Thursday, June 4, 2009

Last German Weekend-CASTLES, ANYONE?

I have a special place in my heart for castles. Can you tell? And Germany sure did have a lot of them. Especially in the Southern and Western parts of the country where were staying, known as the German state/province of Bavaria. There are so many more that I want to someday see, which are even bigger and better than the ones we visited.

I count myself lucky that we got to visit these two. They literally took my breath away, so I can't imagine how much more charmed I could become since these ones were as good as I thought it could possibly get.


This is King Ludwig II. He built the two castles that we went to , which were two of the almost dozen castles he was having built before his death. He left a great legacy to the people of Germany.
For some reason, I became smitten with this man. Not because of his looks obviously (cuz he wasn't all that handsome) or because of his title. But because of his story. At first, I was told by Brian that the stories he heard was that this man was called "Mad King Ludwig" because he was "crazy" and he "mysteriously drowned after being arrested for spending all the kingdom's money". I don't know why that just sparked my interest.

Well, I read everything I could on him (we bought books that had bunches of stories on his life and the castles he built), and asked a ton of questions, just so that I could get to the real story. Some opinions weren't so kind, yet some were very devoted and fond of him. Through both opinionated sides, I was hoping I could answers to questions, such as: why was he called "crazy" and why was his death so mysterious? Who killed him? And why did Bavaria/Germany now love him if he was so hated back then? Why did he call off his engagement and then never marry (which Brian and I supposed he was actually gay. We based it on a lot of his actions and things he said). And what kind of person was he that built orchestral grottos in all his castles and loved music so much that he opened up music schools all over the country, yet is only credited as being "crazy."

Upon more questioning of tour guides and upon my reading (I read the stories to Brian out loud in the car to and from our different destinations, and he agreed with me) that he was completely "set up" all because of political greed. He loved living as a king, even though the times were changing and the monarchy didn't have much say in anything anymore, and he was a kind man who enjoyed architecture and beauty. He was smitten with the French Palace of Versailles and modeled many of his castles after it. Germany loves him now because of the legacy of such beautiful castles and gardens he left behind.

I could say so much more about all that I read, but I won't. I'll leave it at this. My heart actually felt sorry for him, learning about how he lost it all and was totally defeated because he had given up trying to fight the government anymore. His pride was lost when they arrested him in one of his castles and was publicly shamed. I am so sad that he has been titled "Mad" King Ludwig and isn't known for the "good" works he did.

On to the first castle we visted. The Linderhof.

This was his smallest castles, more like a palace, because it was built primarily as a Hunting Lodge. There are more buildings around the grounds, like a chapel, a mosque, etc. so that makes the whole property bigger. I am just not posting pictures of them.

This is the only castle of his 8-10 that was actually finished by his death. Probably because it wasn't as massive as the others. He spent a lot of his time here. Because he had become so defeated by the government, he pretty much became a hermit and enjoyed his kingship alone.
Here are some pictures I scanned in from one of our pamphlets. They wouldn't let us take pictures inside. This first one is his bedchamber.

The next one is his dining room. It's so hard to appreciate the ornateness of everything in there, and the massive size. Everything looks very gaudy in these pictures, but when you're there in person it's very impressive. From the hand embroidered "paintings" (they really looked like paintings but were actually sewn...100 stitches per square inch) to the original velvet curtains, furnishings and hand cut wood floors, it was very extraordinary.
This is the outside of the back (the next picture) . This was the view King Ludwig saw from his bed as the double doors were opened every morning. Oh, and try to remember that green arboretum at the top. We went up to it and you'll see pictures of us looking down.

This is the view looking out the front doors of the castle.

And this is a slug. Xanthe, Xoe & I couldn't get over how many of them there were and how massive they were. They weren't IN the castle. They were just on the pathway leading up to the grotto. Gross, huh? heehee. I HAD to post that picture.

This is the "Linderhof Cave" or "Grotto". (The girls were obsessed with this the whole time in Germany because Brian had shown the pictures beforehand and they LOVED it. It was all they could do to hold their patience to get there on our last weekend. They weren't let down). It's a whole outdoor "cave" that the king would sit up top and listen to a whole orchestra play. The acoustics were so remarkable.
This next picture is us looking down from the green arboretum.

And these are the side trellises that were at least a 1/2 mile long, downhill. It was a good climb, but totally worth it.
Ya, I totally skipped so many pictures but I know I've been posting so many in my previous posts. I hope you get the idea. It was beautiful and definitely worth the trip if you ever want to get over to this side of Germany. (It's very close to Austria).
Next Stop/Last Castle: Neuschwanstein Castle


Randi said...

That slug is so disgusting. When I was there people would pour salt on them and they shrivel up and die. It is really mean but I guess so is spraying bugs with bug spray and poisoning colonies of ants. I hope you felt like a princess visiting all of those castles. They are amazing that is for sure.

Alicia said...

I love all your pics and your stories. I wish I was a better history buff like you.