In the late 19th century, a new architectural style emerged in Brussels that eventually spread to most other parts of Europe.
The designs of Victor Horta were the first Art Nouveau buildings in history and spinoffs of his work popped up in various other places, including Italy.
Here, the movement was referred to as “Stile Liberty” or “Liberty Style” and it was used extensively by Italian architects at the turn of the 20th century.
In this article, you’ll discover some of the most interesting facts about Palazzo Castiglioni, one of the most stunning buildings in Milan.
1. It’s located just northeast of the historical heart of Milan
Palazzo Castiglioni is one of the most notable buildings in the center of Milan. It’s located at Corso Venezia 47 and really stands out from the other buildings here.
Corso Venezia is a major thoroughfare that runs in a northeast direction from the historical heart of the city.
It’s not more than a 2-kilometers (1.2 miles) walk from Milan Cathedral, the magnificent Gothic cathedral that marks the city center.
Other popular attractions in the area are the Modern Art Gallery just to its west and the Pinacoteca di Brera isn’t much further west as well.
2. The palace was named after the businessman who commissioned it
The palace was commissioned by a local Milanese businessman named Ermenegildo Castiglioni. It was completed between 1901 and 1903 to serve as his residence in the heart of the city.
He had a very simple, yet not-so-humble goal with this palace. He wanted to use this structure to show off his wealth.
It’s fair to conclude that he succeeded in building the embodiment of the grandeur of the bourgeoisie at the turn of the century.
3. It was designed by a Milanese Art Nouveau architect
The building was designed by Giuseppe Sommaruga (1867-1917), an Italian architect who learned the trade at the Brera Academy in Milan.
There’s a particular reason why Castiglioni hired this man and that’s because he designed buildings that were revolutionary at the time.
Art Nouveau in the world of architecture first emerged in Brussels where Victor Horta designed the Hôtel Tassel. This was followed by many other townhouses which incorporated open spaces and elements influenced by nature.
The Italian variant of Art Nouveau was the Liberty Style, a type of architecture that featured more elements related to Baroque architecture compared to its Belgian and French counterparts.
4. The house got a peculiar nickname because of to nude female sculptures
The Liberty Style never really catches on in Rome but it did in major cities outside of the Italian capital, including Milan.
The main motif was to develop a unique cultural identity, and these amazing palaces certainly made an impact on the architectural landscape of the city.
The lower part of Palazzo Castiglioni incorporates rusticated elements that resemble natural rock formations.
The upper sections are decorated with sculptural elements that resemble stucco decorations, elements that were popular in Rococo architecture in the 18th century.
The building originally featured two large sculptures. These nudes were intended to serve as allegories of peace and industry.
Designed by the Italian sculptor Ernesto Bazzaro (1859-1937), these artworks were not appreciated by the local population. The palace was mockingly referred to as “Cà di ciapp” or “The Hosue of Buttocks.”
Because of this, the sculptures were moved and now decorate another palace in Milan named “Villa Faccanoni.”
5. Nothing of the original furniture was spared during World War II
The interior was designed to serve as a residence and this obviously means that there was a large amount of furniture inside.
Art Nouveau was a movement in which regular features inside a house such as chairs, tables, and windows, were transformed into artworks.
Although some interior decorations are original, all of the furniture inside the palace was burned as firewood by the Americans at the end of World War II in 1945 and 1946.
6. The Castiglioni family sold the palace to the local trader’s union in the 1960s
The palace hasn’t served as the residence of the Castiglioni family since 1967, the year that they sold it to the Union of Commerce of Milan.
The main reason was that it was hard to maintain and that they had to pay a huge tax to support the construction of the nearby subway in Milan.
Today, the Palestro Subway station is located just a short walk northwest of the palace.
7. It was transformed into an office building but many features were retained
The Unione Commercianti di Milano became the new owner of this building, which had been a protected heritage site in 1957, and decided to radically change its layout.
They had no intention to use it as a residence and transformed the interior in such as way that it could serve as their main office building.
Art Nouveau architecture makes this possible because it already incorporated large open spaces. The only things that remain are the façade, the grand staircase, and the rooms on the first floor.
8. It’s arguably the most beautiful building in the area because of its decorations
What can I say about this building other than it’s one of the most beautiful buildings in Milan?
The level of detail of the decorations on the façade is simply incredible. If you plan to shop on the Corso Buenos Aires, a major shopping street in the city, then you’ll come across it.
The Porta Venezia separates both avenues and isn’t too far northeast. You won’t be able to miss this stunning building and its remarkable ornamentations.