The Sforza Castle or Castello Sforzesco, Milan, is an important part of the Major City Sights Milan tour by A Friend in Milan. In the photo, one of the secondary gates with the drawbridge structure.
The Sforza Castle in Milan, a stronghold for art
For centuries, Castello Sforzesco was an impregnable stronghold built on the city walls. Each successive ruler added new defensive structures until it had reached today’s vast dimensions, though it was even larger in the past. It is now a stronghold for art and culture, with many museums. If you are interested in ancient and classical art, drawing and prints, Medieval arms and armour, or musical instruments, we can take you to the respective section. Here are some of the details of the Sforza Castle, Milan, that your tour companion will point out:
The heraldry of the Visconti family, later adopted by the Sforza dukes
The system of tunnels that enabled the Duke to move troops around the city unseen, and to escape from Milan
The staircase built so that the Duke could ride upstairs on his horse
A tower inside the castle, built because of a power struggle in the ruling family
The architectural details that enable you to distinguish the original parts of the castle from the late 19th century restoration
The meaning of the fountain in front of the Castle
At its heyday in 1450-1500, the Duke’s family had two residences inside. During wartime, they would move into one of the wings, inside the so-called Rocchetta, which was better protected against enemy invasions. (photo below)
The spectacular fountain in front of the Castle was built in 1930, during the Fascist regime. The central vat is based on the decorative motif of a bundle of rods (a fascio), that symbolized Mussolini’s dictatorship. The people of Milan call this fountain tort de’ spus, (namely wedding cake), after the shape created by the jets of water (see photo below)
Michelangelo and Leonardo at the Sforza Castle, Milan
The Sforza Castle Museum includes the Pietà Rondanini, the work on which Michelangelo was working feverishly when he died at the age of 88. It is incomplete, and it shows the almost Expressionist nature of his late years.
The Pietà Rondanini the last and incomplete work by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
You will also see a little-known work by Leonardo da Vinci, a fresco in Sala delle Asse. It has recently been restored, and it shows a “Back to the Future” situation created by the artist. Your tour companion will explain how Leonardo imagined what the room will be like many centuries in the future, when it has fallen into ruin and…
As always, the details make the difference. Your tour companion will show you the brush strokes that may be part of Leonardo’s first sketch outline on the walls, explaining their meaning in the composition. A fascinating part of a Milan walking tour.
Museums and Art Galleries at Castello Sforzesco
Other museums located within the Castello Sforzesco, Milan, include:
• Decorative arts
• Musical instruments
• Antique prints
• Photos and drawings
• Art history library
• Numismatics library
• History library
The collection of weapons and armour is fascinating for both adults and children
The art gallery exhibits works by Mantegna, Bronzino, Correggio, Titian, Tintoretto, Canaletto, and artists from the Lombard school.