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!
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.
The Sforza Castle is a major symbol of Milan, and very distinctive. It looks quite unlike the castles you can see all across northern Europe, and like much of the rest of the architecture in Milan seems to have more than its fair share in beautiful adornments. Like much of Milan the castle is ornately decorated, and seems more for show than for defence, but for that it is much more beautiful than the functional castles of Britain. The original castle was completed in 1368, but then destroyed less than a hundred years later by the government of the time. It never was fully destroyed, and after Francesco Sforza came to power, he ordered it to be rebuilt again. Despite many disasters, including a lightning strike which set off 250,000 pounds of gunpowder inside the Il Filarete tower to explode, the castle has been fully restored to its original splendour.
The grounds and buildings of the castle include a large parade ground and a large number of richly frescoed halls. It is possible to enter and walk about the castle grounds for free.
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
When Francesco Sforza died in 1466, his firstborn son, Galeazzo Maria, became Duke of Milan. He was a refined, cultured young man who liked luxury and was used to attend the French Court, as well as those in Mantua and Ferrara. He had spent his childhood in the palace of Pavia, developing a sort of passion for his mother's ancestors, in particular for Giangaleazzo Visconti, whose portrait was painted in many frescos at the Castle. He liked to imitate Gian Galeazzo's style in dressing and his taste in choosing hounds. As he wanted to move the entire court into the castle, Galeazzo Maria decided to transform the old fortress into a luxury residence. Again, architects called in to work on the project are Bartolomeo Gadio and Benedetto Ferrini from Florence. The latter had already been working on some projects commissioned by the Sforza family since 1452.
The building of the new residence went on quickly. Galeazzo Maria had the Castle enhanced with the Ducal Courtyard and other elements along the Rocchetta. The chronicles of that time report that the Sforza family's lifestyle was quite simple. They liked luxury when choosing clothes, horses and jewellery but used to live in rooms just next to the hen house. At night, they used to sleep in the same rooms where they had held meetings during the day.
The architects worked unceasingly. On the occasion of the French bride's arrival, Bartolomeo Gadio had to design a stable that could host as many as ninety horses.
... it could be nice to go to the Castello, the old building in the central Milan. And when you have had your five minutes of "looking at art" you can go on, further on, and just relax in the sun in the park Sempione. It's a huge park, with a bar, small waterholes, big grassfields where you can relax, play football, talk to some friends, or just look at all the girls that walks by...
The castle was inicially built between 1360 and 1370, then only for defence reasons. The behind the fort was Galeazzo II Visconti, but his successors continued to build, and Filippo Maria even lived there, plus building up the huge park (definately a "must stoll"-area).
The castle was badly damaged by WWII-bombs in 1943, but was rebuilt again. It's today one of Milano's most popular places to visit.
The first thing you'll see when you enter is the castle garden, with the walls around it. Inside there are some museums, mostly of art but also antiques.
When AC Milan won "Lo scudetto", the italian league-title , in 2003/04 the whole squad, including all directors, met up in the castle for the party in the evening.
Outside the head entrance you'll find a very nice fountain, and on the other side of the inside garden you'll find the Parco Sempione.
Free entrance to the castle, but I think you'll have to pay entrance to the museums.
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.
Rocchetta is a fortress the castle surrounded on three sides by porticoes.
The right one was constructed by the Florentine Benedetto Ferrini by order of Galeazzo Maria, the one opposite is by Filarete and the left one was begun by Bernardino da Corte in 1495 and finished by Bramante under the orders of Ludovico il Moro.
From the courtyard, through an archway, one enters the Treasure Room, so called, because the ducal treasure was kept there.
La Corte Ducale ( the Ducal Court) was the residence of the Sforza in time of peace and tranquillity.
The access is made through a door surmounted by a great Sforza coat of arms.
The stupendous courtyard of the Ducal Court is flanked on three sides by a two storey construction with two rows of pointed arch windows.
The huge Duomo in Milan is the fourth largest in the world.
The architecture is very gothic in style, with amazing spires.
The best part of the visit is climbing to the top and walking on the roof of the cathedral, taking in the view of the city below.
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.
Dating from the 14th century, the Milan Castle or Castello Sforzesco in Italian is one of the greatest monuments of the Renaissance period.
The building of the castle was commissioned by Galeazzo II Visconti and it was extended by his successors, Gian Galeazzo, Giovanni Maria and finally by Filippo Maria, who had it altered and improved in order to become the permanent residence of the Visconti dynasty.
In 1450, Francesco Sforza took possession of the Castle and began the reconstruction in order to create a fortification.
During the Spanish domination (16th-17th centuries) the castle underwent further transformation becoming a military fortress.
With the join of the Lombardy to the Regno di Sardegna, the old castle became a barracks and in 1880 was sentenced to complete destruction, but in 1893 the architect Luca Beltrami began a radical reconstruction.
Although it was damaged once more during the last war, Castello Sforzesco was restored and became a museum.
New layout for exhibit of 15th - 21st century furnishings and wooden sculpture
1st floor of the Ducal Courtyard, Museum of Applied Arts
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9 AM - 5:30 PM
For more information, contact CRAAI: + 39 02.88463654
Pinacoteca - on display 230 works of art, which include masterpieces by famous Italian painters such as Mantegna, Antonello da Messina, Foppa, Cesare da Sesto, Procaccini, Cerano, and many others.
1st floor of the Ducal Courtyard, from room XX to room XXVI
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9 AM - 5:30 PM
Paid admission (Ticket office closes an hour earlier)
For more information, contact: + 39 02.88463700
Museum of Ancient Art
On the ground floor of the Ducal Courtyard
Collections of Applied Arts and the museum of musical instruments
On the first and second floors of the Rocchetta
Egyptian Section of the Archaeological Museum
The underground level of the Rocchetta and Sala Viscontea
Prehistoric Section of the Archaeological Museum
The underground level of the Rocchetta and Sala Viscontea
Iconography of the city and castle of Milan
Castello Sforzesco, "Achille Bertarelli" Print Collection Reading Room
Opening hours: Monday through Friday, from 2 to 5.30 p.m.
Galeazzo Maria Sforza was killed on December 26 1476 in front of the Saint Stephen Church. His widow Bona had a high tower built in the most protected area of the Castle: the Rocchetta. From there, she could look out on all the building. The tower is known today as 'Torre di Bona'.
Photo 2 - Tower Ceiling
Photos 3 & 4- Mounted figures on tower wall
Castle Sforza has represented a symbol of the power in the hands of the Dukes, as well as of the foreign dominators. Only at the beginning of the 20th century the Castle assumed its distinctive role as a cultural center, hosting numerous Lombard art collections. The Castle was named after Francesco Sforza, who transformed it into a ducal residence in 1450. But its origins date back to the second half of the 14th century, at the time of Galeazzo II Visconti.
9.00 a.m. - 6.00 p.m. (in winter) | 9.00 a.m. - 7.00 p.m. (in summer)
Free admission (except for castle museums)
December 25, January 1, May 1