Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Milan, Italy : Castello Sforzesco

I'm always game to go see a Castle. They tend to be romantic in their construction with tons of very interesting details. This one, however, is more fortress than castle. To be honest, it has been built and torn down and rebuilt so many times by so many powers that what it may have been in the 15th Century is almost lost. However, it was still very interesting to see and learn about the defenses of this fortress.
 The Castle is located at the center of a beautiful park. It was fairly empty as we began our tour but when we came back outside the park was getting quite crowded. I think it's an evening gathering place for the local neighborhood.
 The most romantic part of this fortress is the moat. Now a dry or "dead" moat it is covered in gorgeous emerald grass and, if you chose, you could picnic there.
 The holes in the walls were confusing at first but later on we were to find out their purpose. This photo is deceiving because it makes them look quite small when in fact they were about 4x4 inch squares.
 This gives you a better idea of their size. They were used to climb the walls. Soldiers would have these poles and they would stick them in the wall above their heads and climb up them...then remove the poles and continue on up. The advantage was that they could get very high up very quickly but others couldn't follow them.
 These arches are actually tunnels up into the fortress.
 The statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi guards the actual entrance. He was an Italian General as well as a politician and is considered on of Italy's "fathers of the fatherland".
 As you walk into the fortress you find yourself inside a huge courtyard. From here you start to understand the construction of the space.
 At one time 4,000 soldiers were stationed here and up to 1,500 of those were mounted soldiers. Imagine this courtyard filled with them!
 While the castle has been damaged and rebuilt over the centuries, lots of remnants of the castle from the 15th century still exist.
 Around the castle the neighborhood reflects the other dominating nations that once occupied Milan but the most prevalent was France. Only some of the Italian details, such as these arched windows, remain.
 Napoleon found the castle to be too pretty to be destroyed so he actually headed a movement to restore it back to it's former glory.
 But restoring the castle was, in the end, his undoing. Once the Milanese reached out for help from other nations and they were able to overtake the fortress Bonaparte didn't have a chance.
 Murals, such as this one, were painted over with limestone during the many occupations. When the Milanese people took the castle back over they were able to restore them. This archway leads into the private apartment section of the castle.
 From the brick of the courtyard and castle facade you feel the difference of the private apartments beginning with this ceiling mural inside the archway hall leading to the inner courtyard.
 These are now offices but once these windows were to the private rooms of the Duke's who lived here and, later, the occupied forces and their officers.
Once restored in 1861, the Castello Sforzesco became a beautiful place to visit, a home for the arts, and a tourist destination. Considered second only to the Duomo of Milano, this spot is one of the "must-see" destinations in Milan.

Next week we'll head off to Venice for it's own three part series! See you then!

Cat

2 comments:

  1. I was there 2 years back and do agree with that it was still very interesting to see and learn about the defenses of this fortress. Kudos to you!
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  2. I visited the castle today and was confused as to what the holes were for. I assumed it was for shooting arrows but that didn't seem right. Good to know it was for climbing! Thanks for the interesting read!

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