Built in the mid-19th century to serve as the private residence of Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian (the younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph) and his new wife, Charlotte of Belgium, the castle's architecture is a direct reflection of Maximilian's somewhat eclectic tastes, combining elements the Gothic, Medieval and Renaissance schools that were popular amongst Habsburg nobility at the time. Completed in 1860, the young couple would spend only a few years here, as Maximilian became the Emperor of Mexico in 1864, and quite infamously met his demise only a few years later at the ands of republican forces.
In the following decades Miramare was used as the occasional holiday residence by less foolhardy members of the Habsburg family, with Franz Ferdinand staying here only two months before his own assassination in Sarajevo. After WWI, the castle was partially opened to the public, and then served as the residence of various occupying forces (Germans, New Zealanders, the English and finally Americans) during and after WWII, before being returned to Italian control in 1954. The park grounds and castle museum were duly restored and reopened to the public one year later.