Germany is a land filled with historical buildings and German castles and forts are among the most renowned in the world. Each week I publish a post about a German castle or fort and tell you – my readers – about its history, important things to see there and much more.
The German state of Bavaria is known as the Land of Castles, and rightly so. We will explore today another of the ‘Mad King’ Ludwig II of Bavaria’s castles: Linderhof Palace. I have already posted about the Neuschwanstein Castle, another of Ludwig’s creations. The site where this palace was built had previously been a hunting lodge for King Maximilian II, Ludwig II’s father. Ludwig had grand plans for the site. He wanted a Byzantine palace with lots of grand buildings. Due to the financial burden of building such a palace, plans had to be altered and Ludwig had to settle for a more downgraded castle. But the new castle was by no means lacking in grandeur. Linderhof Palace was to be built with Ludwig’s favorite palace in mind: Versailles.
Linderhof gets its name from the weeping willows (Linde in German) found in the forest around the area. The palace was built from 1869 to 1879 in different phases and was intended to be a home away from home and a refuge for King Ludwig II much as Versailles was for Queen Marie Antoinette. King Ludwig II was a great admirer of King Louis XIV the ‘Sun King’ of France and sought to emulate him through his castles. This was why Linderhof was built in the style of Versailles. In fact, certain statues and two pavilions at the Linderhof Palace were acquired at the 1867 Universal Exhibition in Paris.
In the end, the Linderhof Palace could not become what Ludwig wanted it to be. But, the grounds and the palace itself are full of great wonders. Venus’ Grotto is where Ludwig liked to spent time by the water, perhaps planning his next architectural fiesta.
The artificially constructed grotto is a combination of scenes from Capri’s Grotta Azzurra and Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser. Ludwig’s boat is still there and can be admired today. The lights in the grotto were powered by the world’s first power plant built by Siemens. This speaks volumes about Ludwig’s imagination and revolutionary nature in terms of realizing his ambitions. Similarly, the Hunding’s Hut on the palace grounds depicts scenes from another Wagner opera, Valkyrie.
The Moroccan House and the Moorish Kiosk – with the Peacock Throne – are also found on the castle grounds and add an oriental touch to the surroundings.
Inside the palace, no expenses were spared in terms of decoration and grandeur. The ceilings are decorated with frescoes, there is a Hall of Mirrors, numerous paintings and tapestries, and a surprise in the dining hall. Ludwig was
a private person and would be described today as a loner. He did not want to be surrounded by people, even when taking his meals. Therefore, a device called a Tischlein deck dich was constructed which is a disappearing dumb waiter. It should be noted here that while dining alone, Ludwig demanded that the table be set for four people. He would hold imaginary conversations with King Louis XV of France, Queen Marie Antoinette and Madame de Pompadour. They didn’t call him the Mad King for nothing.
This palace is a must see attraction when you are in Bavaria and should definitely be on your list of places to see while you’re there. The admission prices and opening hours can be found here. While you are visiting, you would be madder than the Mad King himself not to visit the stunningly beautiful town of Oberammergau and the entire district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.