The Castle of Miramare in Trieste seems to look over the Adriatic Sea, leaning over from the cape where Austrian archduke and imperial prince Ferdinand Maximilian of the House of Habsburg had it built between 1856 and 1860.
A seafaring man, Maximilian was rear admiral and commander of the Austrian Navy. His craving for glory would lead to him to a tragic destiny on the other side of the Ocean, in Mexico. But at the castle he was happy to simply have a view of the sea, over the Gulf of Trieste, that he could enjoy with his wife, princess Charlotte of Belgium.
“Ah, how all nature smiled on that fair morn
Of April when, his lovely dame beside,
Forth came the fair-haired Emperor, to sail
For distant shores.”
With these verses the Italian poet Giosue Carducci immortalized the royal couple. Maximilian had each room of the castle furnished with the finest pieces, had a smaller castle built – the ‘castelletto’ –, and commissioned paintings from Cesare Dell’Acqua. He chose a lavish variety of plants for the castle’s garden, importing many of them from outside Europe. Trees and lawns, winding walkways, gazebos, and ponds complement the geometric beauty of a gorgeous Italian garden, in a park that is further enriched by greenhouses and sculptures.
The archduke wanted this place to embody his dream of beauty. And today that dream is clear for all to see.