The city is the administrative capital of the Province of Brescia, one of the largest in Italy, with about 1,200,000 inhabitants. The ancient city of Brixia, Brescia has been an important regional centre since pre-Roman times and a number of Roman and medieval monuments are preserved, among the latter the prominent castle.
The city is at the centre of the third-largest Italian industrial area, concentrating on mechanical and automotive engineering and machine tools, as well as the Beretta arms firm. Its companies are typically small or medium-sized enterprises, often with family management. The financial sector is also a major employer, and the tourist trade benefits from the proximity of Lake Garda, Lake Iseo and the Alps.
The plan of the old town is rectangular, and the streets intersect at right angles, a peculiarity handed down from Roman times, though the area enclosed by the medieval walls is larger than that of the Roman town, which occupied the north-eastern quarter of the current "Centro storico" (the old town).
The Piazza del Foro (Forum Square) marks the site of the Roman-time forum: on the short north side, on the side of the Colle Cidneo (Cidneo Hill) dramatically stands a Corinthian temple with three cellae, that has been rediscovered starting in 1823. This temple complex, built on top of an earlier, smaller temple dating from Republican times, was probably the Capitolium of the city; it was erected by Vespasian in 73 AD (if the inscription really belongs to the building). During excavation, in 1826, a splendid bronze statue of a winged Victory was found within the Capitolium, apparently hidden already in late antiquity, probably to preserve it from one of the various sackings that the town had to endure in those times.
The Capitolium used to house the Brescia Roman museum, that has however been moved to the nearby Santa Giulia (St. Julia) complex, a former powerful nunnery, that during Lombard domination was headed by princess Anselperga, daughter of king Desiderius.
In the area are visible (although not open to the public) various other Roman vestiges. Among these, on the south side of Forum Square there are scanty remains of a building called the curia, but which may have been a basilica.
East of the Capitolium, and in antiquity attached to it, stands the imposing Roman theatre. Now only part of it is visible because of a palace that has been built in Renaissance times on the slopes of Cidneo Hill, that had in time slid down to cover the entire Capitolium-theatre area. It was again used for public performances in the early XX Century, but has now been long closed to the public.