Trieste’s Castle Miramare is one of its main tourist attractions, suggestively perched on the rocky coastline of Grignano, surrounded by a wonderful botanical park, and overlooking the Gulf of Trieste
Ferdinand Maximilian, the younger brother of the Austrian emperor Francis Joseph I was a serving officer in the Austrian navy and was instrumental in building up the fleet based at Trieste. Little wonder, then, that in 1859, after falling out of favour with his brother the Emporor Francis Joseph, he would choose to have his residence built in Trieste with a magnificent sea view. Castello Miramare was built.
Legend suggests that the Archduke Ferdinand chose the location for his castle when he was caught in a storm at sea, in the gulf of Trieste, and found shelter at Grignana. The castle was designed in 1856 by Carl Junker, an Austrian architect, and partially finished by 1860.
Ironically, Ferdinand and his wife Charlotte, in arrangement with Napoleon III, took up the offer to become the first Emporor of Mexico, leaving behind his specially designed castle before its completion (in 1864). It was an ill-fated move, as Emporor Maximillian I of mexico ended up being shot by rebels in 1867. Carlotta, his wife had returned a year previously to raise support for her husband from the European powers (in vain). She retired, heartbroken to Castello Miramare in Trieste.
Today, visiting the castle you can get to wander the extensive grounds, view the wonderful mix of architectural styles (Gothic, Medieval and Renaissance models), and view rooms like the extraordinary Sala Novara, which was built to resemble the stern of the boat the Novara, on which the Archduke had served. Also on view you can see the magnificent wedding bed, gifted to the Archduke and his wife by Pope Pius IX (though never slept in).
The Castle Miramare has been exquisitely preserved, and is one of the few remaining sites where you can get a taste of how the 19th Century European monarchy lived.
Note that the castle and park opening hours are not the same.
9 am – 7 pm every day throughout the year (ticket office closes at 6.30 pm)
Closed 25 December 1 January
From November to February, from 4 pm and in March and October, from 5 pm, the Castle can be reached only through the main entrance (sea front – “Viale Miramare”).