Lucca has Etruscan origins, although the most significant evidences date back to Roman times, such as the amphitheater (now transformed into a square that has retained the characteristic elliptical shape), the Forum (that was located in the to-day’s San Michele square) and the streets of the oldest part of the town, which have preserved the orthogonality of the Roman origin. In 1162 Lucca was recognized free city. In medieval times the city's importance was strengthened both for its fine textile production (which was the main reason for the emergence of Lucca in European markets) and because it was along the ancient Via Francigena, one of the most important roads during the Middle Ages, as the pilgrims passed through it en route to Rome. Lucca was an important step along this path even for the presence of the Holy Face, a highly venerated relic representing the crucified Christ, that is still preserved in the Cathedral of the city. Nowadays Lucca is one of the most important cities of Italy. It is famous for its intact city walls, that were turned into a pleasant pedestrian promenade in the second half of the nineteenth century. The oldest part of the town has remained virtually unaltered in its original aspect: it contains many works of art of considerable merit, such as the numerous medieval churches (Lucca is nicknamed the "City of the a Hundred Churches" because of the many religious buildings within the urban fabric), steeples, towers and Renaissance palaces.