< ITALY | TRIESTE: Savoia Excelsior Palace
Designed by the renowned XIX Austrian architect, Ladislaus Fiedler, the Savoia Excelsior Palace opened its doors in 1912 and was quickly reputed as "the
most imposing and luxurious hotel in the Austro-Hungarian Empire".
The beautiful and central area of Trieste, right upon the Adriatic, where the Savoy Excelsior Palace was constructed between early 1910 and the Summer of 1911, was reclaimed from the sea with a land-fill around the middle of the eighteenth century, by the Town maritime authority, in order to erect a building for the Royal maritime health service, the “Casino di Sanità Marittima”.
The land and the premises belonged to the Austro-Hungarian central tax authority which, around the mid-nineteenth century, where approached by the powerful Lloyd Austriaco of
Trieste to build there their new offices. The authorisation was denied but, towards 1880, the situation changed thanks to the development of the “New port of Trieste” which
freed the “Riva del Mandracchio” area (Mandracchio is an old-fashioned Italian word, indicating a particularly sheltered area within a port for the docking of small ships and
At the time the Lloyd of Trieste had already started the building of its opulent building, the Austrian society of hotels obtained the area from the Vienna government and the authorisation to build a large grand hotel to meet the needs of the constantly growing number of travellers who passed by and were staying in Trieste before boarding an ocean liner ship for the Americas or the Middle and Far East or, again, awaiting a connecting steamer.
The opening of the Suez Canal (1869), strongly supported by the Lloyd shipping company as well as by virtually all the Austrian and Trieste-based entrepreneurs, transformed Trieste into a burgeoning place, which would be known as the “European gate to the East”.
On the 25th October 1909 the Austrian Society of Hotels obtained the authorisation to demolish the existing building of the Maritime health authority (transferred inside the “Palazzo Carciotti” on the Trieste “Grand Canal”) and the Vienna-based architect Ladislaus Fiedler started the complex process of designing what was simply known as the “Grand Hotel”. One of the main issues was the reinforcement of the ground by fitting a new foundation of cast iron with the cutting-edge Zublin technology.
The permission granted by the public authorities to build such a huge hotel on the waterfront and fit it with cantilevered balconies (the press from Trieste defined them “a gross indecency”!) meant something in return. The building was to be completed by June, 1911, in order to accommodate the Hapsburg court and dignitaries attending the launch of the new flagship of the Austro-Hungarian Navy at the presence of H.I.H. the Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian on the 20th June, 1911. To reach such a target was virtually impossible and only employing 250 workers it was possible, by the 18th of June, to accommodate the very first guests of the Grand Hotel Excelsior Palace on the lower floors, while the upper ones would have been completed and furnished only in early 1912.
The 3rd November, 1918, saw the first arrival in Trieste of the Italian King Vittorio Emanuele III: on that occasion the prefix Savoy was added to the Excelsior Palace.
The Palace became known as the “Ocean Liner Hotel” owing to its privileged position as, across the road, is located the Ocean Terminal:?there is no other place in the World where a beautiful, stylish luxury Grand Hotel of yesteryear, perfectly restored to its original splendour, is one minute walk from the gangway of a cruise ship.
“My soul is in Trieste”, stated James Joyce, and this feeling was certainly revived any time he was sipping a coffee for which Trieste is famous worldwide at the Grand Hotel, watching the busy port, full of life, of the voices of the longshoremen, of the colourful glimpses of sailors, bellmen, porters and passengers with their luggage and steamer trunks...
Today, the Savoia Excelsior Palace has been totally renovated with the interiors and façade restored to the grandeur of the building's original Grand Hotel XIX century architecture, while featuring contemporary conveniences and technology. Inside, the walls have been fitted with a classical plasterwork boiserie, reminiscent of stunning Mitteleuropean interiors.
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