There are many stunning castles and palaces throughout Bavaria, with the most popular all built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. You might know his most romantic and popular castle, Schloss Neuschwanstein perched high up on a hill in Schwangau or the palace he built on Chiemsee which is dedicated to his idol, King Louis XV of France, a smaller replica of the Palace of Versailles called Schloss Herrenchiemsee. If you have visited either of these castles, you might have left feeling a bit unsatisfied as both castles were not completed by the time of King Ludwig II’s untimely death in 1886. But fear not!
Schloss Linderhof was the only palace that the King lived to see to be completed and had the chance to live in for eight years! Again, this palace was inspired by the Palace of Versailles in Paris and you can see the stunning artwork in honor of the French monarchy. While it might lack in size, as it is the smallest palace built by King Ludwig II, it packs a punch and it well worth the visit!
Located not far from the small town of Oberammergau down in the Bavarian Alps, the castle is only accessible with a guided tour for €8.50 per adult. The guided tours are offered in both English and in German. Other languages are handed a folder with a language guide to follow along. As the castle is the smallest of all King Ludwig II’s castles, it takes a minimum of 25 minutes or less for an entire tour through the castle. The funny thing about the tour was that the guide kept referring to King Ludwig II as “Our King” as if he was still alive and as if there was still a King of Bavaria. You are ushered through each room as quickly as possible and hardly have a chance to really enjoy the beauty of the castle. Unfortunately, there is no photography allowed inside the castle, like all his other castles. So, all pictures from the inside of the castle were found via Google!
King Ludwig II had a very extravagant taste in style and loved gold artwork throughout his castles. Schloss Linderhof is no different and every room is designed in beautiful French style with golden Rococo artwork. He ascended to the Bavarian throne when he was only 18 and had no experience of life or politics but was adored by women. Eventually over time, he became more and more recluse and lived more like a hermit. From 1875 onward he only slept during the day and lived at night. Otherwise, he surrounded himself with beauty and therefore created a fantasy world around him in which he could escape. Now, people like myself, flock to his mystical fairy tale castles and step back in time to try to understand this very eccentric King’s life.
Every room was stunning from the entrance of the palace which has a large golden ceiling fresco dedicated to the Sun King of France to the Throne Room, the King’s Bedroom as well as his dining room which had a mechanical dinner table that could be lowered to the kitchens below and raised again so that they King could eat in solitude without being disturbed. It is said that perhaps the King was insane as he used to talk to imaginary people such as King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette while eating dinner.
The King’s Bedroom resembled the bedroom of the King in the Palace of Versailles with a banister in front of the bed. In France, it is custom to receive nobility in the morning and in the evening in the bedroom rather than in the Throne Room so this was one of the biggest rooms in the castle. Above the doors to the left and right are paintings depicting daily life at the Palace of Versailles.
Schloss Linderhof also has a room which has Hall of Mirrors which when standing between two mirrors opposite each other, make the room seem endless with the chandelier reflecting in the middle.
Every morning the King woke up to this beautiful view of the Neptune fountain and the Music Pavilion at the top of the hill. (The picture on the left is the view from the bedroom and the picture on the right is from the top, at the Music Pavilion looking down.)
After doing a tour of the castle we wandered the palace gardens and climbed the staircase just opposite the castle for a view over the palace as well as the large basin in the center with a golden statue in the center which shoots water into the air periodically. At the top there is a round temple with a statue of Venus.
You can see in the background that the palace is surrounded by endless mountains. King Ludwig II began to spend more and more time in the mountains and less time in Munich. He enjoyed sleigh rides in one of his many elaborate sleighs which had been designed with the newest technology which can be seen at Schloss Nymphenburg in Munich, where he was born.
Before walking towards the romantic Venus Grotto we walked down to the Hundinghütte which was a good 15 minute walk. King Ludwig II deeply admired Richard Wagner’s writings and plays. Therefore he built a small cabin which inside resembled one of his plays. Be prepared to do a lot of up and downhill walking!
The King would also commission the Venus Grotto to be built which also honored the stories from Richard Wagner. The Grotto was strictly built to row the King around in a small golden swan boat to the first act of Richard Wagner’s “Tannhäuser”. Not only did he want to be able to do this, but he wanted to feel like he was rowing his boat in the Blue Grotto of Capri, so for the first time ever, the lights were able to change colors.
The only way to see the inside the Grotto is with a guided tour, purchased with your ticket which allows you to see everything on the palace grounds. The tour is in German and then at the end, a recorded loudspeaker translates the history into English. It takes only about 10 minutes to see the entire grotto, which is partially under refurbishment. Inside, there is also a rock dedicated to the Loreley below the blue light, so I was excited about this!
Also not to be missed is the Moorish Kiosk which the King bought from the International Exhibit in Paris in 1867. Unfortunately, you can’t actually go inside to look at the beautiful Peacock Throne, but instead must look through a large glass panel just inside the front door. Unfortunately with the glass, its hard to get a great picture and the Peacock Throne was actually missing and currently undergoing restoration and will be returned in 2016.
As you walk back down to the castle and to head to the car, you will walk down to the left or right of the castle through a romantic Love Tunnel covered in ivory leaves. I wish it had been fall when we went as I have always wanted to talk through one during the changing of the seasons. But I’ll settle for summer!
Before you visit Schloss Linderhof:
- Linderhof Palace is open from 9:00 – 6:00 pm April – October 15th. Important Travel tip: This is the best time to visit the palace as in the winter the palace is open from 10:00-4:00pm everything else is closed – the Grotto, Moroccan House, and Moorish Kiosk and the fountains won’t be turned on. Lastly, there won’t be much to see in the gardens as everything will be dead for winter.
- Entrance to Linderhof Palace costs €8.50 and this gives you access to everything.
- I recommend bringing a picnic as the park is gorgeous and there are plenty of tress which provide shade! If a picnic isn’t your thing then there is a restaurant at the entrance to the grounds.
- Linderhof Palace can be reached by taking a train from Munich, to the nearby village of Ettal. Then hop on a bus which takes you directly to the palace.
- Don’t wear high heels of any kind unless you can handle small pebbles getting in your shoes and can handle doing a lot of walking up and down hills with unsteady, unpaved walkways.
- For more information check out the Schloss Linderhof webpage.
The village of Ettal has a beautiful Benedictine monastery home to about 50 monks which was founded by Emperor Ludwig IV of Bavaria in 1330. The inside is stunningly designed in Rococo stuccowork with a massive dome with pale yellow frescos. The monastery also produces its own fruit liqueurs, flavored brandies and beer!
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