March 22


Linderhof Palace – The Royal Villa

By Frank

March 22, 2023

Linderhof Palace is the smallest of King Ludwig II's three palaces , but the only one that was completed during his lifetime . It is a beautiful place and there are many reasons why it is definitely worth a visit. It was built in the French Rococo style and is simply unique in its architecture and furnishings.

AHA! cool...

From the royal family to the pleasure palace type

Linderhof, an agricultural estate near Ettal that belonged to the Schwaiganger military foal farm, was known to Ludwig II through horseback riding with his father King Maximilian II in the royal hunting lodge, which was located next to the Lynderhof estate. Even as crown prince, Ludwig II and his father spent the night on numerous hunting trips in the "Königshäuschen", as it was called at the time

Instead of the relatively simple building, many years later Ludwig was planning something huge - a palace based on the model of Versailles was to be built. However, since the valley was too narrow for this , the plan was later implemented on Herreninsel in Chiemsee and Herrenchiemsee Palace was built. However, a new project was designed and implemented for Linderhof.

In the course of six construction phases, Linderhof was transformed into the magnificent palace that we know today. Between 1869 and 1885, Ludwig II had the little house expanded and converted again and again. Ludwig II loved Linderhof very much. Especially the forester's house , which he had expanded into a royal house in the first construction phase. When the house got in the way of his building enthusiasm in 1874, he didn't have it demolished, but moved it about 300 meters to the west . It still stands today in the Linderhof park.

It was not until Ludwig II acquired the island of Herrenwörth (today: Herrenchiemsee) in Lake Chiemsee in 1873 and moved the Versailles project there that the temporary palace and gardens developed as we know them today.

The unrivaled role model was the "sun god"...

In addition to the mystical world of the Orient and the knightly-romantic epoch of the Middle Ages, it was the glamorous court of the Bourbon dynasty that had cast a spell over Ludwig II. Completely modeled on the "Sun King" King Louis XIV in France, whom he greatly admired. Ludwig II's idea of his own office was shaped by the unrestricted power of the great French kings of absolutism. Only: His exaggerated sense of rulership was disproportionate to his possibilities.

The construction of Linderhof Palace followed the "pleasure palace" type that arose in France in the 18th century and was soon being built in palace parks all over Europe. Here the eccentric monarch created his very own 'pleasure palace' with imaginatively furnished rooms and cabinets , a small personal retreat in contrast to the representative palaces of Herrenchiemsee and Neuschwanstein. A pleasure palace is a palace that was used for private pleasure and was inhabited or visited in one's leisure time away from court ceremonies and state duties and was usually located near larger residences.


A castle in itself...

Ludwig II was a loner and created his own empire with Linderhof Palace, his palace for himself alone . The size of the rooms shows that Linderhof was only built for one person who wanted to be alone as much as possible. But: even for a monarch, the exquisite rooms are furnished in a most spectacular way , the quality of the craftsmanship is unparalleled.


There is also an unusual dumbwaiter in the dining room, a so-called ' table set '. The special dining table was let down into the kitchen with a crank mechanism through a hatch . After setting the table, he was transported back upstairs so that the shy king could dine completely undisturbed .

Venus cave

Venus grotto with boat

Venus Grotto Source: Augsburger Allgemeine

Linderhof Palace became a small jewel in French Rococo style and a laboratory for technical gadgets . So he had a 100 meter long artificial grotto built into a nearby hill, on whose lake he rowed up and down between real swans at night. She was electrically lit with carbon rod lamps, powered by 24 dynamo machines . With the help of colored glasses, the grotto could be illuminated in different ways .

A wave machine moved the small artificial lake, the water of which, like the whole grotto, could be heated in order to achieve a comfortable bathing temperature . Depending on the mood, he could illuminate the underground facility in blue or red. Previously, he had sent an engineer to Capri to study the blue of the original grotto .

What's exciting to see

Parks of the castle

The palace gardens are no less impressive than the palace itself. The massive 53 hectare complex was created between 1874 and 1880 under the direction of the Bavarian court gardener and garden designer Carl von Effner . The central part, designed in the style of French and Italian baroque and rococo gardens and grouped around the palace in the shape of a cross, impresses with its terraced gardens and parterre facilities.

The terraces with water basins, wells and fountains , statues and vases, the geometric flower beds , the arcades, the long cascade with the Neptune fountain and the two focal points pavilion and Venus temple are baroque. The natural, irregular design of the surrounding park with the exotic buildings comes from models from English landscape gardens.

Of course, King Ludwig II demanded that his architects complete the complex as quickly as possible. The technicians installed a special runway to transport building materials more quickly . Even the trees in the park were stimulated to grow faster with a strong fertilization of up to 10 loads of cattle manure per year .

The park buildings are something very special, reflecting Ludwig II's enthusiasm for oriental fashion and Richard Wagner's music dramas . The Moroccan house and the Moorish kiosk come from the oriental fashion, which has existed since the early 19th century and which Ludwig II also cultivated . The three sets erected in the park Hundinghütte (Act 1 of "Valkyrie"), Gurnemanz's hermitage (Act 3 of "Parsifal") and Venus Grotto (Act 1 of "Tannhäuser") come from the dramas of Richard Wagner. Each building is a world in itself .

Fountain in front of the castle and Neptune fountain

Neptune fountain with cascades and arcades

Fountain of Neptune with cascades Source: Flickr

A highlight is of course the large water basin in front of the entrance to the castle, in which the approx. 22m high water fountain rises regularly. The water pressure (30 liters of water per second!), which can be generated from the natural gradient, is sufficient for this. Not only in front of the castle building, but also behind it , water and its power play a special role. Because from his bedroom window, King Ludwig II had an unobstructed view of a water cascade that lets water flow down the mountain over countless stairs, finally ending in a fountain with a Neptune figure .

The Neptune Fountain with its larger-than-life cast zinc sculptures includes Neptune, two tritons and three horses. Two more pairs of putti sit on the back wall of the fountain. The horses and the Triton Southeast are equipped with water features . Additional water fountains are integrated in the fountain basin. Piled up large stones serve the optical connection between the figures.

Moroccan house

The exhibition pavilion, acquired at the Paris World Exhibition in 1878, was redesigned on the inside according to the wishes of Ludwig II and was originally built on the Stockalpe near the Austrian border. The wooden building, acquired by a private individual after the king's death, was bought back by the state in 1980 and has stood in the palace park since 1998.

Incidentally, Ludwig's nickname for Linderhof was "Meicost Ettal",

an anagram of "L'état, c'est moi" (I am the state), the motto of Louis XIV.

About the author

It is more valuable to experience a place in detail than many small impressions of an incomprehensible whole.

Genius Loci - discovering, capturing and experiencing the spirit of a place. Perceive - understand - enjoy!

As a graduate industrial engineer with an additional MBA degree from a renowned university in England (EMBA, EQUIS and AACSB accredited), I have been showing other, often surprising, paths to success for more than 30 years at C-Level (Head of Marketing and Sales worldwide).

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