We were on a tour of Linderhof Palace and a tourist asked, was King Ludwig II gay? The tour guide replied diplomatically, “Well, he did have some problems with women“. Linderhof Palace is about a two hour bus trip from the centre of Munich, Germany and about thirty minutes further on is Neuschwanstein Castle. Both historical places are legacies of King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886), sometimes known as the Fairytale King.
Ludwig’s reign was characterised by largely ignoring state affairs in favour of extravagant artistic, architectural projects as well as being surrounded by conjecture that he was gay. He commissioned the construction of two lavish palaces and the fantastic Neuschwanstein Castle and was a devoted patron of the composer Richard Wagner.
Our Visit to the Palace.
On our visit to Linderhof Palace we were highly impressed by its Baroque facade and the lavish interior decorated with Rococo motifs. The rooms were adorned with astounding opulence, including Lugwig’s bed chamber and dining room with its magnificent Meissen porcelain centrepiece and china flowers.
Neuschwanstein Castle is set in the isolated rugged hills of Bavaria and is the epitome of a fairytale castle. The castle inspired Walt Disney to create his Magic Kingdom. Today, Neuschwanstein is the most visited castle in Germany.
Ludwig wrote to Richard Wagner in May of 1868 saying, “It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles, and I must confess to you that I am looking forward very much to living there one day …….you know the revered guest I would like to accommodate there; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world.“ Clearly a devoted fan and patron if you read between those lines.
Throughout Neuschwanstein Castle we could easily see the creativity, vision and determination of King Ludwig II. It is a monument to the culture and kingship of the Middle Ages which he venerated and recreated. Ludwig never finished his castle but the Throne Room and Singer’s Hall are truly spectacular.
Tips for your visit.
Some tips for your visit to Neuschwanstein Castle would be to take the shuttle bus to the top of the hill and only take the horse and cart if time permits. The bus takes you to a bridge where you have outstanding views of the castle from a wonderful vantage point for photographs. The horse and cart takes you directly to the castle and you miss out on seeing the castle from a distance.
Also, you need to have an entry ‘time ticket’ to visit the interior of the castle. If you travel independently be sure to arrive by lunch time and buy the ticket straight away as you could miss out. Only 8000 visitors a day are allowed to go through the castle and group sizes and entry restrictions are strictly monitored at the entrance area.
The story of Ludwig’s palaces and the castle is fascinating. However, Ludwig II’s back story is just as interesting. It would seem that when Ludwig was in his late teens he had a very close personal relationship with Paul Von Thurn und Taxis, a Bavarian prince. It was widely recognised that at that time their relationship was unflattering to both families. Both Paul and Ludwig shared a passion for Richard Wagner and it is recorded in one of Paul’s letters that the three young men shared ‘a little cosy room’ together.
In 1867, Ludwig was engaged to Duchess Sophie Charlotte of Bavaria. However, one week before the wedding date Ludwig called off the engagement. At this time he wanted to give up the throne and live with Richard Wagner. Ludwig wrote over 600 letters to Wagner, many describing his affection for his music and friendship.
Probably more notable, Ludwig had a very long running affair with his handsome Prussian equerry, Richard Hornig. Hornig became an important player in court affairs occupying the office of Crown Equerry and Master of the Horse. Hornig and Ludwig were intimate in their relationship, often escaping to remote places together.
The irony of this story is that the current Duke of Bavaria and present head of the Wittelsbach dynasty is also gay and lives today in the summer palace where King Ludwig II was born. For more details see : http://gayinfluence.blogspot.com/2011/09/king-ludwig-ii-of-bavaria-1845-1886.html.
Linderhof Palace and Neuschwanstein Castle are located near beautiful Munich about 2 hours drive into the lush pastures and mountainside scenery of the Bavarian countryside. If you are interested in seeing a beautiful palace, a fairytale castle as well as learning first hand more about King Ludwig II’s life, we suggest you set a full day aside.
We won’t spoil the fairytale by telling you the ending. Unfortunately for Ludwig II it was not a ‘happy ever after’ finale. However, the gift his architectural vision has left the world is as inspiring as his fascinating and avant-garde gay lifestyle.
We booked our accommodation in Munich through Agoda.com