Castello Sforzesco

February 19, 2013 by

Sightseeing, Things to Do

The inner courtyard at Castello Sforzesco. Creative commons photo by ChrisYunker via Flickr.

Milan’s Castello Sforzesco, once the fortified home of the regional government, now anchors one of the city’s big parks and houses a few separate museums and galleries. The structure dates back to the 14th century and features several distinctive towers.

The Castello Sforzesco, or Sforza Castle, gets its name from the ruling Sforza family that inherited it in the mid-15th century. Originally built in the 14th century by the Visconti family, the castle was significantly reconstructed by the Sforzas when they became rulers of the area. While the exterior is relatively plain, all red bricks with very little decoration, the rooms originally featured heavy decoration – including one room that still has the ceiling paintings by Leonardo da Vinci.

In later years, under Spanish rule, the Castello Sforzesco was expanded to become one of Europe’s biggest citadels. Ownership of the castle was transferred to the city in the 19th century, and it now houses several museums. Inside the castle you’ll find the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, an Egyptian museum, a furniture museum, a museum of musical instruments, a museum housing archaeological artifacts from the area, and an art museum that has Michelangelo’s final sculpture.

The castle itself is open every day and there’s no admission fee to simply walk through its internal courtyards. The individual museums inside the castle are open Tuesday-Sunday, and there are admission fees for each museum. The Castello Sforzesco is conveniently located right next to the Cadorna train station, so it’s easy to reach via Metro, bus, or tram.

- Jessica Spiegel

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