Milan City

The Sforza Castle in Milan

 

Discover with your escort The Sforza Castle that is one of the most important cultural sights together with the Duomo in Milan; it has been submitted over the centuries to various transformations becaming a military fortress, a private residence and centre of museums representing over the years the complexity of the Renaissance period.

The name “Sforza” derives from the powerful family who lived there but initially the castle was not structured as residence. The original nucleos of this Medieval construction - known as Castello di Porta Giova (or Porta Zubia),– is dating back to 1358-1368 during Galeazzo II Visconti who used the Castle as his residence while he stayed in the city, but mostly used it as a military base.

Years later it was modified by others and successive Visconti rulers such as Gian Galeazzo, Giovanni Maria and Filippo Maria Visconti who expanded it, making it more large and transforming the building into a splendid square-plan ducal palace; the castle became Visconti Lords ‘s main residence and the symbol of their power continuing with the consolidation and construction of a real fortress, which was then practically completely destroyed during the Golden Ambrosian Republic (1447 - 1450).

The Golden Ambrosian Republic was a very short experience for Milan and after the Venice attack, the city was defended by Francesco Sforza who was recognized the new Duke: in that period the Sforza dynasty rose to power.

In that time wars were very frequent in Europe as well as in northern Italy so that was necessary to build towering castles: they were well fortified but none as the Sforza Castle which is a magnificent example of late medieval life that you can see with your escort.

The Sforza family reconstructed the castle that became one of the most magnificent places in Italy: it was mainly Francesco who, as ruler of the city in 1450, started reconstruction giving particular impetus and turning it into his princely residence. Francesco was not a simple medieval Lord but a sophisticated man: in 1452 he wanted the florentine architect and sculptor Antonio Filarete to build and decorate his castle. Filarete was a Renaissance artist and his main and most famous work is the Torre del Filarete which is a massive and central tower of the castle.

After Francesco the following dukes continued the construction of the structure, expanding and filling it with important masterpieces and involving numerous artists to make internal decorations.

In the end of 15th century Ludovico Sforza - nicknamed 'Il Moro' - became lord of the city 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.

The Genius Leonardo Da Vinci worked in Milan as a civil engineer and an artist and he was committed from 1498 to decorate the Sala delle Asse”, a big room inside the castle where you will be enchanted together with you escort. Leonardo, who was a deep observer of everything in particular the nature, painted trees of mulberry along the walls reproducing an outdoor space and creating a pergola of dense vegetation. He chose a particular tree for his symbolism: the mulberry was used to create the silk, which was an economic resource for the Sforza, and it was also considered the symbol for prudence, referring to the politics adopted to increase their power.

During the following centuries, when the city was under foreign rule, 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 but it was in such a bad conditions that the population was considering to destroy it. Fortunately the castle remained and the architect Luca Beltrami was commissioned 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.

Under the castle there is a labyrinth of underground tunnels: some of them were built by Lodovico Sforza in the 14th century while others were built by Spanish in the 16th century.

Today the Castle hosts many Civic Museums: I’m available to escort you planning a tour inside them:

 

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