Miramare Castle, Trieste Italy

A beautiful dream that was enjoyed for only a short time.

Maximilian and Charlotte

Miramare Castle can be found on an outcrop of land just outside of Trieste. When coming into Trieste by train I always look for it, to me it says you’ve arrived. (Pro hint here, sit on the righthandside of the train going to Trieste and you’ll get a great sea view and also spot Miramare)

View from the train window, Miramare on the headland and the Castelletto (Yellow building between the trees)

I was introduced to Miramare’s original owners Maximilian and Charlotte during my first year of high school in Australia. During an Italian language lesson my teacher said to me “you’re from Trieste you must know the tragic story of Maximilian and Charlotte” (She used the Italian names Massimiliano and Carlotta) I looked blankly at her and went “err no” So she then told the class their story.

Statue of Maximilian in Piazza Venezia, it was placed there after the piazza was renovated a few years back, don't know where the statue was before. It's old and ornate so don't think it was made new especially to be placed in the piazza.

Maximilian was the younger brother of the Emperor Franz Josef of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was offered the emperorship of Mexico, he and Charlotte went to Mexico where the people who supported him to become Emperor were pushed out of power and eventually Maximilian was executed. Charlotte who was the sister of the King of Belgium had returned to Europe to try and get a rescue plan in motion with little success and then Maximilian was executed. She retired first to Miramare and she had a mental breakdown. She then was moved back to her native Belgium and lived in seclusion until she died in 1927 aged 86.

Going back to an earlier part of their story, prior to going to Mexico. Years before Maximilian had been appointed to be in charge of the Austrian navy. (Trieste at the time was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and the major port, the navy was based there) Tradition has it that he was caught in a storm and took shelter in Grignano Bay and decided the rocky outcrop on one side of the bay would be where he would build his residence.
Looking down into Grignano Bay

First the Casteletto (little castle)was built and Maximilian and Charlotte lived there while waiting for the main castle to be built. They were able to move into the lower floor and the upper floors were being furnished when he was offered the position in Mexico and they left. After Maximilian’s death Charlotte moved back into the Casteletto.

The Casteletto (little castle)

Maximilian was very ‘hands-on’ and worked with Carl Junker on the main castle and also the garden designer. The original idea of having a Mediterranean garden didn’t work as Trieste gets a strong cold wind during winter called The Bora. All the trees and shrubs in the park now, were planted during the time of Maximilian before he came it was just a bare rocky outcrop.

The park, none of this vegetation was here before Maximilian, it was a bare rocky outcrop.

The city of Trieste built this road that went along the coast to reach Miramare, Holm Oaks trees were planted and can be seen today.

Gate from the coastal road.

A frequent visitor to Miramare was the Empress Elizabeth, famous Sisi. There’s a picture of her arriving at the Miramare dock and going up the stairs. The dock is also where Maximilian met the delegation offering him the role of Emperor of Mexico, I think there’s a painting of this in the castle. (Not sure since I haven’t been inside for a number of years. But there is a painting!)

Sala Reale at the Trieste train station

The Trieste train station has a ‘regal waiting room’, it was closed for years, but when the station was redeveloped a few years back, it was restored and open to the public. There’s no furniture and it’s mainly a walk way to exit the station to the road at the side of the station. The road that goes along the coast and leads to Miramare.

Statue of Empress Elizabeth in the park infront of the train station. It has her Italian name of Elisabetta.

As World War II ended Miramare became the base for the occupying force, the first to arrive were the New Zealanders and their commander General Freyberg who accepted the German surrender in Trieste. Then the Anglo-American force arrived and stayed until Trieste was returned to Italy in 1954, this plaque infront of the castle commemorates the Americans stay at Miramare.

(After WW2 Trieste was at first proclaimed a Free City and was administered by the Anglo-American Force, the borders were finally settled in 1954, Trieste went back to Italy and Yugoslavia received the parts of Istria they were claiming.)

Back to Miramare pictures.

Found the picture of Empress Elizabeth landing at Miramare and greeting Charlotte, they're standing at the steps from the house, not the long dock. 

Entrance if arriving from the coastal road. The house entrance if you want to see inside.

There's a wisteria arbour circling the upper entrance to the castle, must look superb in spring when the wisteria is in flower.

The garden is divided into different parts. This is the formal garden and at the top is the parterre, which right now is very disappointing. It's been redeveloped, there's a sign saying why the work needed to be done, but 2 years after I saw them ripping up the garden, it's still not finished. There are new paths but the garden bed areas are just weed beds. I hope it does get re-established as it was beautiful.