Empress Elisabeth

A complex personality and the stages of her life

Sisi is one of the most interesting women of the 19th century, for this member of the House of Wittelsbach is a modern and variable woman who fits no pattern. Yet, she knows how to present herself persuasively to those interested in her person. Through her marriage to the Habsburg emperor Franz Joseph I she is suddenly the young Empress of Austria, which at the time included reign over large portions of today’s Italy, and only a few years later Queen of Hungary.

The life’s journey of this many-faceted woman is marked by strong ambivalence. She experiences much happiness but at least as much bondage. She has a tremendous compulsion for beauty and truly is recognized as the most beautiful woman of her era, but still she is troubled her entire life with self-doubt. She is extremely well-read and educated, fluent in many languages and is an adept expert on Greek mythology. However, political pressures often overrule her advanced and especially public opinion.

Elisabeth is a phenomenal athlete. At an early age, she falls in love with horseback riding, climbing, hiking, swimming and much more. Her love for outdoor activity, surrounded by nature and all of its elements, abides with her throughout adulthood. Likewise, Sisi is an introverted poet who writes about her emotional world. Her poetic self-image is that of a seagull, an animal which symbolizes freedom and independence but also homelessness. Elisabeth is – still today – the empress of hearts and yet she carried a heart full of misery and melancholy. As a child, she is given the nickname “Lisi” (shortened form of Elisabeth). From this name “Sisi” later emerges and then “Sissi,” resulting from the Romy Schneider movies, the variant widely known today. In 2002, Sisi’s Road was created in her honor.