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Medieval beauty – Sforza Castle and Parco Sempione

A must-see location in Milan is definitely the Sforza Castle, located near the city center and the main attractions like the Duomo and La Scala Opera House. Dating back more than 500 years it represents an important part of the history of this city. It was used as a defense fortress and as a military barracks, and as such was often the target of attacks. It underwent many reconstructions throughout the centuries, the last one being after WorldWar II.

Duomo

01- via flickr by Trey Ratcliff licensed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The castle got its name from the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza who built it in the 15th century. The castle also served as the home of the Sforzasco family that lived and ruled the city during the Renaissance period.

La Scala Opera House

02- via flickr by SAITOR licensed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It survived the French, Spanish and Austrian domination, even though it was alternately destroyed and restored. Finally, in 1900 the it was transformed into a public building that today includes an art gallery, the Museum of Ancient Art, the Egyptian Museum, the Museum of Musical instruments, and a few others. The Museum of Ancient Art displays the last work of Michelangelo, Rondanini Pieta. The ticket costs 5 euro and grants you entrance into each museum, and if you are a university student or older than 65, you don’t have to pay the full price. On Tuesdays, entrance if free for everyone, from 2 – 5.30 pm.

Sforza Castle

03-sforza via flickr by Andrey Manubrium licensed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

However, even if you decide not to go into one of the several civic museums, the fortress itself is worth seeing. It is easily accessible on foot and by bus or tram. It works from early in the morning until 6 pm, except for Mondays. Just outside the castle is also one of Milan’s largest parks, Parco Sempione, where you can go jogging or just sit on the grass, have a picnic and observe the surroundings.

Parco Sempione

04-sforza via flickr by Zé Valdi licensed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The landscaper, Emilio Alemagna deliberately chose the “English garden” look for the park, not typical of other parks in Milan. It’s characterized by winding paths, a lake and sweeps of lawns. There are just so many things you can do here. Sit in one of the bars and admire the nature or walk by the lake and take some pictures. The Civic Aquarium of Milano, built more than a century ago is situated nearby, and features more than 100 types of fish and other aquatic life.

Milan Park

05-sforza via flickr by Roberto La Forgia licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Arco della Pace is worth taking a closer look at, as well as the Arena Civivca, a neoclassical stadium, home to the Amatori Rugby union and the Brera Calcio football club. Many musical performances have been organized here, too. The park features a playground area for children, a roller skating rink and has Wi-Fi coverage.

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