Germany – Castles of Bavaria
My wife and I once stayed in a guest house in a small village about a kilometer or two away from
the enchanting castle Neuschwanstein – King Ludwig’s masterpiece – with imposingly towers high
above the valley below.
King Ludwig was an enigmatic person; someone who became king at the age of 18, but who
soon became alienated from his royal duties, escaping into worlds of the imagination which he
tried to create by building extraordinary castles. In them the influence of Wagner’s operas, in
which he saw all his romantic dreams realized, is remarkably noticeable.
Ludwig spent his childhood at Hohenschwangau, a majestic golden coloured castle in the woods
in between two beautiful lakes near Füssen. The paintings of German legends in this castle
captivated the prince and intensified his romantic outlook on life.
When visiting the castles, I would advise to start with the first one that he erected, namely
Linderhof, in the Graswang Valley close to Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. Inspired by
Wagner, he desired in a way to recreate the world of “Tannhäuser” here, as well as the Versailles
Palace in France. Linderhof was completed in 1878. The gardens and terraces surrounding it
cover an area of 50 hectares and is one of the finest examples of historism in garden design:
parts are in Baroque style, others in the Italian Renaissance style, and some sections with
similarities to the English Garden.
The interior includes rooms such as a Tapestry Chamber, Yellow, Lilac, Pink and Blue Rooms, as
well as a Hall of Mirrors. The numerous small buildings surrounding Linderhof are embodiments
of Ludwig’s imagination: in the “Moroccan House” he tried to revive the fairytale world of the
“Arabian Nights”; in “Hunding’s Cabin” he wanted to re-experience the mythical content of the
“Walküre’; in the golden skiff on the lake of the “Venus Grotto” he desired to feel the enchantment of “Tannhäuser” …
However, a visit to Neuschwanstein was – for us – the highlight. This castle, situated high up on
the mountainside, became the model on which all fairy-tale castles are based, renowned
throughout the world. You can reach it by taking the coach drawn by horses up the steep incline,
or like we did, choose to walk al the way, following the path meandering through the surrounding
forest. Only then will you really become aware of the awesomeness of this imposing monument
created by a person trying to escape into a dream-world.
And then, standing on a narrow bridge way up behind the castle, looking down at this fairyland,
you will be thankful that you have visited this region, not missing such an enriching experience!