The Sforza family basically ran the city during the Renaissance and their castle is one of the most interesting museums in Milan. The ducal residence, a colossal square-plan redbrick fortress with great towers in each corner and a moat, was commissioned by Francesco Sforza in the 1450s on the foundations of the 14th-century Visconti Castle (Milan’s previous power family).
rnIn 1905 it was given back to the city of Milan after centuries of tumult, including Spanish, Austrian and French rule; it now serves as one of the city’s most important museums (English guides available). In the medieval castle’s great halls, beneath beautiful frescoed ceilings and delicate stained-glass windows, are collections of art and artefacts from Lombardian, Roman, Egyptian, ancient and prehistoric times; most notable is Michelangelo’s unfinished sculpture, the Rondanini Pietà.
rnIdlers can just enjoy the views of this mighty castle and its back garden Parco Sempione (previously the castle’s hunting ground, now Milan’s answer to Central Park); at the west end is Arco della Pace, a splendid neo-classical marble arch designed by Luigi Cagnola in 1807 for Napoleon.