King Ludwig II was a reclusive king who liked to left alone -- so much so, that he designed an entire palace complex around the concept of minimizing contact with other people. That palace, and its lovely grounds, would be isolated among the quiet hills and valleys tucked away from the nearest town (Oberammergau). That was Linderhof, one of the most beautiful attractions in Bavaria, and the only one of Ludwig's castles that he finished before he died. Between us, we've been to the Linderhof four times.
Linderhof was a sprawling complex of open fields and forest set on rolling hillsides. Scattered among it were a number of small landmarks, with the tiny Linderhof palace itself (first photograph above) positioned in the center with a huge fountain and special gardens on all sides. The palace and the spread of fountains and temples obverse to it (shown in the second photograph), were just the starting point. Like other of King Ludwig's castles (Neuschwanstein), the Linderhof palace interior required guided tours, and the tour times were assigned -- generally visitors could not pick and choose their time. Tours began every five minutes. They were available in various languages, and the schedule indicated which language was available for which tour.
The tour covered the entire palace, which was tiny -- containing only ten rooms, four of which were waiting rooms for the servants. In keeping with the King's reclusiveness, most of the amenities were designed to be enjoyed by the King alone. For example, the dining room table was built for only one person -- the King rarely entertained. The table was mounted on a platform that lowered into the kitchen like a dumbwaiter, making it possible for no servant to have to enter the dining room.
The predominant themes of the chambers was royal French. Ludwig apparently revered Louis XIV (whose Versailles Palace was an inspiration for Ludwig's), and much of the furnishings and decor are of that style. The corner chambers contained portraits of French nobility in round golden frames, with each chamber painted a different pastel color. Paintings of scenes from the pre-Revolution days can be found in a number of rooms. There also was a hall of mirrors, also emulating a room in Versailles, where all the walls were covered with mirrors. The throne room and royal bedroom were truly impressive with all the artwork, but it was so unusual to see them as such small rooms for a king.
Of course, the palace was just a small part of the tour. There were numerous monuments and attractions scattered throughout the grounds. The one nearest the entrance was the small Moroccan house, a striped sandstone structure done in a Moorish style. The house was just decorative. Visitors could only peer inside the 10-foot by 10-foot interior to see the decor. It was filled with magnificent, brightly gilded objects with tiles of reds and blues. The gardens that surrounding the palace were wonderful. The large golden statue in the wading pond, shown in the second photograph, was a fountain that was activated periodically through the day. The cascade of steps leading to the gazebo had small gardens at each level. Behind the palace was a beautiful cascade that emptied onto an elaborate Neptune-like statue erected before a patch of purple and white flowers shaped as a fleur-de-lis. Behind the Linderhof in the first photograph was a gazebo in the center of a long covered walkway forming a semi-circle around the back of the palace. This walkway was inside a wooden frame covered with ivies and flowers. It was spectacular when the flowers were blooming in the summertime.
The next attraction was the Grotto, located after a fairly high climb up the hill beyond the palace. The Grotto was an ode to Ludwig's favorite composer, Wagner, and was purely decorative. Passing into an unassuming but clearly artificial cave entrance, visitors are led through a cavern leading to the setting in the fourth photo. All around us were stairs and stalactites doused in colored lights. The photograph only shows a small part of the scene, with the fancy boat in the center of the pond. Be advised that the Grotto was part of the palace tour, and not a free attraction to enter. The tour inside the Grotto was guided.
Beyond, the Grotto was the Mauritian Kiosk shown in the fifth photo (with me sitting on the side) was another structure similar in function to the Moroccan House, a single room dimly lit buildings with extraordinary decor. Again, visitors were allowed entry only to a plexiglas-walled cul-de-sac just beyond the entrance curtain, but the sight was spectacular.
Linderhof was easily a good half-day visit, with plenty of time reserved for souvenir shopping and restaurants, which are plentiful near the parking lot. It was one of our favorite spots in southern Germany, and a prime place for us to take visitors on vacation. Summertime was naturally best when the gardens are full and the weather was better. However, this was very definitely a year-round location.
Trips taken 19 August 2000, 19 August 2001, 3 November 2004 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2001 Tom Galvin