If you asked people for a word that makes them think of Bavaria, I bet castles would be a popular response.
The castles of Bavaria draw millions of people to them each year. Three of these castles were the creation of one person – Ludwig II King of Bavaria. In fact, one of them is the most visited spot in all of Germany!
Swan King, Fairy Tale King, Mad King Ludwig and Crazy King Ludwig are all nicknames for Ludwig II. Flamboyant, eccentric and extravagant are words used to describe him. Whatever you call him or think about him, he built 3 amazing castles that are still attracting visitors to his beloved Bavaria today.
Ludwig II was born into aristocracy and rebelled against it from an early age. He disliked large public functions preferring visiting and talking with townspeople in the countryside of Bavaria. He was passionate about the arts and it would be easy to say that Richard Wagner was his favorite. Whether he actually was crazy is much disputed but his gift to art and architecture is not.
Neuschwanstein is a dramatic castle sitting high up on a hill. Even if you don’t know the name, you have seen pictures of this awe inspiring castle. The Romanesque beauty was the first castle Ludwig II commissioned. The towers, turrets and spires give homage to medieval times. Ludwig’s affection for theater, led him to have the castle modeled by a set designer and not an architect. In fact, many of the walls are painted with characters of Wagner’s operas. This much visited castle was never finished and remains so today. As evidence, the Byzantine throne room has no throne because the king died before ordering one.
The setting of Neuschwanstein could not be more idyllic! Every way you look is a feast for the eyes. It truly is a beautiful building and it is easy to see why you may feel as you are living in a fairy tale while visiting.
The smallest of King Ludwig’s castles is Linderhof, just a short distance from Neuschwanstein, and is also the only one to be finished. The king fancied himself as King Louis XIV of France and designed this castle in his inspiration. The ornate Rococo style castle is truly an over-the-top example of extravagance. This glistening dream world has colorful walls, painting, gilded decorations and amazing furniture of the period. The Hall of Mirrors is the most extravagant room in the castle. The white and gold paneling coupled with the mirrors offers an illusion of largess. But this castle also offered innovative engineering with its dining table that rose to and from the kitchen! The garden areas of the castle are just as eccentric and ornate as the inside. The over-the-top theme keeps going with the cascading waterfall, Moorish kiosk and the Venus Grotto!
Linderhof Castle is a true contrast of styles: exaggerated on the outside and extravagant on the inside but you will love it!
The third and final castle built by King Ludwig II is surrounded by beautiful mountains acting as a stunning setting for Herrenchiemsee sitting on an island in the middle of lake Chiemsee near the Austrian border. This never completed grandiose castle is quite impressive and was modeled after Versailles. From Prien, you will take a boat to the island where you may take a horse drawn carriage to the castle. It is said, the most spectacular room is the Hall of Mirrors but the Grand Staircase is equally impressive. The rooms of Herrenchiemsee offer some of the best examples of 19th century interior decoration still in existence today. The collection of porcelain is exquisite. In this castle you will find many brilliantly painted ornate rooms, a bathroom with a small pool for a tub, another table that rises to and from the kitchen and the same type of formal gardens you come to expect from Ludwig II. The gardens at Herrenchiemsee offer a park like atmosphere complete with pools and fountains!
While visiting Ludwig’s castles, we can still dream, wonder and be in awe of his vision while enjoying some of the most amazing countryside Bavaria has to offer!