Saarbrücken is the capital of the state of Saarland in Germany. The city is situated at the heart of a metropolitan area that borders on the west on Dillingen and to the north-east on Neunkirchen, where most of the people of the Saarland live. Saarbrücken used to be the industrial and transport centre of a great coal basin. Production included iron and steel, sugar, beer, pottery, optical instruments, machinery, and construction materials. However, over the past decades the industrial importance of Saarland has declined, as the mining industry has become unprofitable. Historic landmarks in the city include the stone bridge across the Saar (1546), the Gothic church of St Arnual, the 18th century Saarbrücker Schloss (castle) and the old part of the town, the St. Johanner Markt. In 1815 Saarbrücken came underPrussian control, and for two periods in the 20th century (1919–35 and 1945–57) it became part of the Saar territory under French administration. For this reason, coupled with its proximity to the French border, it retains a certain French influence. In modern German Saarbrücken literally means Saar bridges, and indeed there are about a dozen bridges across the Saar river. However, the name actually predates any bridge at this spot by at least 500 years. The historical name of the town is actually Sarabrucca, derived from the Old High German word Brucca, which became Brocken in High German (rock or boulder in English).
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