Maximilian purchased land on the site in 1855. In the following year, the archduke set about creating a medium-size park which could be crossed on foot. Maximilian gave the architect, Carl Junker, explicit instructions for designing the grounds. The gardener Josef Laube was first put in charge of the botanical planning. The original idea was to create a Mediterranean garden, but the orange and lemon trees did not survive the severity of the first winters. In 1859, therefore, Maximilian entrusted a new project to Anton Jelinek. The whole site then became much more of a landscape garden, with some woodland areas and a parterre. In the park grounds there are also some buildings that Junker envisaged in his original scheme.
At the entrance to the park there are the stables (Scuderie) and coach-house, originally a one-storey central block flanked by two two-storey wings. In 1930 another storey was added to host the servants’ quarters. The building was restored in 1994 and it is now used as a exhibition venue.
As work progressed on the castle, the building of the Castelletto, a small-scale reproduction of the main building, began. The external appearence of the small castle is typical of the park chalets then in vogue: crenelletion and turrets, with terracotta and wrought-iron work on the façade. The first floor interior still preserves some of the decor that was transferred here from Maximilian’s first residence in Trieste, Villa Lazarovich, including the “Moorish” rooms, the “Nordic” room, and the “Flemish” room. In the forecourt of the Castelletto there are the iron-and-glass greenhouses.
Another small building in the park is the so-called “Swiss Cottage” which is on the edge of the swan lake, a typical example of a nineteenth-century rustic Alpine building. At the end of the parterre there is a small structure which now serves as a Coffee Shop.
The decor of the garden
Maximilian devoted great thought to the decor of the garden and the grounds. The iconographic scheme for the whole castle also includes the statues for the parterre, which were to recall classical works in other royal gardens. In February 1859 Maximilian purchased a bronze copy of Antonio Canova’s Napoleon I, from the sculptor Giovanni Pandiani; the statue was set up at the end of the pergola looking towards the swan lake. The statues in the parterre include reproductions of the Medici Venus and Mercury, while next to the Coffee House there are reproductions of the Meleager and the Venus of Capua.
All these elements were commissioned to the Moritz-Geiss firm in Berlin. Among these statues, in the forecourt, there is also a copy of the Joseph Kiss’s Amazon on Horseback. Nearby is a column bearing a bust of Duke Leopold of Hapsburg, commemorating the submission of Trieste to the House of Hapsburg in 1382. Among the other items of decor planned by Maximilian there is also a series of cannons, which were a gift from Leopold I and are aligned along the terrace overlooking the sea. Maximilian also located at the end of the harbour pier a statue of a Sphinx, which dates from the Ptolematic period (third century BCE). In the park there is also a memorial statue dedicated to Amedeo of Aosta by Marcello Mascherini, dating from 1971.