Castello Sforzesco: Milan's Historic Gem

Piazza Castello, 20121 Milano MI, Italy

Castello Sforzesco, also known as Sforza Castle, is one of Milan’s most iconic landmarks. This 14th-century fortress is steeped in history and filled with art, offering visitors a unique glimpse into Milan’s past. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply a curious traveler, Castello Sforzesco has something for everyone. Here is your expert guide to making the most of your visit.

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Historical Background

Castello Sforzesco was originally built in 1368 as a defensive fortification. Over the centuries, it has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, reflecting the turbulent history of Milan. The Sforza family transformed it into a splendid ducal palace in the 15th century, inviting renowned artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Bramante to adorn its walls. Despite suffering considerable damage during subsequent conflicts, including under Spanish and Austrian rule, the castle was restored to its former glory by architect Luca Beltrami in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

What to See at Castello Sforzesco

Museums and Collections

The castle houses several fascinating museums that cater to a wide range of interests:

  • Museum of Ancient Art: Home to the Sforza family’s frescoes and sculptures from various eras, including Michelangelo’s last unfinished work, the Rondanini Pietà.
  • Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco: An extensive art collection featuring over 1,500 works from the 13th to the 18th centuries.
  • Museum of Musical Instruments: Showcasing unique instruments from around the globe.
  • Egyptian Museum: Exhibiting Egyptian artifacts such as statues, mummies, and sarcophagi.
  • Archaeological Museum of Milan: Displaying objects from Lombardy’s major cultures, from the Neolithic to the Roman period.
  • Applied Arts Collection: Highlighting the craftsmanship of potters, sculptors, upholsterers, and weavers.
  • Antique Furniture and Wooden Sculpture Museum: Featuring furniture from the 15th to the 20th centuries, displayed in rooms that reflect different historical periods.

Architectural Highlights

Don’t miss the castle’s impressive architectural features:

  • Towers and Courtyards: The castle’s towers and spacious courtyards offer a glimpse into its defensive past and ducal splendor.
  • Decorative Elements: Look out for intricate frescoes, detailed stone carvings, and other decorative elements that speak to the artistic legacy of the castle.

Parco Sempione

Adjacent to the castle, Parco Sempione is a serene green space perfect for a leisurely stroll. Key features include:

  • The Fountain and Pond: Located within the park, these elements provide a picturesque setting.
  • Historical Monuments: Don’t miss the monument to Napoleon III and the Mermaids Bridge, which add historical context to the area.

What Not to Miss

  • Rondanini Pietà: Michelangelo’s poignant, unfinished masterpiece.
  • Codex Trivulzianus: A manuscript by Leonardo da Vinci, housed within the castle.
  • Central Courtyard: Free to visit and a great spot for photography.

Tips for Tourists

  • Purchase Tickets in Advance: To avoid long lines, consider buying your tickets online. The €5 ticket grants you access to all the museums within the castle.
  • Allocate Enough Time: With so much to see, plan to spend at least half a day exploring the castle and its museums.
  • Guided Tours: For a deeper understanding of the castle’s history and collections, consider joining a guided tour.

Getting There

Castello Sforzesco is easily accessible via public transport:

  • Metro: Take line M1 to Cadorna or Cairoli, or line M2 to Lanza.
  • Bus: Served by lines 18, 50, 37, 58, 61, and 94.
  • Tram: Lines 1, 2, 4, 12, 14, and 19 stop nearby.

Opening Hours:

  • Castle: Open every day from 7 am to 7:30 pm.
  • Museums: Open Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 am to 5:30 pm.

Ticket Prices:

  • Adults: €5
  • Students (18-25 years old): €3
  • Children under 18: Free

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