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The Romantic Castles of King Ludwig II of Bavaria - California Globetrotter

Visiting Germany is more than just drinking beer and eating schnitzel. Every year, Germany attracts thousands of visitors, 407.26 million to be exact, making it the seventh most visited country in the world! 

Many tourists flock to some of the typical tourist hot spots, such as Heidelberg, Rothenberg ob der Tauber, Berlin and Munich. While these are certainly great places to visit and highly recommended, there are some more romantic places, thanks to Bavaria’s crazy King Ludwig II.

Want to visit the most romantic castles in Germany? PIN IT FOR LATER!!

The Romantic Castles of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Germany - Schloss Neuschwanstein, Herrnchiemsee & Linderhof - California Globetrotter

At 18 years old, Ludwig ascended the Bavarian throne in 1864. For twenty-two years, he would reign over one of the most prestigious and envied state in what would later become a part of Germany. During these twenty-two years, he would produce some of the most romantic fairy-tale castles in Bavaria using his own money…while simultaneously breaking the bank and borrowing heavily from the Bavarian government. Eventually, his extravagant spending would be turned against him as his ministers would try to declare him insane.

He was a highly secluded person who constantly day dreamed about turning his beloved composer, Richard Wagner’s stories into real life fairy-tale palaces.

He had traveled to Pierrefonds and the Palace of Versailles in France and was amazed by the French had built up and glorified their culture and realized that Bavaria was certainly lacking in this area. It would become his ultimate obsession to see that Bavaria also achieved this status.

Schloss Neuschwanstein

Perched atop a mountain overlooking the Schwangau valley below, Schloss Neuschwanstein (New-Swan-on-the-Rock-Castle) was the first of King Ludwig II’s romantic castles to be commissioned. Starting in 1868, plans were made to replace the ruins of a medieval castle to make way for the castle we know today and was planned to be his personal retreat since it was not big enough to house the royal court.

Unfortunately, like the rest of his castles, with the exception of Schloss Linderhof, the castle was never completed due to King Ludwig II’s untimely and mysterious death in 1886. After 17 years of construction, only 14 of the 360 rooms were completed.

Today, the palace is one of the most visited tourist attractions in all of Germany, reaching a grand total of around 6,000 visitors per day during the summer.

The palace was used as inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty castle for Disney and also appeared in one of my favorite movies: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, although in the movie they say that they are in Bulgaria.

Where to Stay: If you’re looking for a comfortable and easy place to stay with that authentic Bavarian hospitality, consider staying at Hotel Alpenstube, right in the heart of Hohenschwangau, at the foot of the castle!

Schloss Linderhof

As mentioned previously, the small palace of Schloss Linderhof is located near Ettal was the only castle that the king lived to see be completed, which he even had the luxury of living in for the remaining 8 years of his life. This palace was inspired by the Palace of Versailles in Paris and you can see the stunning artwork in honor of the French monarchy.

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. Eventually, 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.

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.

Where to Stay: Hotel Klosterhotel Ludwig der Bayer ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Just across the street from the stunning pale yellow Ettal Abbey which has comfy cozy Bavarian hospitality and a fantastic restaurant with traditional Bavarian cuisine!

Schloss Herrenchiemsee

Located on an island on Chiemsee (Lake Chiem) in one of the most beautiful lakes not far from Munich is the last of King Ludwig II’s stunning palaces to be built. Having been so inspired by the French monarch, he built this palace in honor of King Louis XIV “the Sun King” in Versailles. Therefore, Schloss Herrenchiemsee is almost an exact replica of the Palace of Versailles, found just outside of Paris but on a much smaller scale, as it was never completed. It was the final palace that the king would begin building and by far one of the most magnificent.

The palace was built between 1878 and 1885 and King Ludwig II only got the chance to stay in the palace for a few days, just the year before his death. Immediately after his untimely and mysterious death, the palace was finally opened to the public. By the time the King died, only 20 of the 70 rooms in the palace were complete. The sections that were not completed were later demolished.

The palace gardens are just as beautiful as those at the real Palace of Versailles and were considered to be of top priority when planning the building of the palace. Most of the gardens had been completed by the time the King died. Only the Apollo fountain and a boat landing dock were incomplete. For the most part, the gardens had to be copied in exact detail for the perfect view out of the windows from the palace.

The castle is only accessible by taking a 15 minutes boat trip to the largest island, Herren Insel before walking a 15 minute walk up to the palace.

By the time of the King’s untimely and mysterious death at Lake Starnberg, not far from Munich, King Ludwig II was 14 million marks in debt and demanding loans from all of Europe’s royalty. His cabinet members high disagreed and he was ready to replace them, but they acted first. They decided that he was mentally ill and unfit to continue to rule. On June 10, 1886, the government commission reached Schloss Neuschwanstein to deliver the papers declaring him unable to rule.

By June 13th, his doctor accompanied him for a walk around Lake Starnberg, only to never return. A search was started and after a few hours of searching, both of their bodies were mysteriously found floating in the shallow waters near the shore. Ludwig’s death was pronounced as death by suicide, but during the autopsy, water was not found in his lungs, therefore starting the rumors and speculations as to how the king died.

Today, his castles are some of the most beloved castles by many in Germany and around the world. Ironically, the very castles that caused the government so much debt have now become the most profitable source of income for the government.

If you’re interested in visiting Germany and are looking for more information, I highly recommend using the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide! Without these guides, I would be lost! This is my travel Bible!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might make a little extra spending money, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own and these products/services have been found useful during our travels and come highly recommended to you from yours truly!

Be sure to check out some other castles in Germany!

What’s the Difference Between a Burg and a Schloss?

Burg Hohenzollern

Schloss Nymphenburg

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Replies to The Romantic Castles of King Ludwig II of Bavaria

  1. I liked your post a lot. I think I have previously mentioned how fascinating I find the life of Ludwig. I would be interested to know who designed these castles and how much creative license Ludwig had in the creation of each one.

  2. Who doesn’t love a castle? My two boys are obsessed and we’d love to visit these. I just love all the stories you’ve uncovered about these castles – it really makes them come alive. Great photos too! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  3. Gorgeous!! The whole idea of a castle is enchanting enough, but King Ludwig’s seem to be among the most like fairy tales come to life. We loved this post and all of the fantastic pictures and great detail. #wkendtravelinspiration

  4. I haven’t visited any of them, but they all look so gorgeous! Schloss Linderhof is absolutely breathtaking, every time I see a photo from that castle, it instantly makes me want to go 😀

  5. Great list! I’ve only been to Neuschwanstein, but your list has me wanting to return to Germany and see even more of the beautiful castles!

  6. I LOVE Germany! Such a great country to go an experience! I’ve only been to Neuschwanstein from this list,but it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen! What a crazy castle! The others look incredible too and honestly I’m always looking for reasons to return to Germany … so here are some more! 😀

  7. Of King Ludwig’s castles, I’ve only been to Neuschwanstein. I’d like to visit them all someday. They are so detailed and straight out of a fairytale!

  8. I’m a sucker for castles – would love to go to these! The interiors are even more stunning than the outsides. It’s amazing how indulged some of these kings were – the grotto being a case in point, but all the more interesting for us to look at. And I never knew about King Ludwig’s death – how mysterious! Thanks for sharing.

  9. I knew that King Ludwig commissioned Schloss Linderhof but I didn’t know about the third. I loved seeing so many castles when I was in Germany and Austria. The history is so fascinating and they are all beautiful! #weekendwanderlust

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