The ornate Miramare Castle north of Trieste was built by the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian. Today it offers its visitors insights into the Habsburg era and relaxing walks in the idyllic castle park.
The magnificent Miramare Castle 5 kilometers northwest of the Italian city of Trieste is perched on a rocky cliff above the bay of Grignano and is one of our top 10 sights of Italy. Miramare Castle was built from 1856 to 1860 on the orders of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian. With its pretty facade of light limestone and its picturesque oriels and turrets, it could almost be Italy's version of the German fairy-tale castle Neuschwanstein.
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Visit of the Miramare Castle
In 1955, the magnificent castle and its park were opened to visitors and since then it has become a popular tourist destination on the Upper Adriatic. In its attractive premises a state museum was established, which shows the original interior of the castle from the time of the Habsburgs, which was restored after the two world wars.
Highlights of the palace tour include the Archduke's Throne Room, the Chinese and Japanese Drawing Rooms, the Seagull Room on the upper floor, and the still richly decorated bedroom of Maximilian and Charlotte. Wandering through the sumptuously furnished rooms, one inevitably feels transported back in time by a century.
Miramare Castle Garden
Also impressive is the 22-hectare garden that surrounds the palace and is home to over 2,000 plant species. Archduke Maximilian wanted to establish a botanical experimental laboratory here and covered the once barren rocky outcrop with a magnificent symbiosis of Italian and English garden design.
The flowerbeds, bordered with boxwood, are juxtaposed with a natural forest landscape and correspond to Maximilian's ideas of a harmonious combination of art and nature.
In addition to Mediterranean flora, exotic representatives of the plant world thrive here, such as gingko and bamboo, which the Duke took home with him from his travels as an admiral in the Austrian Navy. In his admiral's uniform, the archduke can still be seen today in the form of a 9-meter-high bronze statue.
Today, the international nature conservation organization WWF has set up headquarters in the neat little garden house that served as the duke and duchess's home before the palace was completed and later as a prison for the confused Charlotte.
History of the Miramare Castle
Ferdinand Maximilian had the picturesque estate built for himself and his wife Charlotte of Belgium under his strict supervision and constant instructions from architect Carl Junker.
The interior was also furnished exactly according to the ideas of the archducal couple, especially Maximilian, and in many areas reflects his love of the sea. This also gave rise to the name of the palace, as "Miramare" roughly means "destination by the sea".
Nevertheless, the duke did not get much out of his magnificent building. In 1863 he was appointed Emperor of Mexico and the couple left for overseas, having spent less than three years at Miramare Castle.
The furnishings at Miramare were not completed until 1870, after the duke's death, but even Charlotte, who had shown signs of mental confusion, especially since her husband's execution in 1867, never returned to Miramare.
Legacy to the imperial couple Franz and Sissi
The next occupant of the palace was the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, brother of the deceased duke, whose wife Sissi with heir to the throne Rudolf and his spouse Stephanie of Belgium, a niece of Charlotte, stayed at the palace for several years. The last Austrian Emperor Charles I and his wife Zita were also among the distinguished guests of Miramare.
During World War I, the palace's furnishings were moved to safety in Vienna, where they were kept at Schönbrunn Palace and Belvedere Palace. In 1929 Miramare was opened to the public for the first time, but during World War II it was occupied by German troops and used as a headquarters by the Allies.