After the construction of Neuschwanstein Castle, King Ludwig II began building Linderhof Palace, the “Royal Villa,” in 1870 at the age of 24. Inspired by the Petit Trianon, one of the summer residences at Versailles built for Madame Pompadour, Ludwig set about building a similarly regal palace in Hochtal. The king was attracted to the area both because his father had a small hunting lodge there and on account of the proximity of a Benedictine monastery, which he believed was connected to the Holy Grail. Eventually, when it became clear that Ludwig’s grand plans greatly exceeded what the small valley could accommodate, he decided to switch locations: the royal residence would be built on Herreninsel at Chiemsee, and a smaller palace would be built in the valley.
Completed in 1879, Linderhof has an extensive 124-acre park, containing 4.5 miles of pathway, and several themed structures within the grounds: a Moroccan House, a Moorish Pavilion and a Grotto of Venus. When approaching Linderhof, the structure is somewhat hidden from view—a deliberate ploy of Ludwig to construct an atmosphere of privacy and solitude. Resembling a French villa, the design expresses Bavaria’s glorious past in the face of the recent founding of the German Reich, which had appropriated both territory and sovereignty from the Bavarian King.
Entrance to Linderhof is permitted only with a guided tour, for which you can buy a ticket at the main entrance (€ 7). Tours last approximately 25 minutes and are available in English; audio guides can be obtained in a variety of languages. A guide takes you through 11 different rooms and it is the bedroom and dining room that immediately capture the imagination. The focal point of the former is the opulent bed, which is surrounded by a golden balustrade that was meant to function as an impenetrable barrier. Running up the wall from the head of the bed and extending to its length is a dark blue canopy, offering Ludwig the possibility of drawing the cloth and closing himself off from the world. It was in the dining room that Ludwig entertained the ghosts of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Madame Pompadour over dinner. He insisted that the maid set several places at the table and that the chef cook a dinner large enough for four. The table was based on the wishing table in the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale The Wishing Table, the Golden Ass and the Cudgel-in-the-Sack and could be lowered to the kitchen below with a crank, thus alleviating the need for servants in the dining room. It is fantastic to imagine the “soirees” Ludwig must have held here in the flickering candlelight.
The park behind Linderhof, designed by Court Garden Director Carl von Effner, is well worth a visit on a summer’s day. Designed in the image of the Versailles gardens, cascading fountains, manicured lawns and bright flowerbeds abound. There is a tall, 300-year-old linden tree where it is believed that Ludwig once had a tree house—there is no longer any evidence of such a structure—and when he was in residence at Linderhof, he would take his “breakfast” at sunset hidden from view amongst the branches.
April-October 15 9 am-6 pm
October 16-March 10 am-4 pm
Phone: (08822) 92 030