Maximilian of Habsburg, brother of Emperor Franz Josef and the retired commander of the Austrian Navy, built this seafront extravaganza between 1856 and 1860, complete with a throne room under wooden ceiling in the shape of a ship's keel. In keeping with late 19th-century taste, the rooms are generally furnished with elaborate, somewhat ponderous copies of medieval, Renaissance, and French period furniture, and the walls are covered in red damask. Maximilian's retirement was interrupted in 1864, when he became emperor of Mexico at the initiative of Napoléon III. He was executed three years later by a Mexican firing squad. His wife, Charlotte of Belgium, went mad and returned to Miramar, and later to her native country. During the last years of the Habsburg reign, Miramar became one of the favorite residences of Franz Josef's wife, the Empress Elizabeth (Sissi). The castle was later owned by Duke Amadeo of Aosta, who renovated some rooms in the rationalist style and installed modern plumbing in his Art Deco bathroom. Tours in English are available by reservation. Surrounding the castle is a 54-acre park, partly wooded and partly sculpted into attractive gardens.
Viale Miramare, off SS14, Trieste, Friuli Venezia Giulia, 34135, Italy