Some time ago we took a tour bus to visit the castles of King Ludwig II. The tour guide was excellent and gave us lots of information about Germany and Bavaria.
He was telling us that there was (at the time) no speed limit on the autobahn but this was being changed even though the road deaths in Germany were minor compared to other countries with enforced speed limits. Crazy isn’t it. It doesn’t matter what the facts are if some politician thinks he can win votes and collect revenue by passing a law where one isn’t required.
So here we are off to visit Linderhof Castle to see the first of the three castles on the tour.
King Ludwig II was an extremely private individual and he designed this palace to ensure he had complete privacy. Everything about this Palace is just breathtaking. I could just imagine living here.
Linderhof was the only castle that Ludwig completed before his untimely death at the young age of 40.
The smallest of the King Ludwig’s palaces is an amazing sight to see, from the gardens with the gilt fountains through to the kitchens in the base of the castle.
As with most of the palaces in Europe, each room is an absolute feast of opulence and colour and each is more jaw dropping than the last. Unfortunately we aren’t allowed to photograph inside the palace so I have added some photos from Wiki Commons. (attributions at the bottom of the post)
- The Hall of Mirrors is reminiscent of the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. In fact King Louis XIV (the French Sun King was an idol for Louis, and he took the inspiration for the design from the palace in Versailles. The walls are covered by mirrors. Apparently King Ludwig was a night person and so he seldom used the room during the day. But at night the effect of the countless candles reflecting in the mirrors would have been absolutely amazing. The ceiling is painted with with “The Birth of Venus”. And there is a massive chandelier hanging from the beautifully painted ceiling.
- King Ludwig ll commissioned this beautiful porcelain chandelier from the porcelain manufacturers Meissen, when the castle was being built in the second half of the 19th century. The chandelier hangs in the dining room of Schloss Linderhoff
- The music room has tapestry like wall hangings, these are actually fake as they not tapestries at all but depictions based on paintings by Francois Boucher and Antoine Watteau that have been painted on rough canvas. The room also features a life sized porcelain peacock and a beautifully decorated harmonium which stands in one corner of the room.
- The Kings bedroom is ornately furnished and has a painting of Apollo in his chariot over the bed which has a rich canopy embroidered with the Bavarian Coat of Arms. The room is ornately decorated with gilt. Now I mean to say, who couldn’t picture themselves waking up in a magnificent room like this. It really is breathtaking. When you are standing there taking it all in, the opulence is just jaw dropping.
- Perhaps the most interesting room is the dining room, where the king would generally dine alone. The table is on an elevator or dumb waiter which allows it to be lowered to the kitchen below, the meal set and the table raised back up into the dining room. This allowed the king to dine in peace without the comings and goings of the servants.
In his memoirs, Theodor Hierneis, one of the king’s cooks, reports on the king’s eating habits: “He (the king) wants no one around him (at meals). Nevertheless, the dinners and suppers always have to be large enough to serve at least three or four people. This way, although the king always sits down to eat alone, he does not feel alone after all. He believes himself in the company of Louis XIV and Louis XV and their lady friends, Madame Pompadour and Madame Maintenon. He even greets them now and then and carries on conversations with them as though he really had them as his guests at table.” So I guess one could say that the King was a little odd. It’s sad to think that here he was surrounded by all this splendour and yet he appears to have been a somewhat lonely figure.
- Ludwig was an admirer of Wagner and the Venus Grotto was built as an illustration of the First Act of Wagner’s “Tannhäuser”.
- Ludwig would watch performances of his favourite operas, sometimes from the far side of the artificial lake, although sometime he would be rowed over the lake in his golden shell-boat. The king wanted to create the effect of the blue grotto of Capri and so he had the area illuminated by installing dynamos that allowed the grotto to be bathed in changing colors.
We visited Linderhof Castle in 2001 and it was a truly marvelous experience and believe me, it is well worth the trip. This is just a taste of what you will see. The gardens are also spectacular, but that’s a post for another day.
If you are planning a trip to see the Castle you can find out more by visiting the Palace Department.