Schloss Linderhof is the smallest of three castles built by King Ludwig II in Germany’s state of Bavaria in the mid to late 1800s. Simultaneously referred to as the ‘Fairy Tale King’ and ‘Mad King Ludwig,’ eccentric Ludwig is perhaps best known for having commissioned Neuschwanstein Castle, the so-called ‘Cinderella’ or ‘Disney Castle.’ He is said to have been obsessed with French culture, found inspiration in the architecture of Versailles, and reportedly wanted to infuse Bavaria with refined attractions. Linderhof Palace is the only one of his castles that the king lived to see completed.
In 1886, King Ludwig died under questionable circumstances, just days after he had been dethroned by the government on grounds that he was insane. Official reports maintained that the king died as a result of a suicidal drowning in a lake, but to this day, conspiracy theorists are quick to point out autopsy reports that the royal’s body didn’t show signs of drowning as there was no water in his lungs. A German author has even woven fact and fiction into a recently-released thrilled titled, The Ludwig Conspiracy.
In Oberammergau, where we’ve spent several months, King Ludwig is still fondly remembered. A street and cross country skiing race bear his name, and each year on the eve of his birthday, locals lug lumber to the top of a nearby mountain peak to erect a crown and cross, which they eventually set ablaze. While many were reportedly infuriated that King Ludwig spent so much money on the sumptuous palaces, it is interesting to note how much tourist revenue they bring to Germany today.
When I was a baby, my parents first introduced me to Linderhof, but despite living in Heidelberg for more than ten years, I hadn’t returned until earlier this summer. On a hot afternoon that is rare for the mountainous area, Shawn and I spent a few hours strolling the grounds of Linderhof. We arrived too late in the afternoon to tour the palace interior and all the quirky outlying buildings (like the Venus Grotto in which the king was rowed over the lake in a golden swan boat ) but enjoyed a sneak peek of the palace’s elegant grounds.
Have you been to Schloss Linderhof or any of King Ludwig’s castles? Which one was your favorite?
Photography & text © by Tricia A. Mitchell . All Rights Reserved.