The park of Miramare, with a surface of 22 hectares, is the result of Maximilian’s long and demanding project on the rocky promontory of Grignano, which originally resembled a Karst area almost devoid of vegetation.
The site was planned and arranged by Carl Junker, though as far as the botanical features were concerned a gardener, Josef Laube, was called in. He was later replaced by Anton Jelinek, a Bohemian who had taken part in the frigate Novara’s expedition around the world.
Large quantities of soil were imported from Styria and Carinthia, and nurserymen mainly from the Lombardy-Veneto region supplied a rich variety of tree and shrub species, many from outside Europe.
Maximilian constantly kept up with the work, which started in spring 1856, and never stopped being interested in his garden even after moving to Mexico, whence he sent back numerous species of trees.
The dominant aspect of the eastern area is “woodland,” in harmony with the orological features of the place: trees alternating with grassy spaces, winding paths, gazebos and ponds recall the romantic principles of the English landscape garden.
The south-west zone, protected from the wind, accommodates geometrically imposed areas, as in the case of the Italian-style garden in front of the “Kaffeehaus,” or the well-arranged flower-beds around the harbour.
The park of Miramare, which in its purchaser’s intentions was to be an experimental centre for reforestation and the acclimatisation of rare botanic species, is a complex at once natural and artificial: even today, when strolling around it you can feel the meaningful atmosphere intimately linked to the life of Maximilian, and at the same time capture the relationship with nature which was characteristic of that age.
The notable features of the park include, in particular: the statues produced by the Berlin firm Moritz Geiss; the greenhouses, with glass partitions opening within the original iron framework; the “Swiss Cottage” which is on the edge of the swan pond; the small square with the cannons donated by Leopold I of Belgium; the Chapel of San Canciano with a wooden crucifix carved from the wood of the warship Novara, dedicated in 1900 to Maximilian by his brother Ludovic-Viktor.