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 people 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?
Where in the World?
- Opening times vary by season, so check Linderhof’s official site to confirm the opening hours. If you’re visiting more than one of King Ludwig’s castles, consider the ‘Königsschlösser Combination Ticket’, since it offers lower rates than if you purchased the tickets individually.
- The Linderhof Palace brochure (pdf format) gives an overview of Linderhof’s history and the structures you’ll find on the grounds. Likewise, this brochure focuses on King Ludwig II and His Castles.
- To make the trip independently via the German rail or by bus, consider getting the Bayern or Regio Ticket (website in German, but you can use Google Translate). These special tickets start at €20/25 for one passenger, and cost €6 for each additional passenger. You can use them to travel via bus and train throughout much of the region, making them a better deal if you want to make a few stops in a day. You can purchase tickets online, via a ticket machine, or in person.
- If you’re interested in learning more about Bavaria’s beloved King Ludwig, you can download the free app ‘Ludwig II – Walking in the Footsteps of a Fairytale King’ from the iTunes store.
- Are you looking for a guesthouse or hotel in Oberammergau? Before my parents moved there, Shawn and I spent two nights at the Gästehaus Hildegard (affiliate link). We thought the beds were comfortable, the owners were helpful and kind, and the breakfast was tasty. The guest house is centrally located in the town too, and it’s not far from the Tiroler Gasse bus stop. The train station is also only about 1 km away.
- Need more inspiration as you plan your travels in Germany? My Germany guide includes more trip tips.
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.