As a teen living in Germany, I tromped through all the major tourist attractions in Bavaria. In 1994, I excitedly introduced Tony to the region on a road trip with my family. Good thing I have no long-term memory! Last week we visited two castles of King Ludwig II near Garmisch, and I didn’t even experience a single déjà vu.
The unfortunate king led a seemingly lonely life, which ended under mysterious circumstances. I checked out numerous websites, but Wikipedia’s Ludwig II of Bavaria page seems to cover all the bases.
Here is an interesting article with photos from The Atlantic commemorating last year’s 125th anniversary of the king’s death.
On Dec. 26, we drove to Linderhof Palace, the only one of Ludwig II’s buildings completed in his lifetime. Enchanted by the snow-covered landscape and Baroque façade, we were disappointed to see the garden sculptures and fountains covered with protective wooden boxes. The tour excluded the stage sets based on Richard Wagner’s operas. I had hoped to see the Venus Grotto, which features 19th-century high-tech illumination.
Check out this virtual tour, which takes the same path we did to explore the beautifully preserved extravagances of the eccentric king. (For the English version, click on the Union Jack flag in the upper right-hand corner and then click on “Palace Tour” in the left-hand menu.)
On Dec. 27, Mike and Summer spent another grueling day on (and off) their snowboards while the rest of us headed for Füssen to get reacquainted with Neuschwanstein Castle. Once we got there, Mom and Dad opted instead to check out the king’s boyhood home, Hohenschwangau Castle, rebuilt by his father Maximillian II in the Gothic style starting in 1832.
The anticipation of being the first in the car to spot a famous architectural wonder was squashed with the sight of Neuschwanstein wrapped in scaffolding. Here’s how it looked from the parking lot.
Although horse-drawn carriages carried tourists up the hill, Tony and I enjoyed walking in the fresh, brisk air. It took about 20 minutes to reach the castle, not counting a refreshment stop for “quarkbällchen” (hot doughnut balls with powdered sugar) and a mug of glühwein.
At the entrance to the castle, we had about 15 minutes to kill before the scheduled English-language tour. I took just one photo before realizing we were standing with about a hundred other tourists on a platform – which appeared to be constructed out of aluminum foil – jutting out over the valley.
The tour was short but fascinating; only 14 rooms were finished before the king’s sudden death. How bizarre to walk through the king’s ornate salon into an artificial cave straight out of a Wagnerian opera and then back into a study with inlaid wood floors and heavy brocade curtains.
Here’s another virtual tour from the Free State of Bavaria’s Palace Department, which shows interior rooms we weren’t allowed to photograph.