Milan might be Italy’s most prosperous and modern city but it boasts several impressive historical sights. This includes the massive Duomo cathedral, Sforza Castle or Castello Sforzesco, and the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, a 1,600-year-old Roman church.
Sforza Castle is a handsome brownish-red castle that was built in the 15th century by the Duke of Milan that was one of Europe’s largest citadels at one point. Also, the great Leonardo da Vinci decorated part of the interior. It boasts a central tower that looms high above the walls of the castle, which is built in a quadrangular shape. Inside, the castle is divided into three courtyards, the main one, and the smaller Ducale and Rocchetta.
Nowadays, the castle houses several connected museums that feature paintings, medieval weapons, musical instruments, tapestries, antique furniture, prehistoric artifacts, and even Egyptian artifacts. It is an impressive diverse collection of exhibits that lets you explore the castle, while appreciating great art and artifacts and learning about Milanese history. Even if these museums weren’t in this castle, they would be worth checking out.
The castle is also used as venue for events like a vintage car show that was going on when I visited. The castle is in Sempione Park, that also features an aquarium and a modern museum. Needless to say, it is a place you should visit if you’re in Milan.
Built in 379–386, the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio is a Roman-era church that is also brownish-red, similar to Sforza Castle. As befitting one of Milan’s main churches, the basilica is quite elegant with a smooth exterior, which again is similar to Sforza Castle. It features a triangular roof and a portico with arches with an enclosed open courtyard in front of it, flanked by two bell towers on either side. The shorter tower was built in the 9th century while the other one was built in the mid-12th century.
Inside, the crypt features the remains of three saints – Ambrose, who the church is named after, Gervasus and Protasus.
How to get there: For Sforza Castle, get off at Cairoli Castello subway station on the Red Line or Lanza station on the Green Line.
For Basilica of Sant’Ambroglio, get off at S. Ambrogio subway station on the Green Line.
Magnificent equestrian funeral monument of Bernabò Visconti, Lord of Milan, who died in 1385
Funeral effigy of Gaston de Foix, nephew of the French King Francisco I who died in a war between France and Milan for control of the city in the 16th century
Italian guitar with dual Neapolitan mandolinis
One of the antique cars on display at a show on the castle grounds
Basilica of Sant’Ambroglio