Linderhof, Bavaria: Failed Versailles!

A cascade in Linderhof, Bavaria, Germany.

A cascade in Linderhof, Bavaria, Germany.

Who has not tried to replicate Versailles, the famous palace of Louis XIV, the king of France? Just look at Sanssouci, Peterhof, or Schoenbrunn to name a few. The young king of Bavaria, Ludwig II, also didn’t remain uninvolved. When he ascended the throne in 1864, at the age of 18, he immediately started to build his fairy tale castles and palaces. One of them, Linderhof, was supposed to be a new Versailles in the Bavarian Alps near the Linder River.

King Ludwig’s landscaper and Court Garden Director, Carl von Effner (1831-1884), developed fourteen projects of the park before the king realized that this area was too small for a replication of Versailles Park and dropped this idea. Later, it was created on the island of Herrenwörth on Lake Chiemsee and called Herrenchiemsee. Linderhof was destined to become a mini-palace, in fact, a royal “country palace,” and the only building completed in Ludwig’s life. The king spent most of his time there. Today, this is a museum.

Linderhof Palace, Bavaria, Germany.

Linderhof Palace, Bavaria, Germany.

Linderhof Palace, Bavaria, Germany.

Water Parterre, Linderhof park, Bavaria, Germany.

Water Parterre

Neptune Fontain, Linderhof, Bavaria, Germany.

Neptune Fontain

Taking photographs is forbidden inside the palace. Why? Later, I will try to take a guess. Meanwhile, let’s go in. Only guided tours are possible. They are conducted in English and German. It was a gloomy autumn morning, so, not surprisingly, Irina and I were the only guests. Our guide switched on soft music and began to talk. I didn’t listen because I was prepared for this visit, and had read everything that was possible to find on King Ludwig and his architectural activity. Instead, I tried to understand why I felt something strange in this building. I have visited more European castles and palaces than I can count, but only there, in Linderhof, did I have such a feeling. What was the matter? I started to understand it near the end of the excursion.

Like everything in the life of the “fairy tale king,” this palace seemed a little bit theatrical, or fake. The building that looks like stone is built of wood. The gobelin room has no gobelins, but just painted à la gobelin walls. Gold is everywhere, too much gold. I understand that the Sun King Louis XIV was able to use all the gold of France to decorate his palace. Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, was able to use tons of gold for decoration of her palace in Tsarskoye Selo. They were absolute monarchs. Ludwig was not (although he dreamed to be). There was also a government which thought that Ludwig spent money on “nothing,” and tried to restrict him.

So why is Linderhof full of gold? Is it gold at all? And if yes, how thick is the layer of gold on the moldings? Unfortunately, I had no opportunity to peel off a piece of gold decoration and test it by sinking my tooth into it. The guide kept her eyes on me the whole time.

Audience room, Linderhof Palace, Bavaria, Germany.

Audience room

Bedroom, Linderhof Palace, Bavaria, Germany.

Bedroom

Venus Grotto (I called it a “concert cave”) is an artificial construction, but created so naturally and masterfully that once inside, you feel as if you are in a real cave deep underneath. It was a concert hall of King Ludwig. Here, boating on the lake, he listened to operas by Wagner all alone. Waves on the cave lake were generated by special machine: one of the first electrical engines in Europe. The water was heated, and young nymphs swam there. It looks like Ludwig “invented” disco light. Lights were changed by the use of metal plates. An advanced theatrical stage.

Venus Grotto, Linderhof, Bavaria, Germany.

Venus Grotto

Venus Grotto, Linderhof, Bavaria, Germany.

A picturesque area near the Linder River in the Bavarian Alps was one of the favorite hunting places of Ludwig’s father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria, where they often stayed in the forester’s house (later a Royal Lodge) which was on the royal property. As you may know, the Sun King Louis XIV of France built Versailles on the location of his father’s hunting house. Fairy tale King Ludwig did the same. However, he left the Royal Lodge in Linderhof Park, just moved it 300 meters to the west. It’s still there to this day.

There are many interesting and symbolic places in the park. If you have time, you will find them. Here is a map:

The map of Linderhof gardens and park, Bavaria, Germany.

The map of Linderhof gardens and park. Click to enlarge.

I highly recommend visiting Linderhof and its gardens. The palace is toy, but charming. The gardens are modest, but cozy. The fountains with their sculptures are splendid. The “concert cave” is artificial, but magical.

Later, we visited Herrenchiemsee New Palace, King Ludwig’s own Versailles. Yes, it is a real palace, enormous and majestic, but you know what: If I had been invited to choose where I would prefer to live, I would have chosen Linderhof.

Music Pavilion, Linderhof park, Bavaria, Germany.

Music Pavilion

Linderhof Palace, Bavaria, Germany.

Neptune Fontain, Linderhof, Bavaria, Germany.

 

More about Germany:

Neuschwanstein Castle: Decoration for Life
History of One Picture: Neuschwanstein Castle
Three Castles of Germany: Marksburg, Burg Eltz, and Burg Stahleck

32 Responses to “Linderhof, Bavaria: Failed Versailles!”

  1. Rolf Achilles Says:

    Thank you for your ongoing, always superb blog and pictures. While cozy, magical Linderhof may have started as an homage to Versailles it did not become one as much as nearby Herrenchiemsee Schloss did which you mention only in closing. Like Versailles, Herrenchiemsee is a showplace and really to be lived in other than maybe on a warm summer’s day. Thanks again for your ever informative posts. Rolf Achilles

    Liked by 2 people

  2. wordsfromanneli Says:

    Your info and photos are always excellent. The inside of the palace with all its “gold” looks quite disgusting to me, but you’ve done a great job of showing the waste and decadence of the building – the misguided goals of yet another “Sun King.” Let’s hope the money the tourists spend on seeing it makes up for the waste of the money it took to build it. Great post, Victor.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Victor Tribunsky Says:

      Thank you, Anneli.
      I am sure the government of Bavaria is very glad that Ludwig built this palace and other his palaces and castles. Today, this objects generate incom. For example, more than 400,000 people visit Linderhof annually. Neuschwanstein Castle has much more visitors.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rolf Achilles Says:

        For many years the income from Neuschwanstein and Linderhof has supported all the restoration and preservation and some of the staff necessary to maintain the many historical sites in all of Bavaria.

        Liked by 1 person

      • wordsfromanneli Says:

        I can see the attraction of Neuschwanstein because it is the “Walt Disney fairy castle,” but this other one … well, it just doesn’t seem to be done in very good taste. But if it brings income, I suppose it’s doing some good.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Timothy Says:

    Mmmm I must do Ludwig II’s castles

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ann_Cherry Says:

    WOW! An amazing place like the historical places in the historical novels I have read. I wish to visit something magical like this. Keep visiting and blogging awesome places! Fighting!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. a mindful traveler Says:

    So grand and elaborate Victor. I have heard many good things about this castle in Bavaria. Can’t wait to see these castles for myself! 🙂

    Like

  6. leo f. brady Says:

    lovely work Victor

    Liked by 1 person

  7. David H. Callahan Says:

    The fundamental decorative failing of Linderhof is the scale of its interior spaces. Most of the rooms are too small and ceilings too low to contain the extravagant exuberance of their rococo furnishings. The atmosphere is cramped and oppressive almost everywhere except in the cerulean and gold royal bedroom. (There the space is magical and promises wonderful things to follow.) Nevertheless, all of the decor is remarkably beautiful and worthy of perusal. Ludwig himself oversaw nearly every detail of its execution, sending many things back to the makers for reworking when they did not fulfill his vision. Having grown up at Hohenschwangau castle where the scale of things was surprisingly small, he apparently underestimated the importance of large spaces to the ambitious plans he had. After Linderhof he never made that mistake again.

    The romantic myth of Ludwig the Dream King and builder of castles has become quite popular. It is unfortunate that the real monarch was self-absorbed and mentally unstable. He did not love people, but his legacy to the people of his kingdom was prosperity through tourism. It is too bad that he (and his money) did not last long enough to realize his fantasy of building a Chinese palace and another Gothic castle even grander than his incomparable Neuschwanstein.

    Ludwig was undeniably mad, but it can certainly be argued that the real madness would have been squandering the treasury on an unwinnable war with Prussia. Better to have spent the money creating palaces than cemeteries.

    Like

    • Victor Tribunsky Says:

      Exactly, David. I even didn’t think about the size of rooms and the height of ceilings as a reason of that strange feeling inside the palace. Exactly.
      Many thanks for such a thoughtful comment. This is a real esse.

      Like

  8. thewonderer86 Says:

    Great post. Really interesting read, and fantastic photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. lifeinkarolingston Says:

    One of my favourite palaces I have been to. Great post and beautiful photos! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. MassageFeels Says:

    Always love your posts for the history, travel, beautiful photos, and your personal interpretation of the experience, Victor – thank you! I’ve heard of King Ludwig and his fairytale castles, but have not seen pictures of Linderhof. Thanks for this journey :-)!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. BBQboy Says:

    That Ludwig was one crazy guy. I remember visiting Neuschwanstein and thinking “what the hell…”.
    Imagine having the ability to blow that much cash…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Victor Tribunsky Says:

      Such “crazy” men make a history of a country.
      When I say “Bavaria,” which associations you have besides BMW and beer? In my case, it is Neuschwanstein, or Linderhof, or Herrenchiemsee. Who built them?
      How many Bavarian kings people still remember? Only one.
      Thank you, Frank.

      Like

  12. spankynet1 Says:

    Victor, next time you should have Irina really engage/distract the guide and get your hands on some of that gold :). Kidding aside, I often have mixed feeling visiting palaces. I sometimes feel like I’m not allowed to take everything at my own pace and often disappointed when photos are not allowed. I tend to enjoy the gardens more. Beatiful shots as always. I feel they always capture the romance of the places you visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wise Hearted Says:

    I would love to visit this place ,not so much the buildings, a little too much for my taste but the grounds and the country side where it was built. I remember visiting Hurst castle in California and thinking this man had too much money for his good. I was impressed by the in house pool…would have loved to swim. I do wonder though what makes one want to visit these sites when the world is full of natural wonders? Thank you for the walk through all the beauty though, I would probably do it once then sit out side for hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Victor Tribunsky Says:

      Thank you, Betty.
      You are right, our planet is full of natural wonders, however, there is a group of people who loves nature as you love it, but they also want to enjoy Milan Cathedral, paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci, or operas by Richard Wagner.

      Like

      • Wise Hearted Says:

        I remember once on a tour in Israel sitting at a café at the sea of Galilee with people from all over the world wondering why everyone else was there. I knew I was there because as a believer in Jesus Christ I wanted to see the place where He lived and walked, etc. The man sitting next to me was not a Christian and he said he was interested in Israel because that is where history all started. You American are so young in history and the rest of the world is so old…that started a while new train of thought in my mind. I would enjoy seeing and especially hearing the history of any place, I just enjoy nature the most.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Victor Tribunsky Says:

          I have the same feelings to Israel and this region.

          Like

          • Wise Hearted Says:

            Well, I just looked at your picture on your Israel tour…wonderful. I got the privilege of singing, Amazing Grace at Caesarea. It was emotional so tears flowed as my vocal cords tried to push past the tears. I am going to take the time to visit all the place you have pictures of and pick out a place I would like to visit. We have lived in Bolivia, SA and Papua New Guinea. So we have only traveled on one way tickets as I call it. Someday I would like to travel more on a round trip ticket. Glad I found your site.

            Like


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