The historic Sforza Castle in Milan, Italy was once an emblem of tyranny, but now it is a symbol of the city and houses many important museums and art collections. Learn more about visiting Sforza Castle in Milan.
History of Sforza Castle
Between 1360 and 1370, Galeazzo Visconti II originally built a fort here known in Italian as Castello di Porta Giova. In 1450, Francesco Sforza took over as Duke of Milan and began to turn the castle into his princely residence. The castle then became known in Italian as Castello Sforzesco, or Sforza Castle in English. The Sforzas commissioned skilled artists to decorate their royal palace; Leonardo da Vinci and Bramante painted frescoes in many of the rooms of the castle.
The castle came under French rule in 1499, Spanish rule in the 1500s, and Austrian rule by the 1700s. During this time, the castle was turned into a garrison. Buildings on the site included a pharmacy, a hospital, shops, a tavern, an ice house, two churches, and warehouses. The castle’s frescoes and stucco decorations began to deteriorate.
After the unification of Italy in the 1800s, the castle returned to the property of Milan. Afterwards, in 1893, major reconstruction of the castle began. The castle was soon returned to its former glory, and now Sforza Castle is home to numerous art museums, archaeological museums, and a museum of musical instruments.
Touring the Sforza Castle Museums
If you’re planning to see the museums, then there is a lot for you to see. The museums you can visit include:
- The Museum of Rondanini Pietà
- The Museum of Ancient Art
- The Pinacoteca
- The Antique Furnishings & Wooden Sculpture
- The Museum of Decorative Arts
- The Museum of Musical Instruments
- The Archaeological Museum – Prehistory and Protohistory Section
- The Archaeological Museum – Egyptian Section
- The Achille Bertarelli Print Collection
- The Applied Arts Collection
The Rondanini Pietà is a must as it has the last work sculpted by Michelangelo, which he was working on just days before he died.
The Sforza Castle Pinacoteca, as well, is particularly remarkable for its extensive collection of Renaissance paintings. This museum contains great works like Filippo Lippi’s “Madonna of Humility”, Vincenzo Foppa’s “Madonna of the Book”, Napoletano’s “Madonna Lia”, Lorenzo Lotto’s “Portrait of a youth with a petrarchino”, and Correggio’s “Bolognini Madonna”.
Visiting Sforza Castle
The castle itself is free to enter, but admission to the museums costs extra. If you want to simply walk inside the castle walls and explore the courtyard, that’s perfectly fine. The castle courtyard is open daily from 7 a.m. — 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for the museums cost €5 for adults or €3 for those aged 18-25 and 65+, which includes entrance to all the castle museums. The castle museums are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. — 5:30 p.m., with the last admission at 5 p.m.
Ready to visit Sforza Castle in Milan, Italy? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book your flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find accommodation: You can find top hotels in Milan using Booking.com.
- Get packing: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need with my packing list resources.
Have you visited Sforza Castle in Milan, Italy? Let me know about your trip in the comments!