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Milan - The Sforza Castle

 

The Sforza Castle in Milan

Discover with your escort The Sforza Castle that is one of the most important cultural sights in Milan and has undergone over the centuries various transformations as it has been a military fortress, private residence and centre of museums.

The original nucleos of this Medieval construction - known as Castello di Porta Giova (or Porta Zubia), from the name of a gate in walls located nearby – is dating back to 1358-1368 during Galeazzo II Visconti who used the Castle as his residence while he stayed in Milan, but mostly used it as a military base.

Years later it was enlarged by his successors Gian Galeazzo, Giovanni Maria and Filippo Maria Visconti  and became a splendid square-plan ducal palace with 200 m-long sides, four towers at the corners and up to 7-metre-thick (23 ft) walls; the castle became Visconti Lords ‘s main residence, continuing with the consolidation and construction of a real fortress which was then practically completely destroyed during the Golden Ambrosian Republic (1447 - 1450).

Later the Milan Sforza family reconstructed the castle that became one of the most magnificent residences in Italy: it was mainly Francesco Sforza who, as  ruler of Milan in 1450 and once he shattered the republicans, started reconstruction giving particular impetus and turning it into his princely residence. During 1452 Francesco gave order to sculptor and architect Filarete to design and decorate the central tower, which is still known as Torre del Filarete.  After Francesco's death, his son Galeazzo Maria continued the construction involving architect Benedetto Ferrini.

In 1494 Ludovico Sforza - nicknamed 'Il Moro' - became lord of Milan and during his reign the castle was transformed into a magnificent Renaissance residence: the Duke turned to the great artists of his time to decorate the castle such as Leonardo da Vinci (Sala delle Asse) and Bramante, who painted frescoes in the Sala del Tesoro.

During the following centuries, when Milan was under foreign rule, the castle , the castle was damaged by assaults from Italian, French and German troops and mostly used as a barracks. The Torre del Filarete, which was used as a munition storage, exploded in 1521.

After the unification of Italy in the 19th century, the castle was transferred from military use to the city of Milan but it was in such a bad conditions that the population was considering to destroy it: the castle remained and the architect Luca Beltrami was instructed to save and renovate it. In 1893 Beltrami started working at the monument converting it into a public place hosting several cultural institutions.

The renovation of this wonderful medieval castle in Milan was concluded in 1905.

Today the Castle hosts many Civic Museums that you can explore with your escort:

·         The Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, which the art collection includes famous names such as Andrea Mantegna, Canaletto, Tiepolo, Vincenzo Foppa, Titian, Tintoretto.

·         The Museum of Ancient Art.

·         The Museum of Musical Instruments.

·         The Egyptian Museum.

·         The Prehistoric collections of the Archaeological Museum of Milan.

·         The Applied Arts Collection.

·         The Antique Furniture & Wooden Sculpture Museum.

·         The Achille Bertarelli Print Collection.

·         The Museum of Rondanini Pietà

·          The Trivulziana Library - Leonardo da Vinci's 'Codex Trivulzianus'