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THE CASTLE AND THE "FORO BONAPARTE"

demolition of the Spanish fortifications The Austrian domination lasted until the Unification of Italy, except for a short period under Napoleon, which marked an important stage in the history of Milan. Austrian archduke Ferdinand fled away on May 9 1796. Just 2,000 soldiers disposing of 152 cannons, 3,000 quintals of gunpowder, 11,000 guns and about a hundred bovines remained to protect the castle. At first, the Austrian garrison led by lieutenant Lamy managed to ward off the attack of a group of Milanese citizens supporting France. But then the castle was besieged by the French army after Napoleon had entered Milan on May 15 1796. End of June, the castle fell under French rule. Napoleon decided to restore the old fortress and to destine it for defensive purposes and for hosting as much as 4,000 soldiers. Meanwhile, Milanese fanatics subscribed a petition asking to destroy what remained of the old tyranny. Thankfully, the danger of loosing the castle was avoided. In April 1799, Milan went to the Austrian and Russian. Once more, the castle was besieged.

the Foro Bonaparte On June 14 1800, Napoleon defeated the Austrian army in Marengo. Milan was proclaimed capital of the Cisalpine Republic. Again, the castle was used as a barracks and was further damaged. The Ducal Chapel was transformed into a stable, the Ducal Apartments used as a dormitory and the frescos painted during the Sforza period were covered in lime. At the beginning of the 19th century, the population exulted as the old Spanish ramparts were demolished. Great architects such as Luigi Canonica and Giovanni Antolini were called in to redesign the big area in front of the deteriorated Sforza Castle. Antolini designed a circular square with a diameter of about 570 meters. In it were classic-design public buildings (e.g. the Pantheon, the National Museum). Around it were arcades with warehouses, stores and private buildings. This square was named Foro Bonaparte. In the middle of the Foro survived the Sforza Castle, which became the residence of the Government. On one side, the Foro Bonaparte faced the city. The other side opened on a big square in the way to Parco Sempione and Paris. However, after April 1801, the project was set aside and the whole area underwent gradual changes, which led to transform it into a vast square (700x700 meters) called Piazza d'Armi.

The Castle historical background



Castello Sforzesco - Piazza Castello   20121 MILAN