Achilleion was built as the summer residence of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria (nickname Sissi). This remarkable lady was, when only 16, married to her cousin the Emperor Franz Joseph. He was the head of the Hapsburg family and anxious for a male heir. After having two daughters, their son Rudolf was born in 1858 but their efforts led to the marriage falling apart (See Sissi I, II & III).
Sissi also could neither bear life in the Hapsburg court nor the attitude of her mother-in-law, the Archduchess Sophie. To escape, she travelled extensively and became obsessed with retaining her beauty (including a 20" waist) and became a superb equestrian. She also developed a fanatical interest in ancient Greek history.
Rudolf died tragically in 1889 and this palace was built immediately afterwards. She had it filled with statues of Achilles and other heroes from Greek mythology.
She was the fatal victim of a senseless attack by an anarchist who stabbed her while she was strolling in a park in Geneva in 1898.
- Published in About Corfu