Bavaria's third-largest city, Augsburg has long played a central role due to both its location and its religious history. It dates back to the Roman Empire, when in 15 BC a son of Augustus set up a military camp here on the banks of the Lech River. An important trading route, the Via Claudia Augusta, arose along the river connecting Italy to this silver-rich spot, and the settlement that grew up around it became known as Augusta, which is what Italians call the city to this day. The fashionable Maximilianstrasse lies on the Via Claudia Augusta, where the town's former wealth is still visible in its ornate architecture. City rights were granted Augsburg in 1156, and 200 years later, the Fugger family of bankers would become to Augsburg what the Medici were to Florence. Their wealth surpassed that of their Italian counterparts, though, such that they loaned funds to them from time to time. Their influence is felt throughout the city and several present-day members of the family run local charitable foundations.
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