Populated since the Neolithic period, Trento’s name comes from ‘Tridentum’, which means “three hills that surround the city”, and was given by the ancient Romans who conquered the city in the late first century after a bloody battle with Rhaetian tribes.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Trento was ruled by Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Lombards and Franks until it became part of the Holy Roman Empire. It was then in the hands of numerous Prince-Bishops for over eight centuries. During this period, several attempts at subversion were made by the people; for example, in 1407 a revolt was led by Rodolfo Belenzani to regain independence.
In the 16th century, the city became internationally known for the Council of Trent (1545-1563), which gave rise to Counter-Reformation. Under the rule by Bernardo Clesio and then by various members of the Madruzzo family, the city acquired its noble and Renaissance appearance. Various attempts of Venice expansion were defeated with success and courage. In 1796, Napoleon entered the city with his troops. In 1815, Trento became part of Austrian territory after the Congress of Vienna. At the end of the 19th century, Trento and Trieste, still under Austrian rule, became icons of the Italian irredentist movement, thanks to heroes such as Damiano Chiesa and Cesare Battisti. In 1918, Austrian rule over Trento ended and the city became part of the kingdom of Italy. Shortly thereafter, and after Mussolini was deposed, German troops invaded northern Italy and Trento became part of the Third Reich and was, consequently, hit by Allied bombings which damaged the church of Santa Maria Maggiore and several bridges over the Adige river.
Since the proclamation of the Italian Republic in 1946, the region has enjoyed prosperous growth, due in part to its special autonomy from the central Italian government.