It’s Wednesday and the weather here has been completely craptastic. It will take most of the summer for the area to recover from the hail storm from Monday (see here for details-with advance apologies for being unable to extract the commercial before the video). All this tumultuous weather had me wishing I was back in Germany walking through incredibly appointed castles and drinking in all the culture. When I last visited there was a soft, gentle misty rain during part of my visit to this castle…so unlike Monday’s hell-breathing hailstorm, the current weather has made me wistfully wishing I was back there even more. So please join me on a magic carpet ride back in time to the spectacular Linderhof Palace, located about 15 minutes from Oberammergau in southern Bavaria.
Of the three major castles that Ludwig II built, Linderhof was the smallest but the most spectacular and opulently appointed. It was also the only one Ludwig was able to finish before his untimely death in 1884. The original building began as an alpine hunting lodge and added wings to it which later evolved into the current castle. Ludwig ascended the throne in 1864 at the young age of 18 following the unexpected death of his father, Maximilian. Socially awkward, painfully shy, Ludwig was a dreamy-eyed but detail oriented Virgo and lived a tortured life whose real interests were in the arts, music and architecture, not governing. One way to detach himself from the harsh royalty reality was to create the ultimate fantasy world which served as a refuge from having to deal with royal duties.
In 1874, the original structure was moved some 200 meters away and work began on this spectacular palace at its present-day site. There were numerous building phases before its 1886 completion. Ludwig’s biography indicates a strong familial French connection with the royal House of Bourbon (his godfather was Louis XVI) so it seemed natural that design plans were strongly inspired by his infatuation with the Versailles Palace with a healthy dose of Wagnerian influences thrown in for good measure. Though smaller than its inspiration, it was nonetheless, equally as ornate and opulent. Linderhof cost the crown over 8 million marks, a gargantuan sum especially back in those days. It was the only castle Ludwig lived long enough to see completed. While photographs are not permitted inside the palace, there are a few snatched from the Linderhof Palace website. The exterior and garden photos are my own.
Situated on the south side and commanding spectacular views of the surrounding area was the King’s bedchamber. One of the largest rooms of the castle, it boasted a special view of the grounds and woods Ludwig so loved with from an early age. Clad in signature blue color of Bavaria, the bed was flanked by two large candelabras and, as was typical throughout the palace, had an overabundance of intricately embroidered tapestries. Being quite a tall monarch, his bed was specially constructed to fit his well-over 6 foot frame. Set in an alcove on a low stair riser, it resembled an altar. The glass chandelier below held 108 candles.
The dining room held a special feature in that the table could be lowered through the floor directly to the kitchen and then cranked up with meals allowing the king to not have to see any servants. Always dining alone, Ludwig was self-conscious of the poor condition of his teeth according to the tour guide who said the king suffered from a “sweet tooth.” It has been reported that Ludwig led a very lonely life as the king. While the decor is far too overdone for my tastes, this room was breathtaking. The photo simply does not do it justice.
The outside exterior and gardens were equally as fabulous. Ludwig was well-traveled and fascinated by the mystical world of the Orient and insisted on incorporating many of those influences into the sprawling gardens, combining formal elements of Baroque style, Italian Renaissance gardens and formal landscaping of an English garden.
Ludwig was so taken with the 300+ year old Royal Lime Tree on the right, he refused to remove it despite its asymmetry in the formal gardens. The gilt fountain operated solely through the pressure of the natural gradient, rising over 20 feet in the air at times.
The Hall of Mirrors, inspired by the same room from Versailles was far too dizzying to include a photo but you can check it out here. I didn’t stay in this room for too long fearing I’d become nauseous looking into mirrors reflecting mirrors to infinity. Ludwig reportedly slept during the day when sunlight could practically ensure a headache in the infinity mirrors but spent time in this room during the night when it was lit by candlelight, where it must have been dazzling with flickering lights. The room has massively large and continuous mirrors, centrally heated fireplaces with chimney pieces of lapis lazuli, ornamented rosewood veneer furniture, bronze figures, the ostrich down carpet in front of the alcove, and fine Carrara marble sculptures.
And last, but certainly not least, Ludwig built an artificial pristine cave with lake and waterfall at the castle modeled after a Wagnerian opera complete with electrical lighting provided by the first electric company in Bavaria. Remember this was the late 1800’s! As with all of his castles, Ludwig employed all manner of technology including electricity, finely appointed kitchens, central heat and dumb waiters.
Well, that’s it for this edition of “Wish I was there Wednesday.” Hope you enjoyed the tour! Till the next time…
Live, love, bark! ❤︎