Wishes Are Only Granted in Fairy Tales
October 17, 2016 12:42 AM   Subscribe

The magnificent, insane castles of Ludwig II of Bavaria are slowly decaying. (Come for the architecture, stay for the orgies and proposed bank robberies.) As the article notes, "Ludwig kept hundreds of upholsterers, wood carvers and gilders busy, along with engineers and Siemens technicians." He spent himself into debt for the sake of his castles, many of which were designed after inspirations from Wagner, and some of which may have been built specifically for Wagner performances.

Neuschwanstein -- floorplans

Linderhof -- photos -- Venus Grotto

Herrenchiemsee, modeled on Versailles -- floor plan with photos

King's House on Schachen (Königshaus am Schachen or Schachenhaus), a hunting lodge only reachable by 3-4 hours hike

The Winter Garden at the Munich Residenz (traditional home of the Bavarian monarchy)

Falkenstein, never built -- as Ludwig aged and grew crazier, architects realized they didn't have to create realistic plans
posted by Eyebrows McGee (23 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
 
I visited Neuschwanstein in 2013, I think, and it's really something else. Well worth the visit. I didn't know about all the other, unfinished projects of his, but it lines up with what I saw at Neuschwanstein, where only 13 rooms (?) are finished.
posted by Harald74 at 1:39 AM on October 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Before we ridicule poor Ludwig too much though, remember that his contemporaries around Europe built all matter of follies on their estates. Only a matter of economic resources seems to have kept them from going as far as Ludwig.
posted by Harald74 at 1:45 AM on October 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I can say that the board game version is quite fun, at least.
posted by NMcCoy at 1:55 AM on October 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Neuschwanstein is insane. A Liberace fever-dream. I can't wait to return.
posted by Optamystic at 2:39 AM on October 17, 2016


I'd wanted to go to Neuschwanstein for ages, I'm not really 100% sure why but we finally drove the Romantic Road this summer and went to the castle at the end. Its an impressive structure, looks pretty cool as you drive down, just sitting on the side of the mountain. It is just weird how its been designed, the cave in the middle of the castle being the standout, you open a door and are in a cave (or grotto), right down to dripping wet looking walls, then you go through the opposite door and are back in a late 19th century castle, because Why not, its in Wagner!?
posted by biffa at 2:47 AM on October 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Linderhof is a bizarre bijou castle-ette delight. I'm not surprised the Germans came up with the pocket battleship, they'd done the pocket castle for practice.
posted by Major Clanger at 4:16 AM on October 17, 2016


Is this a safe place to confess? My castle is only accessible via an underwater tunnel. You have to jump off this cliff to get to it. Look out for the lava. Once you get inside, you're going to love the Adventure Time pixel art.

I love minecraft. I understand the impulse to build castles.
posted by adept256 at 4:51 AM on October 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


Just to say I went to the opera in Riga (referred to in the review quite properly as "not a Russian city") at the weekend but it wasn't Wagner, it was Puccini.
posted by Major Tom at 4:56 AM on October 17, 2016


no wonder went mad back then. this kind of sensory overload would have me in a gilded closet underneath my velvet brocade blanket.

Versailles was the first palace i ever went to and all i could think was "wow, people LIVED here." it just seemed so extreme.

i still think that every time i go to a castle.
posted by sio42 at 5:33 AM on October 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


i mean, i'm sure i could adapt to such luxury given time....
posted by sio42 at 5:34 AM on October 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I remember bits of Linderhof like a fever dream. One of details I remember is the panels to the left and right behind his bed are doors... One to the privy. Life goals.
posted by slipthought at 5:47 AM on October 17, 2016


Huh. Maybe it was a fever dream. I can't find any reference to it online. Another castle maybe?
posted by slipthought at 5:51 AM on October 17, 2016


I remember bits of Linderhof like a fever dream. One of details I remember is the panels to the left and right behind his bed are doors... One to the privy. Life goals.

I did not realize Linderhof was like my parents' cabin in the Alleghenies.
posted by lagomorphius at 6:11 AM on October 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


It sounds like he had a nightmarish childhood constrained by court politics and homophobia. These castles are on my list of places to visit at some point in my life, though.
posted by codacorolla at 6:18 AM on October 17, 2016


We lived in Munich for seven months (should have been two years but company owner malfeasance shortened it) and visited Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee, and the Residenz. After a while, we kind of got tired of all the gilding. SO MUCH GILDING. And the rooms all started looking the same. We had castle fatigue.

I loved Neuschwanstein but even more I loved Hohenschwangau, Ludwig's childhood home which became overshadowed by Neuschwanstein. On the grounds of Neushschwanstein is a lovely bridge (the Marienbr├╝cke) that spans the P├Âllat Gorge; the view from the bridge to the castle is amazing, but the gorge itself is worth a whole day. We spent a wonderful afternoon skipping rocks on the creek with our toddler and our nephews.

I miss Germany.
posted by cooker girl at 6:46 AM on October 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Possibly of interest: MeFi's own cstross' Laundry novel, The Apocalypse Codex[spoilers], has an opening scene set in Neuschwanstein. It was also used for the movie of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:39 AM on October 17, 2016


#itsgoodtobetheking
posted by gottabefunky at 9:21 AM on October 17, 2016


#itsgoodtobetheking

To be frank, it sounded absolutely hellish to be the king. He was groomed from an early age to be royalty, never had a childhood, and had his sexuality drugged and shamed out of him. He then spent the rest of his life trying to build a fantasy land to escape into, but ended up being ousted from the throne and dying a violent death.
posted by codacorolla at 10:22 AM on October 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


yes, pretty castles, but spinach poker? I need an explanation.
posted by floweringjudas at 10:39 AM on October 17, 2016


At first I thought this was about the board game Castles of Mad King Ludwig. I didn't know the game was about a real guy. Even worse, I didn't even know it was the Neuschwanstein Castle guy!
posted by symbioid at 10:48 AM on October 17, 2016


To be frank, it sounded absolutely hellish to be the king. He was groomed from an early age to be royalty, never had a childhood, and had his sexuality drugged and shamed out of him. He then spent the rest of his life trying to build a fantasy land to escape into, but ended up being ousted from the throne and dying a violent death.

Sounds like the King of Pop.
posted by slogger at 10:55 AM on October 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


Before we ridicule poor Ludwig too much though, remember that his contemporaries around Europe built all matter of follies on their estates. Only a matter of economic resources seems to have kept them from going as far as Ludwig.

And even then only by a margin. At least Ludwig's are (so far) standing, unlike, say, this cautionary tale.

Full disclosure: I love follies.
posted by thivaia at 6:27 PM on October 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thank you! I've been fascinated by Ludwig for decades, inspired originally by seeing a photo of Neuschwanstein sometime in the 1970s. I'm having to fight my way back from the links so I don't totally lie on today's timesheet...
posted by lhauser at 4:10 PM on October 18, 2016


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