The written history of Laukko manor dates back to year 1416, but according the folklore the local chieftain Matti Kurki received it as a manor from the king of Sweden in the 13th century. The most famous of the medieval lords of Laukko was Klaus Kurki, the tragic hero of a ballad called The Death of Elina. In real life Klaus’s son Arvid became the last Bishop of Catholic Finland. At around the beginning of the 16th century the Kurcks had a stone castle built at Laukko as a symbol of their might and prosperity. The Kurki family owned Laukko until 1817. After that it has been owned by several families, for example famous industrialists Adolf Törngren and Rafael Haarla. Nowadays Laukko is a residence of the Lagerstam family.
The present neo-classic manor house was built in the 1930s. The estate reopened to the public in the summer of 2016, as the estate celebrates its 600th anniversary. For the first time, visitors can see the estate in its entire splendor. The visitors can now admire the main building’s unique collections of arts and antiquities and stroll in the estate’s vast gardens and grounds.
Miramare Castle and its park were built by order of Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg (1832–1867). He was the younger brother of Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria and later the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire. In 1850, at the age of eighteen, Maximilian came to Trieste with his brother Charles and, immediately afterwards, he set off on a short cruise toward the Near East. This journey confirmed his intention to sail and to get to know the world. He decided to move to Trieste and to have a home built facing the sea and surrounded by a park worthy of his name and rank.
The castle's grounds include an extensive cliff and seashore park of 22 hectares designed by the archduke. The grounds were completely re-landscaped to feature numerous tropical species of trees and plants.
Designed in 1856 by Carl Junker, an Austrian architect, the architectural structure of Miramare was finished in 1860. The style reflects the artistic interests of the archduke, who was acquainted with the eclectic architectural styles of Austria, Germany and England.
On the ground floor, destined for the use of Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, worthy of note are the bedroom and the archduke’s office, which reproduce the cabin and the stern wardroom respectively of the frigate Novara, the war-ship used by Maximilian when he was Commander of the Navy to circumnavigate the world between 1857 and 1859. All the rooms still feature the original furnishings, ornaments, furniture and objects dating back to the middle of the 19th century. Many coats of arms of the Second Mexican Empire decorate the castle, as well as stone ornamentations on the exterior depicting the Aztec eagle.
The first floor includes guest reception areas and the Throne Room. Of note are the magnificent panelling on the ceiling and walls and the Chinese and Japanese drawing-rooms with their oriental furnishings. Of particular interest is the room decorated with paintings by Cesare Dell’Acqua, portraying events in the life of Maximilian and the history of Miramare. Currently, the rooms in the castle are mostly arranged according to the original layout decided upon by the royal couple. A valuable photographic reportage commissioned by the archduke himself made accurate reconstruction possible.
Nowadays to visit the castle is to experience the fascination of life in the middle of the 19th century in a residence that has remained largely intact and which gives the visitor an insight into the personality of Maximilian.