What’s in this guide?
- What to see at Castello Sforzesco
- Castello Sforzesco history and facts
- Restaurants, bars and shops nearby
- Opening times and ticket prices
How to get to Castello Sforzesco
If you want to visit Sforzesco Castle, you’re in luck! It couldn’t be easier to get there from most parts of Milan. You’ll most likely stumble upon this imposing monument when strolling around the area. By public transport? Thanks to its central location, Castello Sforzesco is easy to reach.
The quickest way to get there is by metro. Milan’s metro system is very efficient, with services running every few minutes. The closest stops to the castle are Cadorna and Cairoli on the M1 line or Lanza on M2. Cairoli will bring you out at the park entrance, whereas Cadorna and Lanza are a stone’s throw from the gates.
If there isn’t a metro station near you, you can hop on the bus or tram. Bus lines 18, 50, 37, 58, 61 and 94 get you there, while you can also travel on tram lines 1, 2, 4, 12, 14 and 19.
Although single tickets are a cost-effective solution, buying a travel card is a great way to save money, especially if you’re planning to use public transport often. The two best options are the 48-hour pass, for €8.25, and the 24-hour pass, for €4.50.
What to see at Castello Sforzesco
If you want to learn more about the history of Milan, Castello Sforzesco certainly knows a thing or two. Formerly used as a fortification and partly demolished in the 1800s under Napoleon’s order, the castle stood the test of time and today houses some of Milan’s best museums. Let’s have a closer look at a few of the attractions on the site.
Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco
This art gallery was inaugurated in 1878 and showcases around 200 artworks by notable Italian artists, including Mantegna, Canaletto, Pisanello, Bellini and Tintoretto. The collection was enriched in the last two centuries and houses more than 1,500 pieces to date.
The first part of the gallery narrates the evolution of Italian art between the 15th and 16th centuries. In contrast, the second half displays artworks from the 16th to the 18th century, with masterpieces by Giambattista Tiepolo and Bernardo Bellotto.
The Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum is one of Milan’s most intriguing, located in the castle’s underground level. It’s divided into seven sections, all tracing the history of Egyptians by showcasing original artefacts, such as statues, sarcophaguses and ancient writing.
Museum of Ancient Art
The Museo d’Arte Antica (Museum of Ancient Art) celebrates the beauty of eras like Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It displays sculptures and frescoes from the 15th and 16th centuries. Not to mention a collection of arms from the 18th century, including swords and firearms.
The museum’s highlight is Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pietà – a marble sculpture portraying the Virgin Mary mourning over the dead body of Christ, first represented in the Pietà.
Museum of Musical Instruments
This fascinating museum is home to more than 700 musical instruments from the 15th to the 20th centuries. It mainly focuses on Lombardy’s musical heritage, showcasing instruments like violins and hunting horns and wooden ones like pianos, organs, and flutes.
In 2000, Fondazione Antonio Monzino gave the museum 79 additional instruments from the 18th and 20th centuries, representing the long-standing history of Lombard lutherie.
The Applied Arts Collection
Jewellery, pottery, ivory, art glass, you name it. The Raccolta d’Arte Applicata di Milano (Milan’s Applied Arts Collection) displays artefacts from the Renaissance, Middle Ages and Baroque periods and a selection of European china and earthenware.
The Sala della Balla (Della Balla room) contains twelve tapestries representing the twelve months of the year, inspired by some of Bramantino’s drawings.
The Biblioteca Trivulziana (Trivulziana Library) is home to around 180,000 volumes, including manuscripts, archives, contemporary books, photographs and ancient maps.
Here you can find one of the best-preserved copies of Dante’s masterpiece the Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy), Petrarca’s Canzoniere and Da Vinci’s libretto d’appunti (notebook).
Castello Sforzesco history and facts
Castello Sforzesco is by far one of Milan’s most notable landmarks, attracting more than 500,000 visitors every year.
The castle is an essential milestone in the history of Lombardy’s capital and celebrates the city’s invaluable artistic heritage. Its construction was anything but easy. Let’s dive deeper into how the castle turned into a magnificent ducal palace.
The early days
Galeazzo II Visconti ordered the construction of a castle between 1358 and 1370 called Castello di Porta Giova. It was later expanded by Galeazzo’s successors until it turned into the Visconti’s ducal palace, with four towers and 23-foot walls. The castle was completely destroyed when the city was ousted by the Ambrosian Golden Republic.
Francesco Sforza took over the castle’s reconstruction in 1450. He made it into a majestic palace adorned with frescoes and splendid antiques. The Sala del Tesoro (the treasure room) was decorated by Bramante. At the same time, Da Vinci worked on the ceiling of Sala delle Asse (room of the tower) and other rooms alongside Zenale and Butinone. Sforza also hired the sculptor Filarete, who designed and painted the central building, today known as Torre del Filarete (Filarete’s tower).
Under the Spanish domination in the 16th century, the castle re-adopted its original function as a fortress, becoming one of Europe’s largest citadels. However, most of the castle’s outer fortifications were demolished under Napoleon’s order in the 1800s and the Spanish bastions and towers.
After Italy’s unification in the 19th century, Sforzesco was transferred to the city of Milan and Sempione Park was built on the former parade grounds. Bombing during WWII severely damaged the castle. Post-war reconstruction focused on making Sforzesco a museum. Thanks to these changes, the building today houses various galleries.
Restaurants, bars and shops near Castello Sforzesco
Thanks to its convenient location, a stone’s throw from the Duomo and the Pinacoteca di Brera, you can find plenty of restaurants and bars to grab a bite around Sforzesco. And if you’re looking for some last-minute presents, no panic. Milan is Italy’s fashion capital.
If you’re in the mood for a pizza, you’ve come to the right city (and country!). Here are some of the best pizzerias around Sforzesco:
- Pizzeria Biagio
- Ristorante Pizzeria Convivium
- Gino Sorbillo
- Pizzeria Biagio
- Pizzeria Sibilla
Seafood lover? No problem. Milan’s got you covered. Head to:
- Lobster & More restaurant
Here are some of the best restaurants around Sforzesco and Sempione:
- Al Politico
- Trattoria Torre di Pisa
- Trattoria da Tomaso
- Il Cestino
- Quattro Mori
Aperitivo time? Say no more. We’ve picked the very best bars for your favourite cocktail near Sforzesco.
- Niro Meet Bar
- Bar Aperitivo
- Radio Rooftop Bar
- Chiosco Squadre Calcio
- Barlafus Café Milano
- L’Alter Bar
- Kitsch Bar
You say shopping, we say Milan. Look no further! Milan has all you need, from upscale boutiques to vintage stores and more.
- Slam Jam
- Quore Milano
- The Bridge Boutique
- Massimo Alba
- Madame Pauline Vintage
- Urzi Vintage Selection
- Cape Best
Opening times and ticket prices
Castello Sforzesco is open every day from 07:00 to 19:30, while the museum is open from Monday to Sunday between 09:00 and 17:30.
Entry to the castle is free of charge, while admissions for the museum vary. Adult tickets cost €5, and concessions begin at €3. These reduced rates are available for people aged 18 to 25 and over 65.
Planning to visit Milan’s museums? In that case, you might want to consider purchasing the Tourist Museum Card – valid for three days in all civic museums at the cost of €12.
Travelling to Milan by train?
If you're thinking of taking a trip to Milan, why not travel by train? Getting the train to Milan is easy due to the high-speed rail connections operated by Trenitalia and Italo. You can travel to Milan from some of the most popular cities in Italy, including Florence to Milan (1h 40m), Venice to Milan (2h) and Rome to Milan (2h 52m).
Need more information about travelling to Milan by train? Check out our dedicated page to trains to Milan.