This post on the Milan Sforza Castle is an excerpt from the book “Milan“ by Enrico Massetti. It’s available in printed and digital formats. – The independent, unbiased, and accurate guide to the city.
History of the Castle
Milan Sforza Castle is one of the most representative and famous monuments in Milan. It has undergone over the centuries various and complex transformations. It has been defense fortress, military barracks, private residence and center of cultural institutions and museums.
Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, built the Milan Sforza Castle in the 15th century, constructed on the remnants of a 14th-century fortification. The Dukes renovated and enlarged it. In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was one of the largest citadels in Europe.
Extensively rebuilt by Luca Beltrami in 1891–1905, it now houses several of the city’s museums and art collections.
The Castle had purely defensive functions when Galeazzo II Visconti took it over around 1368. It lost its initial destination as a fortress and assumed that of a kingly dwelling. It resumed its original role in 1450 under Francesco Sforza, the new Lord of Milan. His successor, Ludovico il Moro, turned the Castle into one of the most sumptuous courts of Renaissance Italy. It was a point of attraction to the most talented artists of the time.
The Austrian rule.
With the sixteenth century began the slow and fatal decline of this massive building. The Austrians took possession in the eighteenth century. Their dominion ended when Vittorio Emanuele II liberated Lombardy. The only exception was the French rule by Napoleon between 1796-1814.
The famous architect Luca Beltrami carried out its reconstruction. Starting in 1893, he brought the Castle back to its former model.
I must mention the impressive Tower of Filarete, the huge Piazza d’Armi Courtyard, the Rocchetta Courtyard, and the small Courtyard of the Fountain.
Museums in the Castle – Art museums.
In the Castle there are several museums:
Michelangelo’s Pieta Rondanini statue .exhibition in the Old Hospital museum.
Pinacoteca – are on display here 230 works of art. They include masterpieces by famous Italian painters. Mantegna, Antonello da Messina, Foppa, Cesare da Sesto, Procaccini, Cerano, and many others are present.
1st floor of the Ducal Courtyard, from room XX to room XXVI.
The Museum of Ancient Art is on the ground floor of the Ducal Courtyard.
Museum of Applied Arts.
Museums in the Castle – other museums.
The Museum of Musical Instruments exhibits over 700 musical instruments from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries. Particular attention is to Lombard instruments. The collection contains plucked instruments — Lombard and Cremonese violins, hunting horns, bassoons, pianos, and some ancient organs. Wood instruments, flutes, oboes, clarinets, and English horns are also present. The Cremonese lutherie from Cremona, in low Lombardy, is appreciated all over the world for the high quality of its musical instruments.
Sala Delle Asse – Leonardo da Vinci.
Museo Dei Mobili e Delle Sculture Lignee – Museum of wooden furniture and sculptures.
Museo Delle Arti Decorative – Museum of Decorative Arts.
Egyptian Section of the Archaeological Museum and Sala Viscontea. The underground level of the Ducal Courtyard.
Prehistoric Section of the Archaeological Museum and Sala Viscontea.
The underground level of the Ducal Courtyard.
The iconography of the city and Castle of Milan. Achille Bertarelli” Print Collection Reading Room. This museum exhibits 15th – 21st-century furnishings and Wooden Sculpture. It’s on the first floor of the Ducal Courtyard.
Milan Sforza Castle reference.
The official website of Milan Sforza Castle, www.milanocastello.it has plenty of information. You find there the most up-to-date timetable, opening hours, and special exhibitions.