Saturday, 10 October 2015

Exploring Linderhof Castle

Picture taken by yours truly
Ludwig II. of Bavaria was probably one of the most excentric personalities of his time. His obsession with his namesake king Ludwig XIV. of France and anything baroque and romantic led to the construction of 3 remarkable castles. Last year I finally got the chance to visit Neuschwanstein and this year, we made a day trip to Linderhof, the only one of his ambitious projects, he was actually able to finish before his death.

Smaller in size than expected, this small piece of baroque extravaganza is situated on a large terrain surrounded by hills and mountains. Just exploring the grounds itself makes the trip worth it. Because of the sheer size of the area, you can spend almost an entire day there. 

The castle itself is at the center of a lovely garden. Both, the castle and the grounds, are modeled after Ludwig XIV.'s Versailles. Looking down from either side at the end of the garden, you can see that everything is in almost perfect symmetry. Statues decorate the entire garden and if you come in the summer, you will even get to walk in the shade of beautiful passages. 
Inside the castle, everything is as exquisitely kitschy as can be. The rooms are small, but decorated up to the tiniest corner with marble, tapestries and of course a bit of gold. You will also be able to see Ludwig's famous "Tischlein deck' dich", the dining room table, which could be transported downstairs easily, so that the king would not be disturbed and could fully indulge in his daydreams. Tours through the château take about 20-30 minutes. Dogs are allowed, but have to be carried. If you are fortunate enough to be a student, admission will be free. 
The view over the garden from the top of the cascade
The view from the south end of the garden
 Once you have finished the tour through the castle itself, you can walk around the area and take a look at the Venus Grotto, which acts as a set for Richard Wagner's "Tannhäuser". Supported by music, light and a play of colours, you can only imagine, what it must have been like for Ludwig, when he himself had spent his time there.
Not far away you will find the Moorish kiosk. I have to admit that it is rather weird to see a building like this within this very German and green scenery. It is a bit out of place, but is still nice to look at.
The Moorish kiosk
the only thing I was not able to see and which still aggravates me, is the Hunding's Hut, also modeled after one of Wagner's pieces ("the Valkyrie") and is also shown in Visconti's 1972 film "Ludwig".  I was very eager to see this place but well... sometimes life (or impatient parents) gets in the way. 
Strolling around the garden
the view toward the southern terrace
As with other attractions involving Ludwig II. it is advisable to avoid coming in August, as this is the busiest time of the year. When we visited Linderhof in September (during the week) there were still a lot of people, but despite that you could move around quite easily. 

After the slight disappointment at Neuschwanstein last year (mostly due to the fact, that you just get shoved through the castle without being able to really look around), I have to say that Linderhof was a lot more enjoyable. The castle is small and the tour is short as well, but there is still so much see I actually prefer it over Neuschwanstein. 
The entire castle and the grounds seem to be like a big playground mixing different styles of architecture and periods to suit the taste of a man who never seemed to fit into his own surroundings.

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