Art Treasures in the Sforza Castle
Castello Sforzesco is one of the most important emblems of Milan and its history. One of the biggest citadels in Europe served as an official residence of Dukes of Milan since 1466. Initially, small fortress Castrum Portae Jovis (castle of Jovis Gate) was built in 1360-1370s by Duke Galeazzo II Visconti along Milan’s medieval walls. The Visconti Castle had a square plan (180×180 meters) with a tower in each corner. After death of the last Visconti in 1447, citizens of Milan proclaimed the Republic. The fortress was demolished and its stones were used for restoration of town walls.
In 1450, the great condottiere Francesco Sforza, who was married to Bianca Maria Visconti, became the Duke of Milan. Sforza rebuilt the castle on the foundation of Visconti’s Castrum. The new castle was much larger and more elegant than the former one. Famous Florentine architect Antonio Averulino, il Filarete, was commissioned to build a tower above the middle gates. He was one of the first Renaissance artists in Milan. The elegant four-tier tower, embellished by clock and white sculptures, softens an austere look of fortified walls. Architect Bartolomeo Gadio designed two big round towers at the façade corners. Sforza’s successor Galeazzo Maria transformed the courtyard into a luxurious residence, Corte Ducale.
After the unification of Italy the castle in the 19th century, the castle was restored and transformed from the military fortress into the largest museum center. “Musei del Castello Sforzesco” include the Museum of Ancient Art, the Furniture Museum, the Museum of Musical Instruments and the Applied Arts Collection, The Egyptian and Prehistoric sections of the Archaeological Museum and the Achille Bertarelli Print Collection. The admission fee is surprisingly low, only 3 Euros.
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