Sforza Castle

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The original construction on the site began in the 14th century. In 1450, Francesco Sforza began reconstruction of the castle, and it was further modified by later generations. A number of these rooms originally had elaborate internal decoration - the best known of these being the Sala Delle Asse with surviving ceiling paintings by Leonardo da Vinci.

After the French victory in the 1515 Battle of Marignano, the defeated Massimiliano Sforza, his Swiss mercenaries and the cardinal-bishop of Sion retreated into the Castello Sforzesco. However, King Francis I of France followed them into Milan, and his sappers placed mines under the castle's foundations, whereupon the defenders submitted.

Under the Spanish domination, the castle was developed: between 15th and 16th century, was protected by 1000 to 3000 men, and was one of the biggest citadels in Europe; a huge star fort was built, with 12 bastions. The external fortifications reached 3 km in length and covered an area of 25,9 hectares.

After the unification of Italy in the 19th century, the restoration of the castle was started following its transfer from military use to the city of Milan. The restoration work was directed by Luca Beltrami. The central Filarete tower above the main city entrance was rebuilt between 1900 and 1905 as a monument to King Umberto I.

The castle was severely damaged as a result of the allied bombardment of Milan in 1943 during World War II. The post-war reconstruction of the building for museum purposes was undertaken by the BBPR architectural partnership.

The best known of the current civic museums is the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco,[citation needed] with an art collection which includes Michelangelo's last sculpture, the Rondanini Pietà, Andrea Mantegna's Trivulzio Madonna and Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Trivulzianus manuscript.

The Castello complex also includes 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.
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