Sforza castle is one of the heritage sites in the city of Milan that over the centuries has been into many representative roles, a fortress of defense, army barracks, a royal residence and finally a famous site for one of Milan’s finest museums that is now an integral part of the cultural life of the city. Being one of the finest heritage landmarks it is a must visit place in any Milan tour itinerary. The civic museum inside the castle holds one of the richest art collections in the city. Besides for enthusiasts in the medieval art and life Sforza Castle also offers a great array of historic archives and museums and libraries. Considering the huge reserve of artworks ad historic collections from several eras of history, this palace is likely to be one of the best heritage sites to visit on your Milan holiday.
The original plan of the castle was conceived by the then local lord Galeazzo II Visconti in the 14th Century, but it was smaller than the expanse on which it stands today. In the subsequent time his successors continued to enlarge it until it became a stupendous palace with 4 towers on the corner ends, 200 meter long sides and 7 meter thick walls. In the fifteenth century it became the princely residence of the lord Francesco Sforza and then his successor Lodovico Sforza after becoming the lord of Milan in 1494 began the fresco works in the palace rooms after summoning numerous famous artists for this task. To our surprise among these artists there was Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most celebrated artists of all time. After surviving several battles and bloodshed the castle in the sixteenth century was transformed into a citadel or fortress by the Spanish. Finally in the rule of Napoleon the castle again returned to its former glory and several new attributes were added. In this period the castle was given a typical street layout with city like urban blocks on the one side and countryside like vast parade ground on the other side.
It is simply impossible to talk of the attractions at one gasp concerning this imposing architectural heritage with several art galleries, historical museums and archives inside it. For meticulous viewing of the museums and the whole architecture you have no other choice but to leave aside at least a whole day on your Milan tour itinerary for this splendid castle. Last year some paintings and artworks had been discovered inside the Sforza Castle that are according to experts can be attributed to some of Italy’s supreme artists like Michelangelo and Caravaggio.
The principal art collection of the castle exhibits famous works by renowned Italian masters like Andrea Mantegna, Carnaletto, Tiepolo, Vincenzo Foppa, Tiziano Vecellio, Tintoretto and many others. In the Ancient Art collection you would be seeing Michelangelo’s last sculpture ‘Rondanini Pieta’. The exquisite tapestry collection is another attraction of this museum. The underground level of the courtyard holds another treasure, an Egyptian museum displaying several mummies, papyri from the famous Book of the Dead and a funerary mask collection. There is a huge applied arts collection in the museum with a great range of artistic earthenware, ceramic works, ivories, pottery, art glass and chinaware. The antique furniture in the castle is also worth viewing to have an idea of the erstwhile elegance and royal taste of living.
Timing and Tickets
The castle is open all through the week, but the museums are closed on Mondays. The castle remains open to visitors from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm in summer and from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm in the winter. The museums remain open from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm for the visitors. Though the admission to the castle is free, there is ticket of E 3 for visiting the museums inside the castle.
How to Get There
Sforza Castle can be reached directly by tramline 1 or alternatively you can take MM1 or the metro red line and get down to Cairoli-Castello stop or you can get down at Lanza stop taking MM2 or the metro green line.