Modena (môˈdānä) [key], city (1991 pop. 176,990), capital of Modena prov., Emilia-Romagna, N central Italy, on the Panaro River. It is an agricultural, commercial, and major industrial center. Manufactures include motor vehicles, cast-iron, machine tools, and leather. An Etruscan settlement, the city was the site of a Roman colony called Mutina, founded in the early 2d cent. B.C. and located on the Aemilian Way. Modena became a free commune in the 12th cent. and in 1288 permanently passed to the Este family of Ferrara. The duchy of Modena, established in 1452, became the seat of the Este family after it lost (1598) Ferrara. From the fall of Napoleon I in 1814 until 1859 the house of Austria-Este ruled harshly. Among the city's notable structures are the cathedral (12th cent.), which has a massive white marble campanile (289 ft/88 m high) called the Ghirlandina; the Palazzo dei Musei (1753–67), which contains several art collections and the Este library; and the ducal palace (17th cent.). The nearby Nonantola abbey (founded 752) was a center of learning in the Middle Ages. Modena has a university.
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