for paintings and sculptures; the church was connected to the exposition halls and a top floor was built, specially designed for exhibiting a painting by A. A. Ivanov,The Appearance of Christ to the People. A transition space was built between rooms located on either side of the main staircase.
This ensured the continuity of the view of exposure. The gallery began to develop a new concept of accommodating exhibits. In 1936, a new two floor building was constructed, located on the north side of the main building – it is known as the Schusevsky building; these halls were first used for exhibitions, since 1940 have been included in the main route of exposure. From the first days of the Great War, the gallery's personnel began dismantling the exhibition, as well as those of other museums in Moscow, in preparation for evacuating during wartime. Paintings were rolled on wooden shafts, covered with tissue paper, placed in boxes, sheathed with waterproof material. In the middle of the summer of 1941 a train of 17 wagons traveled from Moscow and brought the collection to Novosibirsk; the gallery was not reopened in Moscow until May 1945, upon the conclusion of the Great War. In 1956, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Tretyakov Gallery, the Alexander Ivanov Hall was completed. From 1980 to 1992, the director of the Tretyakov Gallery was Y. K. Korolev.
Because of the increased number of visitors, Korolev was engaged in expanding the area of exposition. In 1983, construction work began to expand the gallery. In 1985 the Depository, a repository of works of art and restoration workshops, was commis
Sergey Timofeyevich Konenkov was a famous Russian and Soviet sculptor. He was called "the Russian Rodin". Konenkov was born in a village of Karakovichi in Smolensk province. Sergey studied at the Moscow School of Painting and Architecture, graduating in 1897, at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, his diploma work at the Academy - a huge clay statue of Samson tearing the chains - broke most existing laws of academic art and put him at odds with his teachers, who destroyed the work with hammers. He travelled to Italy, Egypt and Germany. During the Russian revolution of 1905 Konenkov was with the workers on the barricades, soon after creating portraits of the heroes of the rebellion in Moscow. Konenkov supported the Russian Revolution of 1917. In 1922 Konenkov married Margarita Ivanovna Vorontsova, in 1923 they travelled to the United States to take part in an exhibition of Russian and Soviet art; the trip was supposed to last for a few months, but Konenkov stayed in the States for 22 years and working in New York City.
In 1928–1929 the sculptor visited Italy to meet and work on a portrait of the Soviet writer Maksim Gorky. He had a personal exhibition in Rome. During the American period, Konenkov created a large body of work focusing on Bible themes, notably the Apocalypse, he produced works depicting the Christian prophets and apostles. In 1935 he was commissioned by the Princeton University to do a sculpture of Albert Einstein, it is said that Einstein was interested in the work of the Russian sculptor, but was more focused on his wife, Margarita Konenkova. Einstein and Margarita, acquainted with the physicist Robert Oppenheimer had a love affair, judging by the "nine of the great scientist's genuine love letters, written in 1945 and 1946." There have been allegations that Margarita was working in those years for the Soviet Government, but no concrete evidence has been provided to support the theory. Under direct orders from Joseph Stalin in 1945, a ship was sent to New York to bring Konenkov back to the USSR.
The sculptor was given a large studio on Gorky street in the centre of Moscow. He "had found favor enough with the regime to be asked to design a plaque commemorating the first anniversary of the October Revolution on the Senate Tower of the Kremlin."Konenkov created sculptures of Aleksandr Pushkin, Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ivan Turgenev, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Vasily Surikov, Johann Bach, Paganini, to name a few. He made wood carved crosses and other pieces for the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent in Moscow. Konenkov received numerous Soviet awards, including the golden star of the Hero of Socialist Labour, the order of Lenin and the title Peoples artist of the USSR, he is buried in Moscow’s Novodevichy Convent. A street in the Northeastern District of Moscow is named after Konenkov. List of Russian artists The Uncommon Vision of Sergei Konenkov, 1874-1971: A Russian Sculptor and His Times. Marie Turbow Lampard, John E. Bowlt. Rutgers University Press.. New York Times - How the F.
B. I. tracked the calls of Einstein Letters suggest Einstein affair with spy Konenkov's Grandson Arrested For Arson Konenkov's grave
Vologda is a city and the administrative and scientific center of Vologda Oblast, located on the Vologda River within the watershed of the Northern Dvina. Population: 301,755 ; the city serves as a major transport hub of the Northwest of Russia. The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation has classified Vologda as an historic city, one of forty-one in Russia and one of only three in Vologda Oblast. 224 buildings in Vologda have been recognized as cultural heritage monuments. Two conflicting theories exist as to the date of Vologda's foundation; the year 1147 is the official date first fixed in 1780 by Alexey Zasetsky in his book "Stories about miracles of Gerasimus of Vologda". The story mentions; the date of the foundation of the monastery is taken as the date of the foundation of the city of Vologda and is mentioned in official city documents. This date, which would make Vologda to be of the same age as Moscow, is, not supported by any scientific data and is considered by authoritative sources to be fictional.
The story was only written in 1666 by a certain Foma, who got a request from Archbishop Markel to produce the vita of Gerasimus. Foma himself admitted; the story contains many contradicting details. Besides, the monastic life in the Russian north was not known in the 12th century: the first monastery in Vladimir was founded in 1152, in Rostov in 1212, in the Belozersk area in 1251. Archeological excavations do not confirm this date either. Instead, they demonstrate; the year 1264 was the first mention of Vologda when it was included in the list of possessions of the Novgorod Republic in the agreement between the Republic and the Grand Prince of Vladimir. This date is supported by archaeological data; the nucleus of Vologda in the 13th century was not located in the area, now the city center, but rather the area known now as "Lazy ground", close to the Resurrection church. This area was the center of Vologda up to 1565; until that year, no stone constructions existed in Vologda: all of the city fortifications, houses and industrial enterprises were made of wood.
The unique position of Vologda on important waterways connecting Moscow and the White Sea made it attractive for the Novgorod Republic, as well as for the princes of Tver and Moscow, who fought numerous wars between the 13th and the 15th centuries. In 1371, Dmitry Prilutsky, a monk from the Nikolsky Monastery in Pereslavl-Zalessky, founded Nikolsky Monastery, now known as Spaso-Prilutsky Monastery, close to the city. Dmitry Donskoy, the Grand Prince of Moscow, was the chief benefactor of the monastery and viewed it as a stronghold of the influence of the Grand Duchy of Moscow in the Northern lands in competition with Novgorod. In 1397, during the reign of Vasily I, Vologda was added to the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Subsequently, the city was several times attacked by Novgorod forces. During the Muscovite Civil War, Vologda played a key role. After Vasily II the Blind, the Grand Prince of Moscow, was defeated by Dmitry Shemyaka in 1447, he swore to never start a war against Shemyaka, was exiled to Vologda, got the city as a personal possession.
From there Vasily traveled to the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery where the hegumen released him from the oath. The civil war continued, in 1450, Vologda was besieged by the troops of Dmitry Shemyaka. After the death of Vasily in 1462, Vologda passed to the possession of his son Andrey Menshoy and became the center of the Principality of Vologda. In 1481, after the death of Andrey who had no successors, Vologda passed to Ivan III, the Grand Duke of Moscow, was included to the Grand Duchy of Moscow. During the reign of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, Vologda became one of the major transit centers of Russia's trade; the foreign trade was conducted with England and other western countries via the White Sea. Arkhangelsk was the major foreign trade haven, Vologda stood on the waterway connecting Moscow with Arkhangelsk; the trade with Siberia was conducted via the Sukhona and the Vychegda Rivers, Vologda played an important role as a transit center. The state courtyard was built in the city on the bank of the Vologda River.
In 1553, Vologda was visited by the English seafarer Richard Chancellor who established diplomatic relations between the Tsardom of Russia and England. In 1554, trading agent John Gass described Vologda to English merchants as a city with an abundance of bread where the goods were twice as cheap as in Moscow and Novgorod, that there was no city in Russia that would not trade with Vologda. Following the reports of John Gass, in 1555 England opened a trading office in the city, the first Russian ambassador sent to England for negotiations became Osip Nepeya, a native of Vologda. In 1565, Ivan the Terrible introduced the policy of Oprichnina and included Vologda into the structure of Oprichnina lands; that year, he visited the city for the first time and decided to make it the center of Oprichnina and the capital of the country. The Tsar ordered to build a new fortress, it was decided to build it not in the former town center, but rather in another part of the town, limited on the one side by the river, on the other side by what are now Leningradskaya and Mira Streets.
The fortress was surrounded by a moat. Ivan the Terrible traveled to Vologda in person to supervise the foundation of the fortress on April 28, 1566, the day to cel
Italy the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Austria and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 and has a temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe. Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient peoples dispersed throughout modern-day Italy, the most famous of which being the Indo-European Italics who gave the peninsula its name, beginning from the classical era and Carthaginians founded colonies in insular Italy and Genoa, Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Graecia, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively; the Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People.
The Roman Republic conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the peninsula, in some cases through the establishment of federations, the Republic expanded and conquered parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural and religious centre of Western civilisation, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's technology, economy and literature flourished. Italy remained the metropole of the Roman Empire; the legacy of the Roman Empire endured its fall and can be observed in the global distribution of culture, governments and the Latin script. During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through shipping and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism.
These independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars and polymaths such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Machiavelli. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Italy's commercial and political power waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left the region fragmented, it was subsequently conquered and further divided by European powers such as France and Austria.
By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was entirely unified in 1871, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy industrialised, namely in the north, acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading to the rise of a fascist dictatorship in 1922. Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil became a developed country.
Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically advanced countries, with the sixth-largest worldwide national wealth. Its advanced economy ranks eighth-largest in the world and third in the Eurozone by nominal GDP. Italy owns the third-largest central bank gold reserve, it has a high level of human development, it stands among the top countries for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military and diplomatic affairs. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more; as a reflection