The Palazzo Pitti, begun in 1457, was originally built for the banker Luca Pitti. Its huge scale was developed into its actual shape by the Medici, who one century later bought the palazzo when building costs bankrupted Pitti's heirs. In 1550 it became the main Medici residence and subsequently all Florentine rulers lived here. Today the richly decorated rooms exhibit treasures from the Medici collections and the Habsburg-Lorraine court.
The most imposing of the Florentine palaces was probably designed by Brunelleschi. Ammannati enlarged it in the 16th century. The facade is 205 meters long and 36 meters high and is covered by a powerful rustication in enormous blocks of stone. The only decorative element is the set of crowned lion heads set between the window corbels on the ground floor. The two projecting wings date to the periond of the Lorraners.
The large arched portal leads through an atrium into Ammannati's courtyard which lies lower than the hill of Boboli which with its gardens forms the back of the building. The Royal apartments and the Palatine Gallery are on the first floor; on the second is the Gallery of Modern Art. The palace also contains the Museo degli Argenti and the Museo delle Carrozze.