He was a visionary, an aesthete and a fantasist with amazingly progressive ideas. Despite his government duties, he lived in his own dream world: the reclusive King Ludwig II lived to be only 41, but left behind four fantastic buildings in Bavaria. A tour of the world-famous castles of Neuschwanstein, Herrenchiemsee, Linderhof and the Schachenhaus at 1866 meters above sea level.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle stands above Hohenschwangau near Füssen in the southeastern Bavarian Allgäu region. It is one of the most famous sights in Germany.

Linderhof Castle

The "Royal Villa" can be found in the Upper Bavarian municipality of Ettal in southern Bavaria. The castle and the gardens with their park castles are open to visitors.

New Herrenchiemsee Palace

Located on Herrenchiemsee - the largest island of Lake Chiemsee in southern Bavaria - the palace was built under the so-called fairy-tale king Ludwig II, modeled after the Palace of Versailles near Paris.

Royal house at Schachen

The royal house is in 1866 Meter Height at the mountain Schachen south of Garmisch Partenkirchen in the Wetterstein mountains. It can only be reached via a 3 to 4 hour walk.

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The craziest building project in the 19th century: Neuschwanstein Castle

The building site for his first castle King Ludwig II had already spied out in his childhood: a craggy, 200-meter-high rock on the edge of the mountains near Füssen in the Allgäu. Not far from there, he grew up in Hohenschwangau Castle until he had to ascend the throne at the age of 18 following the sudden death of his father. In 1869, when Ludwig was 24 years old, he began building Neuschwanstein. From the outside, his new castle was to look like a medieval knight's castle. However, he planned the more than 200 rooms splendidly in the style of Romanesque, Gothic and Byzantine art, equipped with the latest technical achievements.

Until his death in 1886 not everything could be completed by a long shot. But what there is to see defies imagination: the sacred-looking throne room with Byzantine domes, the Singers' Hall with impressive murals depicting the Parzival saga, a spectacularly illuminated grotto in the palace, or his carved oak state bed in the bedroom. His dream world come true, where the king spent only 172 nights, also included a state-of-the-art kitchen, hot-air heating and industrial steel framed windows.

A tour of the castle is only possible as part of a guided tour. The Marienbrücke bridge over the Pöllatschlucht gorge, on the other hand, can be reached without paying an entrance fee. From here you have the best view, including a photo spot, of the fantasy castle with its pointed towers and white walls, as well as the surrounding mountain and lake landscape. By the way, the bridge was a birthday present from Ludwig's father for his wife, who loved the mountains very much.

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The little favorite castle: Linderhof Castle

Rococo style pleasure palace: Compared to King Ludwig II's other building projects, Linderhof Palace is a small building, a kind of personal retreat for the king. The eccentric monarch is said to have spent a lot of time in his favorite snow-white castle in the Ammergau Alps at an altitude of 1000 meters. Here, starting in 1870, he created a fantasy world for himself: optical illusions as well as light and mirror effects make the gold-decorated rooms with wall hangings and paintings, velvet and silk, crystal chandeliers and fine porcelain seem larger and more precious.

In the garden complex designed according to the French model with a fountain and a 22-meter high water fountain, there is also a Moorish kiosk with a peacock throne, a Moroccan house and the famous Venus Grotto. An "open sesame" rock leads into the man-made stalactite cave with lake and waterfall. Ludwig II had it built based on scenes from the opera "Tannhäuser" by his friend Richard Wagner. Here, too, the Bavarian regent was ahead of his time: the grotto was illuminated with electric arc lamps. The electricity required for this was generated by twelve dynamos in a machine house - one of the first German electricity plants.

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The understatement hut: Königshaus am Schachen

A rather plain wooden house sits enthroned above the clouds in the middle of the Wetterstein Mountains near Garmisch-Partenkirchen: From the outside, the honey-colored post-and-beam building is hard to see why it is called the Königshaus or Jagdschloss am Schachen and is considered Ludwig II's most idiosyncratic building project. The five living rooms in the basement are paneled with Swiss pine and furnished with simple oak furniture. But a spiral staircase leading to the upper floor transports the visitor into a fairy-tale world from the Arabian Nights. Ludwig's kingdom from the Orient consists of a Turkish hall with gold-decorated walls, a fountain in the middle of the room, embroidered divans, incense pots and glass windows with colorful ornaments. Stars and a huge golden chandelier glitter on the ceiling.

In the wooden house built around 1870 the king celebrated his birth and name days, enjoyed the peace and solitude and the view of the Zugspitze massif. Those who want to visit the unique combination of Orientalism and Bavaria at 1866 meters should be fit. Because the royal house can only be reached on foot during a three-hour hike or by mountain bike.

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The Bavarian Versailles: Herrenchiemsee Palace

The last building of King Ludwig II. was also his most expensive: it is said to have cost as much as Neuschwanstein and Linderhof combined, although it was far from being completed by the time of his death. As the Bavarian ruler was a great admirer of the French Sun King Louis XIV, he wanted to erect a monument to him and create his own personal Versailles Palace in a spectacular location in the middle of Lake Chiemsee.

For this purpose he bought the largest island of the Chiemsee, Herrenwörth - today: Herrenchiemsee, and began building his most magnificent residence in 1878. He surpassed the Versailles Hall of Mirrors by two meters with a 75-meter-long mirrored gallery, with gold-ornamented stucco work, 17 huge wall mirrors and 33 ceiling chandeliers. The grand staircase and the parade bedroom still leave one speechless today: the bedchamber was the most expensive room of the 19th century, with a three-by-two-and-a-half-meter gilded bed with canopy, the finest textiles and sculptural work; converted to today's euros, the entire furnishing is said to have cost around three million. Of course, the fairy-tale king also installed technical refinements in Herrenchiemsee, such as his mechanically operated "Tischlein deck dich" - a dining table that could be lowered into the kitchen and set there. The journey to the palace also looks like something out of a fairy tale: a steamboat takes you from Prien across Lake Chiemsee and then a carriage takes you to the palace, with the Bavarian mountains always in front of you.

Cover photo: Vision of a fairytale castle come true - Neuschwanstein at sunset © denis_333 - stock.adobe.com

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