the magnificent palace of sissy, the sad empress1

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  • Pe insula Kerkira (Corfu) mprteasa Sissi (Elisabeta, soia lui Franz Iosif I) i-a construit n anul 1890 un loc de refugiu, palatul Achilleion

  • Elisabeta de Wittelsbach (1837-1898), soia mpratului Franz Iosif I (1830-1916) a murit la Geneva, asasinat de un anarhist italianmprteasa trist cum a fost numit de biografi, s-a refugiat n Corfu dup moartea fiului su, Rudolf (drama de la Mayerling)

  • Influenat de Iliada mprteasa Sissi i-a botezat vila, construit de doi dintre cei mai renumii arhiteci din Neapole, Achilleion

  • Construit n stil neo-clasic, vila este impresionant dar prea ncrcat. La parter, n suita de ncperi n stil pompeian se afl obiecte ale mprtesei.

  • n dreapta intrrii, o mic capel decorat cu picturi murale i statui

  • Printre numeroasele statui sunt reprezentai i Lordul Byron i curtezana Phryn

  • Fotografii: Gabriela Cristescu Dinu Bnescu

    Prezentare: Sanda FoioreanuMuzic: Maria Farantouri - To oniro kapnos Sirtaki compus de M Theodorakis

    *The Palace was built in the 1890's as a summer palace for "Sissi", Austria's Empress Elizabeth (King Otto of Greece was her uncle)*ACHILLION The Palace, located in the village of Gastouri, was erected in 1890 for Elizabeth (Sissy), the Empress of Austria as the solace of her soul. It was used as her summer retreat. Later the Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany bought the Palace. Directly below, on the coast, is the unusual Kaisers bridge, the stone built jetty where the Kaiser set out on his yacht for swimming trips. The Palace is definitely a place to take your camera. This beautiful building in picturesque gardens overlooks the sea and Corfu town. Famous to the British public as the birthplace of Prince Phillip, Achillion Palace is one of the most popular tourist destinations on Corfu.*The palace is famous as it was owned by both the Empress Sissi of Austria and Willi of Germany. Sissi built the palace to escape the tragedies of her life, Willi purchased it after her assassination, but the war of his making, never allowed him to enjoy its fruits as it was confiscated after the war. Sissi first purchased the palace, situated on top of a hill looking out to sea, when it was known as the "villa vrailla". She then passed the construction of a suitable residence over to Baron von Bukovitz. It was almost a miniature of a royal palace from, Vienna. It was built in the Neo-classical style and used other styles such as Greek, Pompeian and Romanic. She brought to the palace many artists who were commissioned to paint beautiful frescoes.*It was at Achillion where the Empress could escape the suffocating atmosphere of the court in Vienna and hated leaving the palace and would often delay her departures.*She visited Achillion twice per year usually in the cooler months of spring and autumn. She spent long hours walking around the area, talking to the local peasants for whom she built a well when the nearby village was hit by drought. A plague was erected in her honor which is still there today. *On her last visit to the palace the large looking mirror in her room ominously cracked and she remarked to her madly in waiting that this would be the last time she would ever visit the palace. *After her assassination by Luigi Luccheni, the palace was left empty for 9 lonely years, under the possession of Elizabeths daughter Maria Valerie. It was left under the care of Ferdinand Bontempo, an officer from the royal yacht Miramare, who had received special instructions from the emperor Franz Joseph to retain the palace.

    *A buyer for the palace was eventually found in the form of Kaiser William II. He had previously visited Corfu in 1905 and was welcomed to Mon Repos by his sisters father-in-law George 1. It was his sister Sophie who suggested that he buy the palace so they could spend more time together. This was realized after 2 years.*As the new owner, he made several additions, including moving Sissi's much beloved statue of Achillion to a different position to be replaced by the new huge Achillion giant, made from iron, which the tip of the spear covered in gold so it would glint out to the fisherman in the sea. This suited his domineering personality. *His taste for glamorous gardens led him to invite many renowned gardeners to the palace to reconstruct the over grown gardens. He filled them with exotic plants and statues. He even moved Elizabeth's favorite statue of the poet Heine to the forest below the palace. *His trips to the palace were mainly in the Easter in time for the celebrations. Willi also helped in archaeological digs near the area. It was here that the Kaiser could relax in private surrounded by his family. His daughter Victoria-Louise even dressed in local dress.

    *However, the palace met a sad fate in the war. It was taken over by French and Serbian forces which turned the palace into their HQ. They did not hold much respect for the home of the enemy and vandalized the palace. Achillion would never again bask in the glory of its former years. *The Kaiser was destined never to see his palace again.*Following Versailles the palace became the property of the Greek state. Many of its contents were auctioned and are now scattered around the globe.*The palace almost became a ruin, but was rescued from this state of repair when in 1962, the upper floors were turned into a casino by a German company, with the ground floor becoming a museum. The president of the company baron Ricgoffen was a famous art collector and remained many of Achillion's treasures. *The casino has now been moved to the nearby Hilton hotel and the palace has become a museum. The palace was even featured in the bond film "For your eyes only".*Corfu Achillion Palace: The Achillion Palace is ideally located in the picturesque village of Gastouri. This magnificent Palace was built in 1890 exclusively for Elizabeth (Sissy), the then Empress of Austria. The palace used to serve as the summer retreat of the Empress. Unfortunately, Sissy the Empress passed away in a rather tragic manner when she was brutally assassinated in 1898 in Geneva and the palace was deserted till the year 1907 when it was bought by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.*The palace is located in a place of mesmerizing beauty with the c Corfu coast down below, which still has the jetty from where the Kaiser would embark on his pleasure cruises. The Palace is not only renowned for its classical features. The impeccably landscaped palace garden is absolutely top class and makes for a picture perfect setting. Legend has it that the Empress fell in love with Corfu, so much so that she ultimately decided to build a residence that she could call her own. The palace is located at the spot where the manor of the renowned philosopher Petros Armenis Vrailas stood.

    *The palace has a sentimental attachment to the tourists from England for being the birthplace of their adorable Prince Phillip. Empress Sissi was captivated and awestruck by ancient Greek legends and mythology. Her favorite was Achilles on whose honor she dedicated the palace. The Palace garden is replete with rather artistically sculpted statues of the pantheon of Greek Gods and Goddesses that makes for a truly mythical setting.*During the time when the palace was occupied by the Kaiser, he is said to have removed the magnificent statues of Achilles and additionally constructed the House of the Knights with the sole reason of housing his battalion on Corfu. Even the palace garden was relandscaped according to the whims and fancies of the Kaiser. The palace was given the status of a Public building after World War II. Visitors to the palace can marvel at the exquisite mural positioned right at the reception enclosure which rather artistically portrays Achilles carrying the dead body of Hector. The popularity of the Achillion Palace can be gauged from the fact that the much hyped James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only was shot at this magnificent palace and Ionian Corfu -*Elisabeth of Bavaria (24 December 1837 10 September 1898) was Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary as the spouse of Franz Joseph I. As such, she held also the titles Queen of Bohemia, Queen of Croatia and others. From an early age, she was called Sisi by family and friends (not "Sissi" as in the film or in the animated series).While Elisabeth had limited influence on Austro-Hungarian politics, she has become a historical icon. Elisabeth is considered to have been a non-conformist who abhorred conventional court protocol and at the same time a tragic figure; she has inspired filmmakers and theatrical producers alike.

    *Elisabeth was born in Munich, Bavaria as Duchess Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie in Bavaria. She was the fourth child of Duke Maximilian Joseph in Bavaria and her mother was Princess Ludovika of Bavaria. Her family home was Possenhofen Castle.In 1853 Elisabeth accompanied her mother and her 18-year-old sister, Duchess Helene, on a trip to the resort of Bad Ischl, Upper Austria. Her mother hoped Helene would attract the attention of their maternal first cousin, 23-year-old Francis Joseph, then Emperor of Austria. Instead, Franz Joseph chose the 15-year old Elisabeth, and the couple were married a year later in Vienna at St. Augustine's Church on 24 April 1854.

    *Rococo style room*At sixteen years old, Elisabeth had difficulty adapting to the strict etiquette practiced at the Habsburg court. She bore the emperor three children in quick succession: Archduchess Sophie of Austria (18551857), Archduchess Gisela of Austria (18561932), and the hoped-for crown prince, Rudolf (18581889). In 1857, tragedy struck. Elisabeth, against the advice of the doctors, took her two daughters on a vacation in Hungary. Both girls were ill with diarrhea, but while Gisela recovered quickly, her older sister Sophie succumbed to the disease and died; she was two. Her firstborn's death would haunt Elisabeth for the rest of her life and cause a permanent rift between her and her husband, which would gradually grow wider as their marriage slowly collapsed. In 1860, Elisabeth left Vienna after contracting a lung disease, later believed to be psychosomatic. She spent the winter in Madeira and returned to Vienna only after having visited the Ionian Islands. Soon after that she fell ill again and returned to Corfu.*In 1867, national unrest within the Habsburg monarchy caused by the rebellious Hungarians led to the founding of the AustroHungarian double monarchy. Elisabeth had always sympathized with the Hungarian cause. Reconciled and reunited with her alienated husband, she joined Franz Joseph in Budapest, where their coronation took place. Following the imperial couple's reconciliation, Elisabeth gave birth to their fourth child, Archduchess Marie Valerie (18681924). Afterwards, she took up her former life of restlessly travelling through Europe. Elisabeth was denied any major influence on her older children's upbringing; they were raised by her mother-in-law and aunt Princess Sophie of Bavaria, who often referred to Elisabeth as a "silly young mother*Elisabeth embarked on a life of travel, and saw little of her offspring. She visited such locations as Madeira, Hungary, England and Corfu. At Corfu, after her son's death, she commissioned the building of a palace which she named the Achilleion, after Homer's hero Achilles in The Iliad. After her death, the building was purchased by German Emperor Wilhelm II. Later it was acquired by the nation of Greece and converted to a museum.She became known not only for her beauty. Newspapers published articles on her fashion sense, diet and exercise regimens, passion for riding sports, and a series of reputed lovers. She paid extreme attention to her appearance and spent much time preserving her beauty. She often shopped at Budapest fashion house Antal Alter (now Alter s Kiss), which had become very popular with the fashion-crazed crowd.

    *Elisabeth followed a strict and draconian diet and exercise regimen to maintain her 20-inch (50cm) waistline, wasting away to near emaciation at times. This was years before such symptoms could be classified as a classic case of Anorexia nervosa.One of her alleged lovers was George "Bay" Middleton, a dashing Anglo-Scot. He had been named as the probable lover of Lady Henrietta Blanche Hozier and father of Clementine Ogilvy Hozier (the wife of Winston Churchill). To a degree, Elisabeth tolerated her husband Franz Joseph's affair with actress Katharina Schratt.

    *Admire the Terrace of the Muses, adorned with statues of the nine muses and the imposing figures of (Achilles Victorious) and (Achilles Dying).

    The Empress wrote poetry (such as the "Nordseelieder" and "Winterlieder", both inspirations from her favorite German poet, Heinrich Heine). Shaping a fantasy in poetry, she referred to herself as Titania, Shakespeare's Fairy Queen. Most of her poetry relates to her journeys, classical Greek and romantic themes, and ironic commentary on the Habsburg dynasty. In these years, Elisabeth intensively studied both ancient and modern Greek, immersing herself in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. Numerous Greek lecturers, such as Marinaky, Christomanos, and Barker, had to accompany the Empress on hour-long walks while reading Greek to her.In 1889, Elisabeth's life was shattered by the death of her only son. Thirty-year-old Crown Prince Rudolf and his young lover Baroness Mary Vetsera were found dead; an investigation suggested it was murder-suicide by Rudolf. The scandal was known as the Mayerling Incident, after Rudolf's hunting lodge in Lower Austria, where they were found.

    *Rudolf's sensational death increased public interest in Elisabeth, and the Empress continued to be an icon, a sensation in her own right, wherever she went. She wore a long black gown that could be buttoned up at the bottom, a white parasol made of leather and a brown fan to hide her face from the curious. Only a few snapshots of Elisabeth in her last years were taken, by photographers lucky enough to catch her unaware.Elisabeth spent little time in Austria's capital Vienna with her husband. Their correspondence increased during their last years, however, and their relationship became a warm friendship. On her imperial steamer Miramar Empress Elisabeth travelled through the Mediterranean. Her favourite places were Cap Martin on the French Riviera, where tourism had started only in the second half of the 19th century; Lake Geneva in Switzerland; Bad Ischl in Austria, where the imperial couple would spend the summer; and Corfu. The Empress also visited countries to which no other northern royal went at the time: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Malta, Greece, Turkey and Egypt. The endless travels became an escape for the Empress from herself and her misery.

    *On 10 September 1898, in Geneva, Switzerland, Elisabeth, aged 60, was stabbed in the heart with a sharpened file by a young mentally ill anarchist named Luigi Lucheni, in an act of "propaganda of the deed". When attacked, she had been walking along the promenade of Lake Geneva about to board the steamship Genve for Montreux with her lady-of-courtesy, Countess Sztaray. She boarded the ship, unaware of the severity of her condition. Bleeding to death from a puncture wound to the heart, Elisabeth said, "What happened to me? The strong pressure from her corset had contained the bleeding until the garment was removed.Reportedly, her assassin had hoped to kill a prince from the House of Orlans and, failing to find him, turned on Elisabeth instead. Lucheni afterwards said, "I wanted to kill a royal. It did not matter which oneThe empress was buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna's city centre. For centuries it has served as the Imperial burial place. After learning of his wife's death, the Emperor reportedly whispered to himself, "She will never know how much I loved her

    *Elisabeth loved Hungary more than Austria and surrounded herself with Hungarian ladies-in-waiting; she was particularly close to Marie Festetics and Ida Ferenczy. She insisted that her attendants speak Hungarian, which she spoke fluently. One of her closest friends was Count Andrssy, who later became Emperor Franz-Joseph's Foreign Minister. Elisabeth's attachment to Hungary benefitted the Empire because it encouraged the support of the Hungarian people, but at the same time, she alienated the Viennese and the Czechs of Bohemia. Several sites in Hungary are named after her: two of Budapest's districts, Erzsbetvros and Pesterzsbet; and Elisabeth Bridge.

    Empress Elisabeth and the Empress Elisabeth Railway (West railway) named after her were recently selected as a main motif for a high value collectors' coin: the Empress Elisabeth Western Railway commemorative coin.

    In 1998, Gerald Blanchard stole the Sisi Star, a diamond-and-pearl piece of jewellery that belonged to Elisabeth of Bavaria from the Schnbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria.

    *Maria Farantouri (sometimes spelt Maria Farandouri) (Greek: ) was born in Athens on 28 November 1947. She is a Greek singer and also a political and cultural activist. She has collaborated with prominent Greek composers such as Mikis Theodorakis, who wrote the score for Pablo Neruda's Canto General, which Farantouri performed. On 14 March 2010, Alpha TV ranked Farantouri the 18th top-certified female artist in the nation's phonographic era (since 1960).Maria Farantouri was an elected member of the Greek Parliament from 1989-1993 representing the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK).

    She is married to the politician Tilemachos Chitiris.