Palazzo Madama was begun at the end of the 15th century and completed in 1505, for the Medici family from Florence. It housed two Medici cardinals and cousins, Giovanni and Giulio, who both later became popes: Leo X (r. 1513-21) and Clement VII (r. 1523-34), respectively.
The palazzo takes its name from Madama Margherita of Austria (1522-86), illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V, who married another illegitimate son, Alessandro de' Medici.
The ornate façade was built (1637-42) by Paolo Maruccelli (1594-1649), based on a design by Ludovico Cardi (1559-1613), better known as il Cigoli. Marucelli added the ornate cornice and the whimsical decorative urns on the roof.
Since 1871 Palazzo Madama has been the seat of the Senate, the upper house of the Italian parliament.