This palazzo has housed the French embassy since the 1870s. Considered by many to be the finest Renaissance palace in Rome, the huge building - recently and dramatically restored - was begun for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (later Pope Paul III) in 1514 by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. Sangallo died before it was completed, and in 1546 Michelangelo took over. He was responsible for most of the upper storeys, the grand cornice along the roof, and the inner courtyard.
Vignola and Giacomo della Porta completed the rear façade, which gives out to a large garden. Several generations of Farneses passed through the palazzo; it was Cardinal Odoardo who called in Annibale Carracci to paint the magnificent frescoes in the gallery. Odoardo also was responsible for the picturesque bridge across via Giulia, which connected the garden to what was then known as the Camerini farnesiani, where the family kept its sculpture collection.