The Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco) is the pride of Milan and one of its key monuments. Reserved and majestic, it had witnessed numerous wars, revolutions and the long history of an ancient city. Initially built as a fortress in the 4th century by Duke Visconti, it had been destroyed after the declaration of the Golden Ambrosian Republic and rebuilt in the 15th century under Francesco Sforza, the new ruler of Milan. The appearance of the castle walls influenced the look of the Moscow Kremlin.
During the Sforza rule the castle had become one of the most luxurious ducal palaces in Italy. Some wall paintings are done by Leonardo da Vinci - his frescoes, now restored, can be seen in the ducal chambers. For many centuries Castello Sforzesco had been changing hands, going through decay and renaissance over and over again. During Napoleon's rule it had barely escaped the fate of Bastille, but the French emperor not only spared the castle, but partially rebuilt it too.
The adjacent park Sempione was added in 1893. This is the largest public park in Milan. In one of its nooks stands the famous Peace Arch, a granite arch of triumph, erected at the beginning of the 19th century by Napoleon to commemorate his victories in the Appenine Peninsula.
A full reconstruction of the Sforza castle was carried out in 1905. Bombings of the Second World War had not spared the ancient walls, but in 1956 the castle was once again returned to its splendid appearance that we see today. At present, the Sforza castle houses several museums: the Museum of Ancient Art; the ancient Egypt and prehistoric branches of the Museum of Archaeology; the collection of applied arts and the musical instruments museum; and, last but not least, the Pinacoteca that has 230 masterpieces of art, among which you will find works by Italian masters Filippino Lippi, Giovanni Bellini, Mantegna, Antonello da Messina and many more. The castle also holds the last unfinished sculpture group by Michelangelo, "Pieta Rondanini".
The Sforza castle is open to visitors from 7 am to 6 pm (winter) and from 7 am to 7 pm (summer). The museums are open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5:30 pm (last admission - 5 pm). The ticket costs 3в‚¬.