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The town is located on the ridge of a hill (485 m.) separating the Metauro Valley from the Foglia. It was founded by the Romans (Urbinum Metaurense) and later dominated by the Byzantines and Lombards until the Franks gave it to the Papal States; together with the other Penthapolis towns (774). However for centuries the power of the Church was nominal and the town was often an ally of the Emperors. From 1155 to 1508, its history was that of the Montefeltro overlords; later it was ruled by the Della Roveres until 1631, when it finally became part of the Papal States, it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.

The urban layout of Urbino is particularly interesting; the town is surrounded by a circle of ramparts built for Duke Francesco Maria I in 1507. Although not always of artistic interest, the palatial buildings in the old centre date back to the 15th-16th centuries and give the town an architecturally homogeneous character, not easily found in larger towns. An outstanding monument is the Palazzo Ducale, seat of the Montefeltro family, an important example of Renaissance architecture; the buildings surround a beautiful courtyard, and the famous fašade, with its twin towers, is the symbol of the town. Other remarkable monuments are the Oratorio di San Giovanni Battista (14th century, with outstanding frescoes), the Oratorio di San Giuseppe (16th century, with a coeval stucco crib), Church of San Francesco (14th century, Romanesque-Gothic with later additions), the House of Raffaello (15th century), the Gothic Church of St. Domini (14th century).

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