King Ludwig II: Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Palace

You may know King Ludwig II as the mad king. However, I am hoping that after this piece you will no longer think that. He may not have been a good king, but he certainly was not crazy. He should have never been king. Just an architect who was allowed to build whatever he wanted.

My second day in Munich, my mom and I went on an excursion to two of Ludwig’s Castles. We had a private guide who drove us from Munich to Hohenschwangau, where castle Neuschwanstein is located. On the way to the castle our guide told us the history of King Ludwig and I was finding myself becoming engrossed.

Ludwig was born to Maximillian II and his wife Marie. His parents thought that the best parenting strategy was to let the nanny raise and school Ludwig. When Ludwig was around 12 his father decided to take him hunting and was very disappointed with way Ludwig was turning out. Ludwig loved art, music and architecture, he hated hunting. His father second guessed this parenting strategy.

At 18 Ludwig had to take the throne due to his father’s early death. He was not ready for this commitment. Soon after he became king a war broke out and he was going to have to choose which side he was going to be on. He chose wrong. He sent 10,000 of his troops into battle and they were slaughtered. After this Ludwig became a recluse. He was so depressed by his actions he did not want to have to deal with people. All he wanted to do was build castles so, that’s what he did. Therefore, he was not a very good king. He used all of his money and had to get loans from people. Due to this and his lack of concern with his people, they wanted to end his reign. In order to do that they would need to prove that he was unfit to rule. One of Ludwig’s servants found his journal and a page from it that would seem like nonsense to an outsider. However, the paper was just lines from some of Ludwig’s favorite operas. They took the journal entry to a psychiatrist who was paid to agree that he was unfit to rule. The authorities locked Ludwig in his room for one full day until, the psychiatrist came to talk with him. The two of them went for a walk around the lake. Then that evening Ludwig turn up dead and so did the psychiatrist. No one knows how either of them died but there are three different theories. The first theory is that Ludwig knew that his life was over and tried to kill the psychiatrist, they fought and both ended up dying in the fight. The second theory is that Ludwig had arranged a plan to flee. So, he killed the psychiatrist and tried to swim to the boat but it was to far and ended up drowning. The last theory is that there was a third-party involved. The third person was following Ludwig and the Psychiatrist to make sure everything went according to plan. But it didn’t. The psychiatrist saw that Ludwig was not crazy and changed his mind so the third person killed both of them. Not knowing how they died bugged me for the rest of the trip. I really wanted to know.

By the time that the guide had finished telling this story we could see Neuschwanstein. I knew exactly why Walt Disney had fallen in love with the castle. It was beautiful. Perched on the hill like a prize. It was raining when we went and the clouds were engulfing the turret making it look like we were in a fairytale. However, Ludwig never got the chance to finish this castle because of his death.

It was a trek to get up to the castle. You have to take a bus and then walk. However, there is a nice surprise on the walk up. A bridge that overlooks the magnificent castle. After Ludwig became a recluse he wanted no contact with people. So, the castle only has one bedroom and that was for Ludwig. The best way I can describe the castle is like a life-sized doll house. He hated being with people so much that he created a table that would descend into the kitchen so that he wouldn’t even have to see the servants. Then the table would come back up covered with food because Ludwig loved to eat. He would have 14 course meals.

The finished rooms of the castle each had different themes. Usually the themes consisted of different stories. Ludwig was obsessed with King Arthur so most of the stories where about him. There was one room that did not have a story on the wall, though it was still unique. Ludwig had made an indoor man-made cave. It was the strangest thing I have ever seen. There was no purpose to that room at all but he did what he wanted to do.

After that room, the tour was over and it was time to go back down the mountain. To get down we took a horse-drawn carriage. It was very pleasant to watch the trees and nature. From Neuschwanstein, we went to another one of Ludwig’s creations, Linderhof Palace. Linderhof is the only place that Ludwig fully completed. Linderhof is on the same land as his father’s hunting lodge. His father’s hunting lodge became a problem during Ludwig’s construction. It was in the way of his plans, so he had it moved. It is still on the property just in a different location. Linderhof palace is a grand place. It looks and feels like a mini Versailles. In Linderhof there is even a room of mirrors, nothing compared to the hall of mirrors in Versailles, though. There was also only one bedroom in the palace and it was copied from Luis XIV’s in Versailles. In the palace, Ludwig has picture and busts of Luis XIV. He wanted to be combination of Luis XIV and King Arthur. The gardens of Linderhof were pristine, symmetrical and vast. Ludwig designed a water feature that goes off at 4:30, that acts like a big geyser. Make sure you are aware of the wind direction because it is possible to get drenched. I don’t think that anyone would mind living there, but not by themselves. Once the tour was done we headed back to Munich and continue our adventure.

Katie

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