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With his bold and audacious architectural visions, King Ludwig II managed to create an unmistakable style which nowadays you can only find – if at all – in the Spanish buildings of Gaudi or the daring architectural sculptures of Frank Gehry. His buildings changed the Bavarian cultural landscape.

The cornerstone for the castle, which was to later become world-famous under the name of Neuschwanstein, was laid in 1869. King Ludwig II was already planning to make Neuschwanstein his primary residence upon completion of the first part of the castle in 1884. Despite its medieval appearance, Neuschwanstein was built with the most modern construction techniques. In actual fact, he only spent a total of 172 days at his beloved “Schwanenburg”, far away from the political intrigues of Munich, until his premature death two years later. Its iconographic silhouette and fairy-tale location have made Neuschwanstein Castle one of the most famous buildings in the world.

His two other Bavarian palaces – Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee – will also forever remain associated with the name of King Ludwig II. Linderhof Palace, the small château which looks a lot like a mansion, has almost fairy-tale features. Constructed very much in the style of French absolutism, King Ludwig II had wonderful fountains laid out in the park and built an illuminated Grotto lake with a wave machine, the perfect allusion to the Blue Grotto of Capri. He also created his first Tischleindeckdich’or Wishing-Table.

Whilst Linderhof was being completed, his next construction project was already beginning on Herreninsel island in Lake Chiemsee. King Ludwig II had bought the island in 1873 in order to realise his very own version of Versailles. Herrenchiemsee Palace was planned to be a private retreat for King Ludwig II. Unfortunately, it was never completed and King Ludwig II only lived there for ten days in 1885.

Less well-known is an Alpine jewel – the King’s House on Schachen – which the king had built in 1869 to allow him to retreat to the seclusion of the mountains. Even here, far away from civilisation, he proved himself to be a master of staging. From the outside the House appears to be a simple mountain chalet and one would never guess that there is a luxuriously-furnished Turkish Room on the top floor.

Frowned upon during the king’s lifetime as the culmination of his extravagance and wastefulness, the Bavarian royal castles and palaces are now some of the most important cultural assets of the Free State of Bavaria.



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