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.
The old fortress called 'di Porta Giovia' was built in the period from 1360 to 1370 around Milan's medieval walls. It has been built by Galeazzo Visconti as a defence. The Visconti Castle had a square plan (180x180 meters). A tower was built in each corner.
The Sforzesco Castle is a main attraction of Milan. It enjoys rich and long history during the past centuries. It was demolished, then rebuilt several times, embellished and restored to become a symbol of both happy and dramatic events that are to be found in the historical background of the city.
You will enjoy visiting this castle structure, a rebuilt model of the Sforza Castle. The inside area is huge and offers many photo opportunities. There are museums in several different parts and a really nice museum shop.
You really get a feel for the power of the ruler and when you know some of Da Vinci history you begin to see better how it fits with the times. Knowing how Da Vinci was supported by this ruler and what Sforza required of him helps you understand the result of Da Vinci's work. I would suggest a visit to a museum called Museo d'Arte e Scienza which has some nice exhibits on Da Vinci. This museum is located very near the castle.
Below are some photos to show you the castle.
7.00 a.m. - 6.00 p.m. (in winter) | 7.00 a.m. - 7.00 p.m. (in summer)
Free admission (except for castle museums)
Castello Sforzesco dates back to the late 14th century and is named after Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan, who turned the fortress into his residence. Today it houses several museums, including the Pinacoteca Museum of Art and the Museum of Musical Instruments.
You can walk around the grounds of the Castello free of charge, but there are fees to enter the museums. Check the website for more information.
I liked seeing the moat, now a deep, grass-covered ditch, and the huge portcullis at the entrance.
Open daily 7-6 (winter) and 7-7 (summer). The museums are closed on Monday.
This ancient castle with its towering and imposing fortress is a great attraction near Milan city centre! The architectural features are amazing and they are well preserved too. You won't miss this as the highest tower is seen in almost all of Milan, at whatever area you are in!
Aside from the huge tower, other features include lovely gardens andcourtyards, plus the stone structures which form part of the fortress of the castle.
Our guide said it used to be the seat and residence of the ruling family of Milan and now houses several of the city's museums and art collections.
The original construction on the site began in the 14th century. In 1450, Francesco Sforza began reconstruction of the castle, and it was further modified by later generations. A number of these rooms originally had elaborate internal decoration - the best known of these being the Sala Delle Asse with surviving ceiling paintings by Leonardo da Vinci.
We later also viewed the painting of THE LAST SUPPER by Da Vinci!
The Sforza Castle was very nice but very cold. Just imagine that it is surrounded and built with layers and layers of bricks. Of course, it gets really, really cold inside!
I can't believe why rich people in the old days live in such a large place! Unbelievable.
The castle has a museum inside but did not check it out. I just roamed around the castle and check out the buildings.
Castello Sforzesco was constructed as a fortress by Galeazzo II Visconti in 1368. It was soon turned into a palace and during the 15th century the Sforza family made it one of the most magnificent palaces in Italy. Later it fell into decay and was almost torne down, but luckily the buildings were saved and restored. Today it houses several museums and it is a nice place to walk around in.
The castle is open daily between 7 - 18 (19 in summer).
I visited Museo Civico situated around Corte Ducale. It has got a large collection of paintings, furniture and other artefacts. Admission was 3.00 Euro (February 2009). The museums at the castle are open 9.00 - 17.30 on Tue - Sun. They are closed on Mondays.
Being lost sometimes has its benefits and finding the Castello Sforzesco in this way was one of them for me! I had briefly read about the castle before leaving on this trip. However, I never really expected to have the time to see it. While looking for the church of Santa Maria dell Grazie, the castle literally loomed up before me.
The Castello Sforzesco was transformed into a ducal residence 1450 by Francesco Sforza, son of one of Milan's dynastic families. The castle's origins date back to the 2nd half of the 14th century during the time of Galeazzo II Visconti. Sforza's goal was to rebuild the castle and not only to restore it as a bulwark of defense but also make it a symbol of power and beauty in Milan. Sforza was considered one of the greatest, most honest and organized "condottieri" of Italy's great Remaissance soldier-heroes. After the unification of Italy, restoration was again conducted in 1833 and again after it was seriously damaged in 1943 during World War II.
Today the Castello houses municipal museums containing art, antiquities, musical instruments and the highlighted "Salle delle Asse," a frescoed room some attribute to Leonardo da Vinci.
The castle is open daily from 7am - 6 pm in Winter; 7am - 7pm in Summer.
Admission to the castle ONLY is free.
The castle museum is open Tuesday - Sunday from 9am - 5:30pm.
Regular full admission (2009): 3 Euros; FREE for children 18 & under;
1,5 Euros for municipal employees, university students and selected other art students.
After visiting the cathedral, I wanted to make a tour in the museums of the Sforza castle where the last masterpiece of Michelangelo, the unfinished Pieta Rondanini and a ceiling fresco by Leonardo, collections of antique furniture, historical musical instruments etc. can be found.
It is a very pleasant walk from Piazza Duomo to the Castle, down Via Mercanti, Piazza Cordusio and Via Dante. In Via Dante, there are many cafés that make an agreeable break for a coffee, beer, ice-cream or aperitif depending on your mood.
On arrival to the huge defense castle from the 14th Century, however, a written announcement at the entrance told me that they are sorry for it very much, but today the museums because of technical reasons cannot be visited. It was Sunday!
Because of this I was walking in the park behind the castle only, what is very pleasant place to stroll. For € 3.00 from the top of the almost 100 m high Torre Branca you can see Milan from above and take some photos.
Opening Hours Castle: every day 7am-6pm, (in winter) and 7am-7pm (in summer), free admission
Opening Hours Museums: every day 9.30am-5.30pm, closed on Mondays
Admission to the museums € 3.00 but from 4.30pm free
Michelangelo´s final sculpture, the Rondanini Pietà revisited the theme of the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of the dead Christ, which he had first explored in his Pietà of 1499. The Rondanini Pietà was begun before the Deposition, although in his dying days Michelangelo hacked at the marble block until only the dismembered right arm of Christ survived from the sculpture as originally conceived.
Es la última e inacabada obra en la que trabajó Miguel Angel desde 1552 y que en 1561 donó a Antonio del Francese. Sin embargo, siguió trabajando en ella hasta su muerte. Los cuerpos de la Virgen y del Cristo están apenas esbozados. Hay partes acabadas, como el brazo derecho de Cristo, y otras que no lo están, como el torso del Salvador, que está unido al cuerpo de la Virgen como si formaran uno solo.
With nearly 2000 items, it´s the most important collection lf Late-Antituity, Medieval and Renaissance sculpture in Milan and Lombardy. The Museum, housed in rooms still bearint the Sforza and Spanish Era decoration, displays items linked to the history of the city and region, coming from archaeological excavations or from churches and buildings no longer extant as well as masterpieces acquired by the City Council throughout the course of time.
Esla colección de escultura tardo-antigua, medieval y renacentista mas importante de Milán y Lombardia, cuenta con casi 2.000 piezas. El Museo, alojado en las salas que todavía conservan frescos de la época de la dominación de los Sforza y española, presenta obras relacionadas con la historia de la ciudad y de la región halladas en yacimientos arqueológicos o en iglesias y edificios actualmente inexistentes, además de obras maestras adquiridas por el Ayuntamiento de Milán.