Linz was a fortified Celtic village by the time the Romans arrived, who took over and named it Lentia. By the 8th century, when the town came under Bavaria’s thumb, its name had changed to Linze, and by the 13th century it had mushroomed into an important trading town for raw material out of Styria. In 1489, Linz became the imperial capital under Friedrich III until his death in 1493.
Like much of Upper Austria, Linz was at the forefront of the Protestant movement in the 16th and 17th centuries. However, the Counter-Reformation made a spectacular comeback, knocking the stuffing out of the place for the following century. Its resurgence in the 19th century was largely due to the development of the railway, when Linz became an important junction.
Adolf Hitler may have been born in Braunau am Inn, but Linz was his favourite (he spent his school days here), and his (largely unrealised) plans for the city were grand. His Nazi movement built massive iron and steel works, which still employ many locals. After WWII, Linz was at the border between the Soviet- and the US-administered zones. Since 1955, Linz has flourished into an important industrial city, port and provincial capital.