Today we want to introduce you to one of the best known Austrians: Empress Sisi. She was the longest reigning Austrian Empress, loved to travel and danced to the beat of her own drum. Here’s here story!
Childhood and marriage
Sisi (born as Elisabeth of Wittelsbach) was born in 1837 as daughter of Duke Maximilian and Duchess Ludovika in Bavaria. When she was 16 she got to know her cousin Emporer Franz Joseph. He was going to marry Sisi’s sister Helene but when he saw Sisi, he fell in love with her and decided to marry her. The marriage did not work out because Sisi was not prepared for the strict protocol at court. She also had to struggle with her ambitious stepmother and the fact that her husband was absent most of the time because he struggled to fight revolutionary and separatist tendencies in the Habsburg Empire…
Elisabeth’s life as Empress & death
Sisi’s mother in law, Sophie, took over the control of her life. Her children were taken from her and she was barely allowed to see them. That put her in deep depression and illness. After two years of cure and lodging in Madeira, Korfu and Bavaria, Sisi returned to Vienna with new confidence and decided to take control of political issues. Soon she took interest in Hungary, the very troubled neighbour of Austria and was crowned Queen of Hungary in 1867.
As she grew older, Sisi became more obsessed with her beauty and taking care of her body, resulting in anorexia. She was popular with the Austrian people because of her liberal ideas, her call for a republic structure and her effort for the poor and troublesome.
On the September 10, 1898 at the age of 60 she was stabbed to death by a young Italian anarchist while walking through Geneva.
Sisi in today’s Vienna
It was not until after her death that she became very popular and subject of numerous books and films. There are various hotspots in Vienna that remind people of her:
- Schoenbrunn palace: It served as summer residence to Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Sisi. Their parlours and apartments can be viewed on a tour through the castle.
- Imperial castle: Vienna’s Imperial castle (called “Hofburg”) was one of the Habsburg’s residences in Vienna. Nowadays it’s home to the “Sisi Museum” and other famous museums.
- Hermesvilla: Emperor Francis Joseph gave the “Hermesvilla” – or “Palace of Dreams” as Sisi once called it – to his wife. It is located in the middle of the Lainzer Tiergarten.