Piazza Pitti marks the start of the visit to the palace. The square has recently been repaved on the same design as that used in the 18th century, with three stone-paved driveways up to the door. The square is dominated by the powerful elongated palace building, which Maria de' Medici, Queen of France (1573-1642), used as a model when she had the Luxembourg Palace built in Paris.
The group of museums contained in the Pitti Palace were formed during five centuries of history. It is certainly the largest museum complex in the city (the building alone is 32.000 square metres in size) and perhaps can also be considered the most fascinating and complete of them all, partly for its size and partly for the wide variety of historical, artistic and naturalistic subjects that the curious visitor can find exhibited there.
Looking up over and past the Palace rooftop, we can see the trees of the Boboli Gardens, which, covering 320.00 square metres of land, are full of grottos, fountains and statues and sprawl along the slopes of the hill of the same name. Higher up, behind the ramparts built by Michelangelo during the Seige of Florence (1529), the hill of Boboli is blocked off by the elegant little palace of Fort Belvedere, or the Fort of San Giorgio, designed by Bernardo Buontalenti (1590-1600) for defensive purposes but used more in particular as a strong-room for the Medici treasury.