Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria, also known as Maximilian of Hapsburg, was Imperial prince, Archduke of Austria and Emperor of Mexico. Fascinated by the navy, he got a fast-tracked career to be soon at the highest ranks as Navy officer, focusing on developing Trieste port and strengthening the Hapsburg fleet. He was also named Governor of the Venetia-Lombardy Kingdom and on July 27, 1857 he married Charlotte (Belgian King’s daughter). In 1857, together they retired to private life mainly in Trieste where they built the Miramar castle.
Maximilian was struck by the tough, untamed beauty of Grignano promontory, a sheer Karst outcrop overlooking the sea and almost with no vegetation, and he bought several plots of land at the end of 1855. The laying of the first stone was on March 1st, 1856 and at Christmas eve in 1860, when the external part was completed, Maximilian and Charlotte moved in on the ground floor of the castle. The castle was designed by the Austrian architect Carl Junker in eclectic style, with elements from three different architectures – gothic, mediaeval and renaissance. Moreover, the Mexico Emperor wanted the nature to have a big role on the promontory, hence he surrounded the castle with wonderful gardens and plants.