Sisi - Her Travels
Elisabeth, due to various factors in her life, became an inveterate traveller. She detested and avoided the stifling court life of Habsburg Vienna, which to her was full of people that she could not trust. She travelled widely in 19th century Europe, continually seeking somewhere she could avoid the public gaze. The following is a list of places to which she travelled and brief descriptions of the people around her at the time and of her activities.
1855 Visit to Tyrol and Carinthia in Austria.
1856 Venice & Verona in Italy.
1857 Buda in Hungary. (It was during this, her first visit to a country which would come to mean so much to her, that her first child Sophie died, possibly of scarlet fever.
1860 Flight to Madeira. At this time Elisabeth, on the recommendation of her sister, Queen Marie of Naples, and her brother-in-law Archduke Maximilian (later Emperor of Mexico), Elisabeth sailed to Madeira on the Royal Yacht "Osborne", which was lent to her by Queen Victoria. Elisabeth spent six months on the island.
1861 In the course of the journey home to Austria, Elisabeth visited Cadiz and Seville in Spain, the British colony of Gibraltar and, for the first time, Gastouri on the Greek island of Corfu, a place that she came to love and where she was later to build her Achilleon villa.
1862-63 Elisabeth, whose health had again declined, paid several visits to European health spas such as Bad Kissingen, in Bavaria.
Late 1860s Elisabeth spent increasingly longer periods of time at the Gïż½ïż½lo Palace, outside Budapest.
1874 First visit, with her youngest daughter and favourite child, Marie Valerie, to England. She lived at Steephill Castle on the Isle of Wight. (This building was demolished in the 1960s to make way for housing and a golf course.) She paid several courtesy visits to Queen Victoria at nearby Osborne House. During this visit, the Empress attended a hunt at Belvoir Castle, Melton.
1875 During the summer, Elisabeth rented the Chateau of Sassetot-le-Mauconduits in Brittany (now a luxury hotel) for sea bathing and horse riding. During her stay there, she had a bad fall from her horse, which resulted in concussion. Rumours were spread that she had given birth to a child, whose father was reputed to be Andrassy the Hungarian politician, although this was not in fact true.
1867 Elisabeth rented the English stately home of Easton Neston, which belonged to the Earl of Pomfret (now owned by the Hesketh family and not open to the public), where she hunted to hounds and was instrumental in founding Towcester racecourse, which still thrives to this day. During September of this year, the Empress returned to Greece to visit many classical sites, as well as Corfu.
1887 Sisi rented Cottesbrooke, the home of Sir Henry Langham, near Northampton in England, for a month's hunting. (The house is now the property of the MacDonald-Buchanan family, who open it to the public on Thursdays during the summer months.)
1879 Her travels took her to "Summerhill" , the home of Lord Longford in County Meath, Ireland.
1880 The Empress visited her mother and sisters at Possenhofen in Bavaria, where she had grown up, and also paid a visit to her cousin, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, with whom she was very close, at his castle at Berg on Lake Starnberg, in Bavaria.
1882 Elisabeth rented Combermere Abbey, in Cheshire, England, for her last hunting season.
1884 As her health had again declined, due to savage dieting and excessive gymnastic exercise, the Empress went to Amsterdam to pursue a course of health cures for anaemia and sciatica. She returned for further treatment the following year to Zandvoort on the Dutch North Sea coast.
1885 Sisi made a tour of the Greek islands, Turkey, where she visited Heinrich Schliemann's archaeological excavations at Troy, Cyprus and Port Said in Egypt.
1887 She visited Carmen Sylvia, the Queen of Romania, at Siaia. The Queen, like Elisabeth, was something of a poetess. In July of that year she went to Hamburg in Germany to visit the sister of Heinrich Heine, who was Elisabeth's favourite poet. After this, Sisi paid her last visit to England, staying at Cromer.
1888 saw her making another pilgrimage to Greece and Corfu, where she planned to build her Achilleon Palace.
1889 Sisi made a cruise around the Mediterranean on the Austrian royal yacht "Miramare" calling at Sicily, Malta and Tunis.
1890 She made another cruise, this time visiting Lisbon, Tangier and Oran, in North Africa. Her travels also took her to Marseilles in France, Corsica, Florence, Capri, Naples and the ruins of Pompeii. For a number of years, similar cruises were to be her way of escaping the strict and stuffy Viennese court life - and her husband, whom she had encouraged in his relationship with the Austrian actress, Katherina Schratt.
1894 Sisi spent some time on the French Riviera, where she visited the ex-Empress Eugenie of France, who in her youth had reputedly been a rival to Sisi in beauty. The remaining four years of the Empress's life were filled with constant travelling around the health spas of Europe. She became especially fond of Geneva in Switzerland, where she often stayed at the Hotel Beau Rivage on the Quai Monte Carlo. It was here that she was assassinated by the deranged Italian anarchist, Luigi Lucheni, on September 10th 1898. Elisabeth's last journey took her back to Vienna, which she had always wanted to escape and where she now lies, hopefully at peace, alongside the other Habsburgs in the Kapuzinergruft.