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Sitges has been inhabited since the Middle Palaeolithic, as attested by archaeological remains from the Neolithic and Bronze Age. The town's earliest historical mention is a record of King Alfons III granting it "fueros" (charters) in 1196. In 1393, Sitges became an independent municipality under the control of Count Ramon Berenguer IV and with its own charter ("llibre"). At that time, it was already a well-known resort for Europeans on holiday: during this century several foreign aristocrats built palaces there to spend their summers or winters in what were known as 'snowing' or 'sunning' towns: places where people went to get away from cold northern Europe. During this period many modern urban features appeared for the first time including street lighting (1423), public beaches and bathing establishments; also important was construction work carried out between 1604–1610 on La Ribera quarter which included building new houses with gardens behind them facing onto Carrer Major - previously all buildings had faced onto narrow streets).