In the Italian city of Milan there is a castleSforza, whose dramatic centuries-old history is associated with ups and downs, destruction and restoration. Thanks to the efforts of Italian restorers and architects today anyone can admire the ancient towers and fortress walls, stroll around the castle.
Like many other architectural monuments,Castello Sforzesco, as the Italians call it, stands on the site of quite ancient buildings. The very first defensive structure was erected here in the fourteenth century by the Visconti family, who for a long time managed to take power in Milan into their own hands, and subsequently subjugate most of the nearby cities.
Jan Galeazzo I Visconti has managed not onlyextend its influence to such cities in central Italy as Siena and Pisa, but also to buy for themselves and their heirs the ducal title. His descendants could not add new lands to the Duchy of Milan. As a result of many military conflicts with Venice in the beginning of the XV century, Milan, city-state, lost many conquered territories.
After the death in 1447 of the last representative of the family Visconti - Duke Filippo Maria - the rebellious inhabitants of the city proclaimed the Ambrosian Republic and dismantled the castle of the hated rulers.
But here further business at this republic wentrather badly, and as a result of the military actions of the Venetians, Milan lost a significant part of its territories. Residents of the city began to look for a strong leader and invited a military mercenary Francesco Sforza, who had previously served with Visconti and became related to this family. In 1450, the Senate of Milan presented him with a ducal title. In the same year, Francesco Sforza began to build his Milan castle, conceived as an elegant and luxurious ducal residence, but also as a powerful defensive structure. To realize this idea, architects such as Antonio Filarete, Bartolomeo Gadio, Marcoleone da Nogarolo, Jacopo da Cortona and many others were invited. Under the leadership of the first of them was built a central tower, but for the construction of massive defensive walls and four corner defensive towers was responsible Bartolomeo Gadio.
In 1446 Francesco Sforza died andMilan became his eldest son - Galeazzo Maria (Galeazzo Maria Sforza). With it, the castle of Sforza continues to evolve, and for construction works the new duke signs out to Milan architects and masters from Florence. After the murder of Galeazzo in 1467, his wife Bona of Savoy, striving to protect herself, builds a high for those times tower Bona - Torre di Bona in Rochetta - the most protected part of the castle.
Coming to power in 1494, Ludovico MariaSforza continues to rebuild the Sforza Castle in Milan and invites for this the best Italian masters - Bramante, who became the author of many architectural and decorative elements, and Leonardo da Vinci, who worked on defensive structures and created a series of frescoes.
In 1500, during one of the Italian wars between the Empire and France, the troops of King Louis XII entered Milan and captured Ludovico Sforza. He was taken to France, where he died.
Serious damage to the castle of Sforza was in 1521, when the central tower of Filaret, used at that time as an ammunition depot, struck by lightning.
The Spanish, who owned Milan in the middle of the XVI century,significantly modernized the castle. They built around the old walls new modern fortifications in the form of a six-pointed star, the area of which was approximately 26 hectares. The city governor moved to the Royal Palace, and a military garrison is located in the castle. After the crushing defeat of the troops of King Francis I of Pavia, thanks to the support of the emperor and the Spanish King Charles V, the Sforza family returns to power. The Duke of Milan becomes Francesco II.
After his death in 1534, Francesco II MariaSforza, the Austrian empire of the Habsburgs annexes the Milanese duchy and appoints the governor to govern it. During the rule of the Austrians, Sforza's castle was used as a weapons warehouse and a soldier's barracks. Part of the buildings on its territory was restored or rebuilt. The most notable trace of the Habsburg period is the statue of Jan Nepomuk, established on the bridgehead.
After Napoleon Bonaparte invaded in 1796year in Italy, Austria, concluded a peace agreement in Campo Formio, had to abandon Lombardy. General Bonaparte chose Milan as his city of residence for five years: from 1796 to 1801. Despite the petitions of the townspeople, who demanded to completely demolish the castle, Napoleon orders to carry out the restoration work there. Before the defeat of the French troops in 1814, Milan will be the capital of various states created in Italy by Napoleon.
As a result of the pan-European conference inVienna, the city once again moved into the Austrian possession and became the center of the new Lombardo-Venetian kingdom. In 1848, during the Five Milan days, when the insurgents fought for independence from the Austrian invaders, the cannon of the castle of Sforza beat Milan. The uprising was suppressed, and all its members were arrested and imprisoned in jail cells.
In 1859, the Austrians left Lombardy, and the locals seized and plundered the castle, after which it came to desolation.
Many residents of Milan at the end of the XIX century demandeddestroy this castle in Italy, wipe it off the face of the earth and erect something more useful in its place, for example, an elite residential quarter. Fortunately, they decided not to demolish the fortress, but, on the contrary, to restore it. The restoration of the castle in 1893 began the architect Luca Beltrami, who sought to recreate the historical appearance of the buildings of the reign of Sforza. In 1905 the restored tower of Filarete was opened, and on the other side of the castle Sempione Park was laid.
During the bombings of the Second World War sufferedmany architectural monuments, including Castello Sforzesco, especially Rochetta. By the end of the fifties of the last century the castle was restored and opened for visits.
The last change in the appearance of the fortressbecame a large fountain on its inner square, nicknamed the Milanese "Wedding Cake" and built to replace the old, demolished during the construction of the underground in the 60s of the XX century.
The modern Sforza Castle is a buildingThe square shape, in the center of which is the area delle Armi. It is surrounded by massive walls, and the central gate is built in the form of a square multi-tiered tower - Filaret, which once served as a prototype of the Spassky Tower in the Moscow Kremlin. To the right and to the left of it there are corner round towers - di Santo Spirito and dei Carmini.
Passing through the main entrance in the tower of Filaret, wewe find ourselves on the Piazza delle Armi and can see the tower located on the site of the gate of Porta Giovia. To her right are the ducal chambers, and to the left - the most fortified part of the castle - Rochetta. It has its own small patio, as well as two fairly tall towers: the Torre Castellana (Castle) and the Tower of Bona Savoy. On the ground floor of the Torre Castellana is a treasury where you can see the surviving frescos of Bramantino.
Inside the ducal apartments there is a small area surrounded by a portico known today as Portico dell'Elefante, named because of a fresco depicting this animal.
Arriving in ancient Milan, the sights on the map that you would like to visit, you can study endlessly.
But it is necessary to choose the castle of Sforza: this is a historical monument, as well as a place where many museums are concentrated. Among them - an art gallery, the Museum of Ancient Art, a collection of musical instruments, a collection of medieval tapestries and many other exhibitions. Free of charge after going to the castle, you can buy a single ticket to visit all the museums or separately for each exposition of interest to you.