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An impressive piece of 14th-century architecture, the vast Castello Sforzesco fortress in Parco Sempione encircles an arcaded Renaissance courtyard. Its collection of museums exhibit decorative arts, musical instruments and tapestries. Highlights include Michelangelo's emotive Rondanini Pietà.
Epitomising Renaissance Milan in all its glory, the castle was constructed by Francesco Sforza as his residence and military fortress in 1450. Many decorative features were added over the years, but after its abandon, the castle nearly fell victim to an urbanisation scheme calling for its demolition. Luckily the plan was defeated and the building was restored by Luigi Beltrami at the turn of this century, with the new and improved defences designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
The museums contain paintings by Bellini, Tiepolo, Mantegna, Correggio, Titian and Van Dyck. Behind the castle itself is the glorious Parco Sempione park, which provides the perfect backdrop for a wonderful summertime walk, as well as being home to an interesting (if a bit dilapidated) arena that was inaugurated by Napoleon.
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