Linderhof: From Former Hunting Lodge to Regal Castle
Linderhof Castle, the Palace Retreat of Bavarian King Ludwig II, is situated in the Bavarian Alps around a 25-minute drive from the southern Bavarian city of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
The castle was built to be a palace for King Ludwig himself, and for him alone, that wish is clearly reflected in the dimensions of the cozy-sized rooms.
Linderhof Palace is the smallest of the fairy-tale king’s castles and was the only one completed during his lifetime.
Is Linderhof a Palace? Or is it a Castle? Well Ludwig himself referred to it as both throughout its construction, and so shall we throughout this article.
Either way, the palace here at Linderhof remains one of the most captivating in Bavaria and throughout all of Germany actually, and we love visiting here. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to do the same.
We hope you enjoy the read.
Linderhof Palace History
Under instruction from Ludwig, architect Georg von Dollmann envisaged a total of 17 projects for the King under the guise of creating a “New Versailles” in the Linderhof Valley in 1868-1873.
The current site of the Palace at Linderhof was initially a sleek hunting lodge built by Bavarian King Maximilian II, the father of King Ludwig II.
Due to some geographical constraints, the palace project at Linderhof never eventuated and was transferred instead to an island on the Chiemsee.
At Linderhof, an alternate, and vastly smaller project was realised, and it came at the expense of the Königshäuschen (Royal House/Hunting Lodge) that was on the property which was demolished and relocated to make way for Ludwig’s grander vision.
So it was that just after Ludwig had moved his bolder plans to replicate the Palace of Versailles to its new location at Herrenchiemsee, the Königshäuschen at Linderhof was redeveloped into the current “small” palace. New magnificently landscaped grounds and gardens were added to compliment the palace complex and royal retreat creating the magnificent touristic attraction we can enjoy today here in the Linderhof Valley.
Regardless of the inaccessible terrain, and compounded by issues of material transportation due to limited access routes, construction was finally completed in 1886 and Linderhof Palace became the favorite Castle of King Ludwig II, albeit for a short time before his untimely death that same year.
Linderhof Castle Interior
As many bloggers and travel websites online have noted, photography is not permitted inside Linderhof Castle, so there are very few images available online for one to get a real sense of the grandiose interior of the palace.
To say the interior is breathtaking is actually perhaps an understatement. The lavish interior design aspects of the palace include so many amazing wonders that it’s hard to know where to look.
The ceilings are a highlight with their colorful, vibrant, and very detailed frescos. The wall tapestries and paintings are incredible, and the marble statues and extravagant and ornate furniture throughout only add to the magnificence of Linderhof Castle.
Linderhof Palace Hall of Mirrors
The Linderhof Palace Hall of Mirrors is a wondrous interior space. With the clever placement of mirrors, the room seems endlessly expansive, and the ornate beauty of the room itself is highlighted wonderfully by the mirrored illusion.
King Ludwig utilised this room personally as a drawing-room retreat and was known to do much reading here. The King was well noted as being a “night-owl”, and often read throughout the darker hours, so one can imagine just how bright this room would’ve been with numerous candles burning throughout.
Covered almost entirely with mirrors, the Hall of Mirrors was inspired by a room in the Munich Residenz created by decorative designer François de Cuvilliés. He specifically planned the space so that no matter which direction your gaze, there would be another stunning reflection.
Don’t miss the ornate 16-branch Ivory Candelabra and the alcove floor covering which is actually a Carpet made entirely of Ostrich plumes.
Linderhof Palace Kings Bedroom
Imagine the most regally pompous bed-chamber you can envisage from watching or reading childhood fairy tales – then triple that thought!
That would be the King’s Bedroom in Linderhof Palace. This is, if that’s at all possible, the most luxurious part of the palace interior and is actually the largest room by size in the castle.
The room is gorgeous and is covered in gold. With its elevated altar-like bed we’re sure King Ludwig imagined himself as some sort of Bavarian deity.
The intricate ornamentation in the room goes beyond the canopy of the bed of course. With cute angels holding Bavarian crowns in the air in the flight to the Glass Candelabra that can hold 108 candles, the room is an absolute masterpiece.
King Ludwig was clearly a monarch on the eccentric side and this is demonstrated totally on point within his bed-chamber whose design is obviously envisaged to be deliberately regal, pompous & exaggerated.
Linderhof Palace Tapestry Chambers
Mirrored on both sides of the building, the Tapestry Chambers are a wonder within themselves, and whilst they had no specific function themselves, are famous in their own right thanks to works supplied by the very famous Gobelins Manufactory and Tapestry House in Paris.
The Gobelins Manufactory had supplied many artworks to the court of the Sun King himself – Louis the IV of France – and Ludwig wanted to jump on the regal bandwagon with some of his own works.
So it was that he commissioned Goeblins original curtains and furniture coverings for the Tapestry Chambers to which he added some “fake” tapestries which are actually pained work on canvas made to look similar to an actual tapestry.
In the West Tapestry Room whose decoration is symbolic to represent the evening, don’t miss the porcelain cast “life-size” peacock. And in the East Tapestry Room note the decorative symbolisation refers to the morning, check out the artwork all dedicated to the ancient gods frolicking on earth.
Linderhof Palace Audience room
With numerous references to the court of the French Kings here, it’s easy to see where Ludwig gained the majority of his inspiration for the entire property. Fanciful and opulent the Audience Room
Being somewhat of a recluse, there is little doubt that the Audience Room was simply used by Kind Ludwig as his own private office nd that assumption is backed up by the positioning of the desk within the space under a canopy and off to the side.
There are two small matching tables in the room that were actually gifts from Marie Alexandrowna – Grand Duchess and Empress of Russia – who tied in the British Royal family to both Bavaria and Russia, through her marriage to Prince Alfred who was Queen Victoria’s son. Check them out for sure!
Linderhof Palace Dining room
The dining room at Linderhof Palace is covered in carvings and artwork depicting hunting, gardening, fishing, and other pursuits related to food production, which leaves no doubt as to the function of the room.
The table is almost totally unique to regal eateries of the era, in that it can be lowered by a mechanical crank to the kitchen below, where it can then be set by the kitchen staff, then raised back into the dining room fully prepared and ready to dine from.
The table became known as the “wishing table” in reference to one of Grimm’s fairy tales that tells the story of a magical table that sets itself.
The King was well known for always setting his table for three or four people despite almost always dining alone here with his “imaginary” court.
Linderhof Gardens: Walks, Trails, Parks & More
The grounds at Linderhof are equally as impressive as the palace itself.
Designed by the imaginative Bavarian Royal Garden Director, Karl von Effner, the stunning flower gardens surrounding the palace draw on rococo and baroque garden design motifs. Clearly inspired by the European romantic movement of the mid-1800s, the landscaped gardens and lawns sport a plethora of trees, water features, statues, and some almost “secretive” winding paths and trails.
Divided into distinct sections, the Linderhof Gardens showcase the seasons and the elements with an array of Ancient Roman and Greek-inspired constructions and sculptures. You’ll find effigies and temples dedicated to Neptune, Flora, Venus, Adonis, Fama and more throughout the gardens all inspired by those massively famous historical figures from the ancient era.
From the sloping cascade marble steps to the north of Linderhof Castle, to the huge pool and fountain to the south, the entire exterior, although primarily Baroque, gained inspiration from the most famous gardens of France, Spain, England and even Northern Africa.
Linderhof Palace Gotto
Without a doubt, the most famous feature of the entire parkland surrounding Linderhof is the Venus Grotto.
In the most unlikely of positions hidden away in the north of the property grounds, this artificial cave was equipped with heating and electrical lighting, something only very new to Bavaria and certainly not seen in a place as far remote as Linderhof Castle would’ve been at the time.
King Ludwig was known to occasionally have his staff row him across this tiny man made underground lake in the gold plated shell-designed boat that’s on display. Musicians were employed to play an ambient background, all in the preposition of soothing his woes and daily worries.
Unfortunately, the Linderhof Palace Grotto will remain closed for travelers until the end of 2024 due to restoration work and we’ll revisit the blog then and update you all on the renovation works.
Linderhof Palace Moroccan House
Of all the outbuildings in the park and surrounding gardens, the Moroccan house is probably the most intriguing. With its tiny minaret and earthy colour scheme, one could certainly imagine this building in downtown imperial Marrakesh.
The building itself was once part of the 1878 World Exhibition that was held in Paris but was bought to Linderhof by Ludwig thereafter. Lost to the estate for a time it was re-purchased by the Bavarian State in 1980 and once again became an attraction within the palace park.
Linderhof Palace Temple of Venus
One of the most prominent features of the castle parklands is the very Roman Temple of Venus which sits at the bery end of the landscaped terraces.
An outdoor amphitheater of sorts was originally planned for here in the shadows of Venus herself but sadly this was never completed and so she stands alone here looking sentinel over the gardens.
Linderhof Palace: Abandoned Construction Projects
Despite all that you see at Linderhof, incredibly, there was so much more earmarked for the area that never came to fruition.
So, whilst Linderhof Castle and Gardens were completed by the King in his lifetime, the crown budget and ultimately the king’s life, did not extend far enough to fulfill the realisation of his grandest of plans.
How to Get To Linderhof Palace
By Car: The easiest way to get to Linderhof Castle/Palace complex is by car. The property can be found on the St2060 Road leading west from the Village of Ettal in Southern Bavaria. With plenty of parking, you’ll have no problem seeing the signage pointing to the castle from the road about 10kms down the valley from Ettal.
Driving from Munich only takes about an hour to an hour and a quarter.
By Public Transport: The train trip out to Linderhof from Munich (with its bus connection from Oberammergau) can take around 3 and a half hours. There seems to be no proper connection which is the issue here as the distance is only about 70 miles.
So, if you’re planning a day trip out to Linderhof Castle from Munich, it’s certainly advisable to start your day as early as possible from Munich Hauptbahnhof
See our Getting Around Munich article for loads more information on Public and other transportation options throughout Bavaria.
Linderhof Castle: A MUST Visit Bavarian Attraction
Of all the Bavarian fairy-tale castles commissioned and built by King Ludwig II the castle here at Linderhof, in our opinion, is the most remarkable.
Aside from the fact that the entire property exudes over-the-top furnishing, fixtures, and décor, the place actually feels far more intimate and personal than his other castles in the area. You almost feel an affinity with King Ludwig here at Linderhof and really get a sense of his vision and perhaps even a glimpse inside his unconventional mind.
There are many outbuildings scattered across the Linderhof property, all of which warrant a visit in their own way. Spending an entire afternoon here, or, if you’re a Regal or Bavarian Historian, an entire day, would certainly NOT be a waste of your time.
We love visiting Linderhof Castle and we hope this article encourages you to do the same! Are you interested in sightseeing at some central Munich Palaces and Castles? If so please check out our article relating to Palaces In Munich where you can find out more about the Munich Residenz.
Cheers and thanks for reading, as always if you have anything to add we’d love to hear from you so just drop us an email via our contacts page.