In the early 1980's the Senior Partner's career took us to Bavaria, West Germany, we lived there for over 13 years.
Our home overlooked Starnberger See (Lake Starnberg) and it was whilst I was living there that I came to learn a little of the history of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, (1837-1898).
As a child Sissi enjoyed spending time with other family members by Lake Starnberg at their summer residence Possenhofen Castle, situated in the pretty lake shore village of the same name.
adult life was not as pleasant.
Her marriage to Franz Joseph was not a happy one, overshadowed as it was by her domineering mother in law who also happened to be her aunt, the Archduchess Sophie (of Bavaria).
The suicide/murder of her son and heir, Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria, and his mistress at his hunting lodge, Mayerling, in 1889 was a tragedy from which she never recovered.
Elisabeth fled Austria and travelled to the island of Corfu, a place she had visited often during her extended travels and a sanctuary from life at court in Vienna, Austria.
After purchasing a large villa in the village of Gastouri
and later also the land surrounding it down as far as the coast she instructed the Italian architect, Raffaele Caritto to design a palace in the Pompeian style.
Building began in 1889 and took two years to complete.
As a great admirer of Achilles, a hero of Greek mythology, Elisabeth named the palace Achilleion and had several statues of him installed in the house and throughout the grounds.
She visited Achilleion twice each year until she was murdered in 1898 in Geneva.
The palace remained closed until it was sold in 1907 by her daughter, Maria Valeria, to Kaiser Wilhelm II.
is now a Museum operated by the Greek Tourist Organization and we were able to tour both it and the extensive gardens during our recent stay in Corfu.
It was wonderful to walk the halls and climb the elaborate staircase however many of the rooms were unfurnished and in need of some TLC.
I so enjoyed learning more about the Empress Elisabeth and seeing her most favourite home but was saddened to discover that her visits were cut short when her life ended so tragically at the hands of an assassin.
On a lighter note to finish, some movie trivia for you to enjoy.
The teenage German actress Romy Schneider starred in a trilogy of movies entitled "Sissi" (1955, 1956 & 1957) playing the role of Elisabeth. The three films were later condensed into one version "Forever My Love" and dubbed into English.
In 1968 Omar Sharif played the leading role of Crown Prince Rudolph in a movie based on the Mayerling Incident.
Scenes from the 1981 James Bond movie "For Your Eyes Only" were filmed in the Casino on the upper storey of Achilleion.