With 240 000 inhabitants Halle(Saale) belongs to the bigger cities in Central Germany and is the biggest city of the federal state Saxony-Anhalt. Founded in the 8th century, the city quickly became an important city of the Middle Ages due to its natural salt deposits, which appear as sole, and its favourable location on the river Saale. For this reason, the city was protected by the two castles Giebichtenstein and Moritzburg, which still significantly shape the cityscape today. The university was founded in 1502, which still makes Halle a university town nowadays, and at more than 500 years old, Martin Luther University is one of the oldest universities in Central Europe. During the baroque period, Halle became famous above all through Georg Friedrich Händel, who was born in the city. The Händel statue on the market place, as well as the Händel-museum, which shows the birthplace of the famous composer, ensure that Halle bears the title "Händelstadt" (City of Händel). The city upholds this title as a centre for art and culture until today. While the already mentioned Moritzburg is an important museum for contemporary art, Burg Giebichenstein is one of the most famous and influential art academies in Germany. The national academy of sciences Leopoldina, founded in 1652, is located in Halle. The city is also home of the Franckesche Foundations, which were founded in the late 17th century and uniquely combine pedagogical, scientific, social and cultural facilities. Halle's cityscape is architecturally diverse and characterized by buildings from different eras and different architectural styles. While the economic development of the city in was focused on chemicals and mechanical engineering, since 1990 the innovation and technology sector has become increasingly important. Today more than 100 companies are located in the immediate vicinity of the university, which are mainly active in the fields of biotechnology, nanotechnology or life sciences. The Weinberg Technology Park in the north of the city is one of the largest science locations in Germany. A large number of scientific institutions such as Helmholtz, Fraunhofer, Leibnitz and Max-Plank are established there.