Completed in 1455 by Cosimo de’ Medici’s live-in architect Michelosso di Bartolomeo Michelozzi, the Palazzo Medici was constructed as the private residence of the Medici family. It was designed according to the values of humanism, the dominant ideology of the Renaissance, which attempts to engage the viewer with structures built on a more human scale.

At least, that’s the theoretical ideology of the palazzo, but, the effect goes something more like this: the outside is foreboding and keeps people out. If the façade could talk, it seems to be saying: “Get back! You do not belong here! You are not important enough to enter!”

In contrast, the interior courtyard, which only the Medici and their guests saw, has none of the exterior’s hard edges, it’s full of luscious, curving rounded arches, like a wedding cake. It says: “You’ve arrived, welcome to paradise!”

In fact, Cosimo both approved the courtyard and rejected an earlier architectural design plan by Brunelleschi that would have led to a more open façade. He wanted a Medici fortress inside Florence.

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