Hi Buzztrippers! Today I am going to suggest you an idea for the weekend that will make you save some money 🙂 I am referring to Miramare, the prestigious residence of Maximilian I of Mexico and Charlotte of Belgium. Located in Trieste, in the charming Grignano headland, and surrounded by a huge park, Miramare represents one of the most romantic and evocative areas of the city.
Why am I proposing you to visit this palace this weekend? Because the visit is free on the first Sunday of every month! As a matter of fact, Miramare is part of an initiative of the Italian Government, aiming at promoting culture and thus guaranteeing free entry in some national museums. I took advantage of this opportunity some months ago, and here you can read something about my visit to Miramare! Ready to be Buzztripped?
Miramare: the origins
This white, impressive palace dates back to the 19th century, when the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian (Franz Joseph’s brother) appointed Carl Junker as the architect of his ambitious project. Maximilian had imagined a perfect fusion between nature and human work, being fond of botany and thus requiring a residence surrounded by a huge park (22 hectares with several tropical species of trees and plants). He was Rear-admiral and Commander of the Austrian fleet; therefore, he loved the idea of having its residence built on the coast.
Unfortunately he could not enjoy this small paradise on earth since he left for Mexico in 1864, before the end of construction works. He actually never came back: after becoming Emperor of Mexico, he was shot by Juarez Republican troops during the civil war. His wife, Charlotte of Belgium, did not endure the shock and suffered from a serious mental breakdown.
Miramare style is inspired by the Romantisches Historismus movement, that proposed Middle-Ages canons and architectural details. In every room of the ground and first floor you can feel Maximilian and Charlotte’s tastes: for example, the bedroom and the archduke office reproduce the cabin and the stern wardroom of the frigate Novara, Maximilian’s beloved ship; the Archduchess room presents a wonderful, elegant blue-silk tapestry; symbols of the Mexican empire can be spotted everywhere; last, but not least, the Throne Room perfectly embodies Habsburg’s power and love for luxury. Briefly, a wonderful evidence of the couple’s desire for a peaceful existence, suddenly disrupted by Mexican bloody civil war.
Miramare and its evolution
After the death of Maximilian and the departure of Charlotte, Miramare still hosted some members of the Habsburg family, but wars completely turned the palace upside down. Furnitures and works of art were temporarily moved to Vienna; in 1930, Miramare was assigned to Duke Amedeo d’Aosta, who lived there until 1937, when he became viceré of Ethiopia. His modern, rational approach to furniture and decorations can easily be observed on the second floor, where he used to live: he installed modern, functional furnishings and provided the building with two lifts, phone lines, neon lighst, running water and central heating.
During Second World War, the palace was used as a German troops’ headquarter, (again, all the furnishings had been removed and the internal aspect completely altered) and then occupied by British and American soldiers. Finally, in 1954 extensive restauration works began: nowadays, Miramare castle is mostly arranged according to the original layout required by the royal couple.
When visiting Miramare, make sure you have time to visit its huge, wonderful park! I truly adored it, admiring its successful combination of Italian/French style, deriving from the Renaissance, and English “artificial wilderness”, typical of the Romantic age. Maximilian’s love for exotic plants and trees can be easily perceived here: cedars from Lebanon, cypresses from Mexico, pines from Asia, and many other non-native plants will build the scenario of your stroll around the park. Sip a coffee in the little coffee-shop closed to the swan’s lake: you will find a real, peaceful oasis a few steps away from Trieste.
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