Across Europe with Empress Sisi
Even in her day, men and women equally raved about the beauty of Elisabeth. The empress worked hard to achieve this. One to two hours a day were spent on hair care alone. Until her old age she had a wasp waist measuring 50 centimetres (19.6 inches) in circumference.
Sisi, who grew up in Munich, spent the happiest days of her childhood at Lake Starnberg at her parents' summer residence. While Possenhofen Palace can only be visited from the outside, the Roseninsel (where Sisi met with her cousin, the "fairytale king" Ludwig II) and the museum in the historical waiting room of Possenhofen station offer ample opportunity to follow in the footsteps of young Sisi.
In the imperial summer residence of Bad Ischl, 15-year-old Elisabeth met Austrian Emperor Franz Josef for the first time. Her engagement to him in 1853 was the first turning point in her life. 100 years later, the Emperor's villa becomes the setting for some scenes from the famous German "Sissi" films starring Romy Schneider. The script glorified and falsified many things - not least Sisi's name.
After the wedding, the strict court rituals and a mother-in-law who interfered in raising her children soon made Sisi's life in the Hofburg unbearable. In the rooms next to the imperial apartments, the Sisi Museum now sheds light on the myth of Sisi - with personal objects such as her clothes, her furniture, her first-aid kit and her death mask. A must for all Sisi fans!
Travelling became the empress's elixir for life. Far away from the Viennese court she could relax. For example in Miramare Castle on the Adriatic coast near Trieste. Elisabeth stayed here 14 times on her travels across the Mediterranean, sometimes with Emperor Franz. The oysters, which Sisi enjoyed, are cultivated today in the Gulf of Trieste, just as they were in the Habsburg era.
On June 8, 1867 Franz Joseph and Elisabeth were crowned King and Queen of Hungary in Budapest. In the following years she repeatedly visited Gödöllő Palace, a gift from the "Hungarian people" to the royal couple. At Gödöllő, Sisi pursued her favorite pastime extensively, horse riding. And made politics: She successfully fought for Hungary's internal independence.
Sisi loved this Mediterranean island since her health spa stay on Corfu in 1860. After the suicide of her son in 1889, she sought solace on long walks and boat trips. The best place to be close to Sisi is the "Achilleion", the white marble palace that she had built as her retirement home. In the garden, sculptures remember the heroic sagas of Greek poet Homer, who inspired Sisi.
Elisabeth became an immortal legend when she was murdered on September 10, 1898 during a visit to Switzerland. Anarchist Luigi Lucheni stabbed the Empress in the heart with a file while she was walking along the shores of Lake Geneva. The empress's former suite at the Hotel Beau Rivage still contains a number of memorabilia, such as a blood-stained silk ribbon.
The Empress's body was transported to Vienna in an ice-filled coffin in her saloon car and buried seven days after the assassination in the Vienna Capuchin crypt. While the hearts of most Habsburg rulers were removed and buried in the Augustinian Church in Herzgrüftl, Sisi's body rests entirely in the coffin. Her last wish to be buried in Corfu remained unfulfilled.
Elisabeth's body was transported to the Capuchin crypt in this ornately decorated hearse. It can be seen in the carriage house at Schönbrunn Palace, which once again traces the empress's life: from the train of her wedding dress to the golden carriage she used at the coronation in Hungary all the way to her riding saddle.