Castle Hunting

Last weekend marked a momentous occassion: The completion of our Konig Ludwig Schloss tour. Last year we saw Neuschwanstein, about a month ago we visited Herrenchiemsee and now we have checked Linderhof off the list!

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King Ludwig II of Bavaria (taken from Wikipedia)

King Ludwig II of Bavaria was Bayern’s most beloved King. He lived from 1845 to 1866 and unfortunately seemed to be delusional. However, his delusions only caused him to design and build beautiful castles.  His idea was to build castles from various eras and lands using modern technology. While his castle building nearly toppled the Bavarian economy of the day, practically bringing the country to its financial knees, he was peaceful and didn’t lead Bavaria into any wars.  He cared only for music and beauty, had a keen eye for design and a stunning sense of space. His is a story of mystery and intrigue because his life came to an untimely end at a young age. To this day no one is sure whether it was murder or suicide.

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Fairytale castle: Neuschwanstein

Before he died, he built three castles in Southern Bavaria and made plans for various others. The most famous is Neuschwanstein, well-known because it inspired Walt Disney when he created the castle for the animated motion picture, Cinderella. I would also give him credit for inspiring Disney’s Beauty and the Beast as he invented a table that “magically” set it self, appearing suddenly into the room, through the floor.  It is said that he used this cool gadget to impress his famous royal cousin Sisi. This device can’t be seen at Neuschwanstein but is featured at both Herrenchiemsee, an almost exact replica of Versailles on Lake Chiemsee and at Linderhof, a lovely summer castle for a King who loved Richard Wagner and being alone. Linderhof was the only castle ever completed and the one where King Ludwig really lived.

Each castle has a tour of the finished rooms.  The tours vary in price from 6 to 12 Euros. It’s not difficult to get a ticket except at Neuschwanstein where one really must arrive early in order to book a tour. Visiting the gardens and grounds outside all the castles is free.  What is both wonderful and terrible is that photographs are not permitted inside the castles.  So I’ll just tell you, for me, Neuschwanstein’s interior is the best.  It’s innovative and wildly beautiful. The other castles are decorated in a more typical rococo style generally associated with palaces like Versailles and so while they are all very impressive they aren’t really something new.  One exception is King Ludwig’s display of porcelain.  His porcelain flowers, chandeliers and other decor, many of which were created by Meissen, are unbelievable even when you are looking at them in real life, most especially featured at Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee.

I have my opinions about King Ludwig and the scandal of his death of course, but since I’m not Bavarian, I try to keep them to myself.  What’s funny is that as beloved as he is in Bavaria, Bavarians openly talk about his craziness.  I keep expecting people to defend him because they like him so much, but I guess they like him in spite of his craziness.

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View of Linderhof with the King’s Linden Tree in the forefront

What’s even more interesting is that the castles he built, the very castles that probably got him killed and most certainly the castles that brought about his removal from the throne are now bringing in approximately 30 million Euros per year for Germany through tourism.  Was King Ludwig really crazy or was he a futurist? Did he truly harbor delusions of Louis IV’s grandeur or did he have an innovative thought about the value of tourism and Bavaria’s role in the European economy in the future? You’ll have to decide for yourself.

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