Castle of Madness

Today made for one interesting day in Bavaria! We visited Herrenchiemsee, a castle built by the maddest of kings, King Ludwig II. More on that in a bit. It seems the real story involves the process of getting to the castle.

The bus ride to Lake Chiemsee was a fine one. Once we arrived, we needed to get on a boat that would take us to the island where the castle stands. Apparently, our fearless tour director made quite the faux pas making us go ashore onto the wrong island. The band was playing, and things were going well. However, when we got off, our tour director didn’t even seem to recognize that the island was the wrong one until after the boat was pulling away from the dock. We had to wait another 30-45 minutes for the next boat, which took us back to where we started, and then finally to the correct island. What an ordeal. I asked if perhaps we were on the wrong lake.

Arriving on the island, there was clearly no castle in sight. Apparently, King Ludwig II liked seclusion. We walked through the canopy of forest, which eventually opened up into a vast garden grounds complete with 3 gigantic fountains. As I looked around, I thought to myself, “This reminds me of Versailles in France.” To my amazement, I ended up finding out that the King was infatuated with everything French, especially Louis XIV, and his castle of Versailles. Ludwig wanted to build an exact replica, and in 1878 that is exactly what he set out to do. The only problem was that he eventually ran out of money. The castle is unfinished, which is why you only see the main portion without the two extra wings like Versailles has.

I thought it was quite amazing how recent the building had begun on this castle. 1878 is not really that long ago. Unfortunately, I was unable to take any pictures inside the castle and the museum, but let me just say that it was unbelievably ornate, with lots of gold leaf everywhere.

One of the best parts of the day was finding out that King Ludwig II was very patriotic, and as a result he really loved Richard Wagner. Wagner’s death mask is held in a small case inside the museum underneath an enlarged playbill for “Tristan und Isolde”. I think we were the only ones from our group to even acknowledge that it was there. Everyone else missed it. Unfortunately there were no pictures allowed inside, so I just have to file it away in my memory.

What an amazing place to visit! And what rich history! Today was a great day. Tomorrow it looks as though we will be hitting the mountains and a Bavarian show in the evening. Before that, I have to get up and play a faux church service at 9:30am. Time to get to sleep. Bye for now!

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