Opening hours: open for exhibitions and summer spectacles.
Admission ticket: Free (except during art exhibitions).
The fortress of Belvedere, located on the hill behind the garden of Boboli, is often referred to as «the most beautiful terrace on Florence». Art exhibitions and summer festivals are held here.
The sixth city walls, built in the 14th Century, included a bastion at the side of the Gate of San Giorgio: on this bastion was built between 1590 and 1595 a fortress dedicated to St. Mary, but better known as «Forte di Belvedere», due to the beautiful panoramic view of the city that can be enjoied from here.
In the intention of Duke Ferdinando I de' Medici, the fortress of Belvedere should serve two purposes: along with the fortress da Basso (located near today's train station), it was conceived as a defence against invading armies - but also as a powerful instrument to keep in check the city; furthermore, the fortress of Belvedere could offer a secure refuge for the Medici family in case of an internal uprising, due to its direct connection with the Gardens of Boboli and the Pitti palace.
Click to enlarge pictures.
The fortress was designed by Bernardo Buontalenti (although Giovanni de' Medici, the Duke's brother, was the official director of the construction) and is characterized by the polygonal plan and by the small villa in the middle.
Until 1951 the Fortress of Belvedere was a military facility; in that year the Italian Army donated it to the City of Florence. After a restoration, since 1955 the fortress is open to visitors and is regularly used for modern art exhibitions as well as for festivals and open air spectacles during the summer.
In the spotlight
This fortress is a good example for Italian military architecture from the Renaissance: it contains elements with a pure military function (as the inclined bastions), but also its propagandistic role is clear. The fortress of Belvedere was conceived as a proof of the Medici's power, as is suggested by the villa built on top of the bastions: this small building is clearly visible from the city and its shape is unmistakable in the panorama of the hills on the southern side of Florence.