Il Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle) is a medieval fortress built by the Visconti dynasty that became home to Milan’s ruling Sforza family in 1450. Stark and domineering, the historic brick castle has massive round battlements, an imposing tower overlooking the central courtyard and surrounding Parco Sempione gardens, and defensive walls designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Today the castle houses a number of world-class museums and galleries.
The castle is among the most important cultural sights in Milan, together with the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie—where Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper is located—and the Cathedral. Lines can be long to enter its museums, so book a skip-the-line tour of this vast complex to avoid a delay at the entrance or join a walking tour of the city that includes stops at some of its most famous monuments and a visit to the castle. Certain parts of the castle, including the crenellated ramparts and the covered "Ghirlanda" passage, are only accessible by private tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- If traveling with kids, consider taking a family-friendly tour of the castle and its museums. Kids especially enjoy the Museum of Musical Instruments and surrounding gardens.
- Il Castello Sforzesco is open every day of the week, but the museums inside are closed on Mondays.
- The castle is accessible to visitors with limited mobility.
- Large bags and backpacks must be checked in the cloakroom at the entrance.
How to Get to There
Castello Sforzesco is in Piazza Castello on the edge of central Milano, which can be reached from Piazza del Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II by following Via Dante. The three nearest underground metro stops are Cairoli, Lanza, and Cadorna FN.
When to Get There
The museums offer free admission every Tuesday afternoon and the first Sunday of each month, so they’re very busy during those times. Avoid the hassle of the crowds by visiting on weekdays or Saturday.
Artistic Highlights in the Castello Sforzesco Museums
The Museum of Ancient Art holds a number of statues by Michelangelo, including the famous Pieta Rondanini. Upstairs, the Pinacoteca is home to a collection of paintings by masters including Titian and Bellini, while the adjacent Museum of Applied Arts and Museum of Musical Instruments are also worth a visit. In addition, there are excellent Egyptian and Prehistoric collections in this large museum complex.