This former palace/castle of the Sforza family houses a comprehensive collection of objects and artwork from roman times down to the 1800's. the original construction started in the 1300's but the present fortress was built in the mid 1400's.
Among the outstanding exhibits are biblical-themed tapestries, weapons and armour, coins, medieval church carvings in wood and stone, furniture and objects d'art.
The most famous piece is what is said to be the last sculpture of Michelangelo, in its half- finished state.
Confusing - I don't think I would be too far off base to label the organization of these museums confusing. We wandered around for quite some time not knowing for certain which of the museums we were visiting at the moment.
However, having said that, I must say that the visit was memorable for quite another reason - the closeup views of Michelangelo's unfinished Rondanini Pietà in the Museum of Ancient Art. There was no crowd of visitors and no barriers to obstruct the view, as you can see by the attached photo of wife Nancy standing within a foot of the sculpture.
Michelangelo passed away before finishing this work, evidenced by rough chisel marks and an extra arm which the artist was in the process of removing. Even so, it is clear that this Pietà would be far different from the elegant. world-famous version at the Basilica of St Peter in the Vatican. This finished sculpture would have been in the Mannerist style - more raw and emotional.
I soon wearied of the museum wandering (this was only the third day of a five-week trip) so after taking a few minutes to quickly view the antique musical instruments, we moved on.
In my pre-trip planning, I had not given a very high priority to the Sforza Castle, merely listed it as a nice thing to do if we had time. In retrospect, it was a VERY nice thing to do, highlighted by the opportunity for a close-up view Michelangelo's unfinished Rondanini Pietá.
Our appointment to view The Last Supper was early in the morning, and having no set plans for the rest of the day, we then decided to check out the Sforza - about a fifteen minute walk away.
This giant citadel resembles a fortress more than what most of us think of as a castle. Principle inhabitants through the centuries have been the Visconti and Sforza families. The interior of the castle now includes several museums and art galleries which are covered in separate tips.
The former parade ground, located on what was once the country side of the castle, is now the small, but peaceful Parco Sempione (see separate tip), and from the front entry, the Torre del Filarete, you see the beginning of the Via Dante - Milan's premier pedestrian way (also a separate tip).
A fine day for us: The Last Supper; Castello Sforzesco; a stroll up the Via Dante.
Castello Sforzesco was the very last attraction we visited on our trip, and we did not have much time left before we had to leave. It was clear that we would not have time to visit the interior, and so I expected that we would only be able to see the outer walls of the palace - but no! We were surprised to experience that it was possible to walk into the inner courtyards of the palace, and to walk around there and enjoy its beauty, for free! Only access to the museums within the buildings costs an entrance fee.
The palace was constructed in 1368 by the Visconti family, but it was almost completely destroyed in 1447. After that, it was rebuilt by the House of Sforza who in the meantime had become the Lords of Milan. During the renaissance, it became one of the most impressive and luxurious palaces in Italy, and Leonardo da Vinci lived and worked here. Some of the ceiling paintings he created in the rooms survive until today.
During the 16th and 17th century, the Spanish ruled Milan, and Castello Sforzesco became a huge military fort, one of the biggest in Europe. It had the shape of a star, and more than 2000 soldiers were stationed here. It then went to the Austrians who used it as a military fort as well. During these times, the wonders of the palace decayed, as beautiful rooms were used as barracks, workshops or stables.
In 1796, the palace was gained by Napoleon, and during the following years of military use, it decayed even further. When Napoleon was defeated in 1815, Milan became Austrian again, but in 1848, the palace came into possession of the City of Milan. After Italy 's unification, the restoration of the palace began, and it was finally opened to the public in 1900, showing its full glory after so many centuries.
I found the palace very interesting from the outside, but walking around the inner courtyards, I liked it even more. Although there were many people here, it was a beautiful and peaceful place, and it was so nice to walk around and enjoy this fantastic building. It looked so gorgeous in the sunshine, and many people were relaxing here and enjoying it just as we did. We were surprised that this area was so spacious, and, as I said earlier, even more so that it was free to come here!
Around the courtyards, there are the entrances to the different museums located in the palace, but we did not visit any of them. There are three museums here, showing ancient arts, arts and furniture from the 15th to the 20th century, and applied arts. I would of course like to visit them on a future trip, even if just to see the interior of the palace.
If you are in this part of Milan, I think to see the palace is a must!
This is probably Milan's second most visited tourist attraction (second to the Duomo) and certainly is an imposing building.
The original castle was built between 1358 and 1368 by the Visconti family and came into the hands of the Sforza family through the marriage of Francesco to the last heir of the Viscontis, Bianca Maria in 1477.
Francesco was a succesful general and was instrumental in the defeat of the Venetians after which he became the Duke of Milan. Francesco had the castle rebuilt between 1447 and 1450 and it was to be the seat of the Sforza family through the next two generations until Spanish domination in 1519.
Despite their relatively short-lived tenure the name Sforza has become attached to the edifice and these days the restored castle is owned by the city, housing most of the municipal museums and galleries.
Personally I just had a quick wander and took these few pics but had I had a bit more time I would have dropped into some of the exhibitions. It is quite a large complex and so a bit of pre-planning is recommended and the website below has comprehensive details regarding what's on offer, opening times, prices & etc.
Via Dante (Dante Alghieri Street) connecting Piazza Cordusio and Castello Sforzesco, two of the most visited spots of Milano. This short but very bussy street is pedestrian mall with number of shops, sidewalk cafe-bars and restaurants. Both locals and visitors like to spend time in this cafe-bars, sipping drinks and watching people passing by.
Via Dante is of particular interest for me and my compatriots because the General Consulat of Republic of Croatia is situated right here in this street.
Once one of the largest citadels in Europe, the origins of the castle are 14th century. But it was under the moderate Francisco Sforza, Duke of Milan for 19 years between 1447 and 1466, that the city and his castle began to take shape.
Under Spanish rule in the late 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was extensively rebuilt and expanded, housing more than 3000 men to protect the route in and out of Italy from the Alps. It became more of a fortress than a castle as a result.
Much of the huge and extensive battlements have long gone – present day Parco Sempione and the Piazza Castello were established on grounds once incorporated into the fortress.
Today, the castle is a mix of old and new – the central Filarete Tower was rebuilt between 1900 and 1905 as a monument to King Umberto I. Importantly, whilst access to the grounds and inner courtyards are free, the extensive rooms are the home of a number of civic museums.
Included in the complex is the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, a collection of art (including Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Mantegna), armoury and history of the city: Museum of Ancient Art and The Furniture Museum among others.
In Castle Sforzesca there is a small museum devoted to Ancient Egypt. Although the collection is neither vast nor particularly outstanding, it does contain several mummies- push your face up against the glass and marvel at how well they are preserved!
During the ages, the castle has been under the domination of Spain, France and Austria. Later it was conquered by Napoleon, again by the Austrians and in the end it was restored by the citizens of Milan.
The last king of the Visconti family, Filippo Maria, died in 1447. He had no legitimate heirs, so the citizens from Milan could proclaim a change of the regyme - the Republic. The fortress was destroyed and its stones were used to restore the town walls.
Hotel Principe Di Savoia Milan
7 Reviews and 363 Opinions One of Milan's best hotels, Principe di Savoia is housed in a Belle Epoque-style building. Though...
Park Hyatt Milan Milan
2 Reviews and 351 Opinions The worse hotel I ever stayed. My mum, my sister and myself were robbed inside our hotel room. The...
1 Review and 544 Opinions Why booked the Special room for 320 euro per night, because it looked the pretiest from the photos...