Miramare Castle was built for the younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph, Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg. As Rear Admiral of the Habsburg Navy, he chose Trieste/Trst as his residence. The name Miramare comes from the Spanish phrase “mirar el mar” (to look at the sea). The foundation stone was laid in 1856, and four years later Maximilian and his wife, the Belgian Princess Charlotte, already moved to the ground floor of the castle. The exterior had already been completed by that time, while works inside the castle continued. Unfortunately, the client did not live to see their completion.
In 1863, Maximilian accepted the offer from the Emperor Napoleon III of France to take the Mexican throne. He renounced the right of inheritance in the Habsburg House. A year later, he and Charlotte sailed off to Mexico where they met with a chilly reception and a long civil war followed. Charlotte later returned to Europe and sought help from Napoleon III and Pope Pius IX but to no avail. Despair drove her to an incurable mental disorder. Due to her poor state of mind, she was not told for several months that Mexican Republicans had captured and shot her husband (19 June 1867). After Charlotte learned the news, her condition got worse and her relatives moved her from Miramare to Bouchoutte Castle near Brussels. She lived there until her death in 1927.
Maximilian’s dead body was transported to Miramare/Miramar aboard the frigate Novara in 1868, and from there it was taken to the Capuchin Church in Vienna.
Miramare Castle was believed to be under a spell, since, in addition to Maximilian, several guests of the castle died abroad (Amedeo of Savoy, Empress Elisabeth (Sissi), Archduke Franz Ferdinand).
The castle with a façade of white Istrian stone is surrounded by a wonderful park covering an area of 22 hectares. There are many exotic plants in the park which Maximilian brought from his numerous travels. Many tropical butterflies and birds can be seen in the greenhouse. In 1986, the sea area around the castle was declared Nature Marine Reserve (Area Marina Protetta di Miramare).