We managed to squeeze in one more trip before the end of the year when we visited the south of Germany this month. There was so much Christmas. 🎄
We visited Nuremberg, Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen (which is pretty much on the border to Austria). Surrounded by the snowy tips of some of the biggest mountains in Germany, we ate, we laughed, we 🎄christmased🎄 but, most unexpectedly, we discovered a lot about King Ludwig II of Barvaria, also known as “the Fairy Tale King”.
When we decided to visit Neuschwantstein Castle, located an hours drive from where we were staying in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, it was mainly because the place looked magical and pretty, and it was famous as the pinnacle of the fairy tale castle. We didn’t realise we were going to become intrigued with Ludwig II whilst we were there.
After Bulvaria was conquered by Prussia in the 1800’s, Ludwig became a leader who basically just had to turn up and smile and wave. However, he became obsessed with crazy ideas and borrowed a lot of money to fulfill his passions and dreams, including the construction of Neuschwanstein Castle. However, Ludwig never got the chance to complete his vision with Neuschwanstein because, at age 40, he was declared insane by the government and arrested before he could finish it. A few days after his arrest, Ludwig was found mysteriously drowned in Lake Starnberg.
Ludwig has inspired many people all over the world and that was made clear to us when we saw the crowds at Neuschwanstein . It wasn’t the peak tourist season when we visited but every single regular tour around the castle was full of people. The castle is just as spectacular as all of the pictures. Although, the most beautiful images show the castle covered in snow and it was not quite cold enough for that when we were there.
However, what people don’t realise, or seem to forget about Neuschwanstein, is that it is technically uncompleted. This means there were only a few rooms which were finished, which made the audio tour very short considering how big the castle looks on the outside. It actually felt like there were more gift shops than actual rooms (there were actually only two gift shops but you get my point). You are not allowed to take photos inside but the rooms that were there were magnificent and luxurious, like you would expect.
My main point is that Neuschwanstein is catered heavily towards tourism and has adapted to accommodate more than 1.3 million visitors every year. The tour is short and swift to make way for the next group of people and there is not as much inside the castle as people might believe. Basically, Neuschwanstein is good for Instagram photos of the outside, making you look like a princess, but that might be about it. 😜
However, Linderhof Palace was a whole other story…
Ludwig considered Linderhof Palace as his own private abode. This place is much, much smaller than any of the other castles Ludwig constructed and it was only meant to house one person and a handful of servants. This made the tour of the palace much more intimate, especially considering the rooms and objects were never allowed to be seen by anyone except Ludwig himself because he declared the palace not for strangers.
After reading about the palace, we decided to visit Linderhof that day after our trip to Neuschwanstein and I’m so glad we did. It wasn’t busy and the tour guide was so clever and funny. We really didn’t enjoy the audio guides in Germany and found them really dull, but our “real human” guide gave us a bigger insight into Ludwig and his life than Neuschwainstein did.
Linderhof palace is also a completed work of art, unlike Neuschwanstein, so every room is made to perfection and has a purpose for Ludwig’s daily routine. There was a room full of mirrors where Ludwig could marvel in endless reflections, and his dining room had a table that was cranked down into the floor so the king could eat several courses without being disturbed. The disappearing table still works to this day.
Our guide had a love for Ludwig that was really beautiful and she gave us the best bits of personal information about him, including that he read one book every day, he spoke seven languages (including English which I was really shocked by) and she talked about some of the crazy ideas he thought up. Ludwig developed lights that ran on electricity before the light bulb was invented, and he had a central heating system in the palace.
There were also a lot of outdoor sights in the palace gardens but these were only open to the public in the summer so we unfortunately didn’t get to see the random huts of culture Ludwig placed in his gardens. This included a Moorish kiosk, a Moroccan house and Ludwig’s very own private artificial cave grotto with a lake and ahead-of-its-time changing coloured lights illuminating the water.
Our guide said that whenever Ludwig’s servants and workers told him that his idea was impossible and could not be done, Ludwig said something along the lines of “I don’t care how it is done, I just want it done”. The king held the belief that if an idea can be imagined, there is always a solution. Our guide also said Ludwig never had access to any tax money so all of his crazy ideas and buildings were paid for by borrowing privately.
As apposed to the audio guides we had been enduring which discussed who had made a certain chair or painting 🙄, Linderhof Palace focused on the man behind all of it, and that was much more inspirational and fulfilling to me. Neuschwanstein Castle is undoubtedly stunning and you will get amazing photos, but if you really want to delve into the brain and heart of Ludwig II, Linderhof Palace is a must see!