Built around a castle (13th–16th cent.), it rose to importance in the 13th cent. and later became the second city of the kingdom of Naples. However, the city's influence declined during the wars of the 16th cent. Despite several devastating earthquakes and destructive air raids during World War II, L'Aquila has retained its medieval fortifications and a number of impressive old buildings, including St. Bernardino's Basilica (15th–16th cent.). The city again suffered significant widespread damage during an Apr., 2009, earthquake. There is a university in the city.
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