Ludwig II is one of the more well known Bavarian kings, living from 1845- 1886. His legacy is the fairy tale palaces and castles that he commissioned and helped design, basing them off ancient mythology, religion and Wagner’s music. Ludwig was an eccentric king – jokingly referred to as ‘The Moon King’, as he slept through the day and was awake at night, he wasn’t a very popular king either. He was deposed of the throne in 1886, on the grounds of being mentally unstable. He was taken to a palace where he was meant to be confined as a patient, but mysteriously died the next day with his psychiatrist. To celebrate Ludwig’s birthday, 25 August 1845, I thought it would be a great opportunity to check out his two architectural masterpieces.
Linderhorf Palace was the only one of Ludwig’s projects that was completed while he was alive. It was inspired by the Palace of Versailles in France, but a miniature version due to the size constraints. The Palace has a gorgeous garden and fountain area, as well as ornate rooms. You have to enter with a guided tour, and you are not allowed to take any photographs inside the palace. The guided tour goes for about 30 minutes, and the guide gives a fantastic overview of the different styles that come together in the castle as well as more about Ludwig’s life.
Once we finished the guided tour we headed outside to look at the gardens. You can see a fantastic statue of Poseidon, with archways leading up the hill. Around the other side are winged angels and other statues. Unfortunately we went on a tour, so had only an hour (including the tour) to spend here. We quickly headed down to check out the souvenir shop.
Neuschwanstein Castle was truly Ludwig’s brain child, it was built in the area that he grew up in. Ludwig and his brother had an unusual upbringing, they were kept away from their mother and father. In fact, when Ludwig ascended the throne when he was 18, it appears he did not have much political training at all! The castle was not completed before his death, but his family did finish it for him and open it to the public. This castle is also the one that Disney based the Sleeping Beauty castle off!
To get up to the castle you have 3 options – a 40 minute walk, a bus ride + 15 minute walk or a horse drawn carriage + 15 minute walk. Rather unfortunately, we opted for the 40 minute walk. While I did manage to catch a few Pokemon on the way, I was huffing and puffing by the time we reached the castle. The road walking up to the castle is also littered with horse poop, giant piles which aren’t cleared away very regularly. So visitor have to watch their step.
The ticket that you purchase to enter the castle has a guided tour time – you can’t enter the castle without the guide (again). The tours run every five minutes, and are honestly so rushed. Tour groups are literally pushed room to room by other groups.The inside of the castle is very stuff on a hot day, combined with the smell of everyone’s sweat who walked up – it’s not a great experience. No photos can be taken inside the castle, but it is absolutely breathtaking.
Once finished with the castle, we had to run back down the mountain to catch our bus back to Munich. Overall it was a great way to celebrate Ludwig’s birthday. At night the areas that have his castles celebrate and at midnight on the 25th – beacons are lit on some of the hills. It’s a shame that Ludwig, not only died young, but did not have the opportunity to showcase more of his creativity.