Here are some more reports from our exploratory trips around Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
"Enchanting" isn't aword I use willy-nilly. We found ourselves awstruck by the slice of heaven they call Schloss Linderhof.
This pint-sized palace was the favourite address of Bavarias fairytale king, Ludwig II, after a quick tour youll understand why.
Expectations were high. It would be hard to beat Neuschwanstein, Ludwig IIs infinitely more famous fairytale castle theyre now calling the eighth wonder of the world.
Compared to Neuschwanstein this palace was tiny. And quiet. Only a few groups of tourists were lingering at the long pool in the forecourt. Its an incredibly peaceful setting nestled in a valley at the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. Ahhthe serenity! So much serenity.
MAGNIFIQUE!: The palace was inspired by French Sun-King Louis XIV.
The tour begins...
An English-speaking group assembled in the
vestibule (entrance hall) where a tour guide came out to meet us.
She said this was Ludwigs favourite home, built on the site of his fathers old cottage and finished in 1878.
Ludwig lived over seven years of his life here compared to his 11 nights
at Neuschwanstein before he was declared insane and carted away.
The guide said Ludwig drew inspiration for Schloss Linderhof from his hero French Sun-King Louis XIV. Traces of the Sun-Kings Versailles palace are all over the palace and grounds.
We were led through a succession of rooms, each somehow more opulent than the next. First stop up the stairs was a tapestry chamber. Talk about spiffy! Every wall, chair and chest of drawers was gilded in gold and a fine mural graced the ceiling.
Next up the audience chamber. Quite small, but then again, the king never asked anyone over for tea and crumpets.
Ludwig was an incredible recluse and preferred to study in here, devouring books on art and architecture and thinking up grandiose schemes to glorify his kingdom. Still, I couldnt imagine a finer setting for an afternoon sandwich with the Queen of Spain or whoever.
IMMACULATE: The palace and grounds of Schloss Linderhof were exquisitely designed.The masterful bedroom
The audience chamber was amazing enough, but the bedchamber took the prize. Its the largest room in the palace and crowned with a 108-candle crystal chandelier.
The golden balustrade blocking off the bed must surely have been a recipe for disaster. Just think of the trips he must have had making midnight runs to the bathroom after all that delicious Bavarian beer!
The tour guide explained that the balustrade was to give the Ludwigs resting place the appearance of an altar, further glorifying his kingly goodness.
Ludwig subscribed to the absolutist school of rule, believing the king was anointed by God and could do whatever the hell he liked.
Next up was the dining room, where Ludwig dined alone. I mean really alone. Ludwig had a magic table installed which could be lowered and raised to and from kitchen.
Staff cooked and served meals without ever coming face to face with the king. But who would he have complained to if there was a fly in his soup?
The final showpiece room was the Hall of Mirrors. Ludwig used to stay up late at night reading by candlelight reflected into infinity. He had the two mantelpieces decorated with lapis-lazuli gemstone and paced back and forth on an ostrich plume rug.
PERSPECTIVE: The palace grounds have some spectacular look-out points.
Gardens of pleasure
The tour done, we strolled the ornamental gardens and found a few more echoes of the French Sun-King. A flower bed shaped like a bourbon emblem graced the back courtyard and a bust of Louis XIV lorded over the eastern terrace.
At the back of the palace we found the cascade, an artificial waterfall streaming gently down 30 steps and culminating at a statue of sea god Neptune at the bottom. We headed up the hill to the Venus Grotto.
This was an artificial cave cut out of the rock. Made for private performances of Richard Wagners operas, it has a small lake, a waterfall and one of the first electric lighting systems in the kingdom.
The lights could even change color to suit the mood of the scene being played out.
Ludwig would swan about on the lake in a shell-shaped boat while actors and musicians got it on for an audience of one. Hows that for some royal privilege!
Walking back to our bikes we peeked into some of the other outbuildings. There was a cute Moroccan cottage and a Moorish Kiosk with a peacock-themed throne.
FANTASIA: The Venus Grotto at Schloss Linderhof was Ludwig's private theatre.They say Ludwig liked to live out flamboyant fantasies within.
His servants donned Eastern gowns and sat cross-legged smoking hookah pipes as musicians and dancers entertained.
The palace and gardens had us thrilled. As good as Neuschwanstein? Every little bit and more.
Article by Stuart Anderson
Message Edited by LL_Travelfan on 10-03-2009 10:44 AM