One of ‘Mad’ King Ludwig II’s Bavarian castles, Linderhof Palace is the smallest of the three and although it doesn’t have any dramatic turreted towers, it does feature a grand staircase leading to the entrance and sumptuous formal gardens and fountains.
King Ludwig used the palace as his own personal hideaway and hardly ever received visitors here but that didn’t stop him decorating it on a grand scale.
Linderhof Palace is situated not far from Germany’s ‘Romantic Road’ which starts in Fussen, just 45 kilometres away, which seems appropriate given Ludwig’s romantic, fairytale castles. Building of the castle was started in 1869 on the site of Ludwig’s father, Maximilian II’s, hunting lodge.
It was whilst I was staying in Fussen that I visited the palace which is often over-looked by visitors who instead flock to Ludwig’s more famous Neuschwanstein Castle.
The weather gods weren’t shining on us on the day of our visit, with heavy fog and rain making us wonder whether it was actually worth visiting the palace (I was particularly keen to explore the gardens) but, not to be deterred, we soldiered on.
Our entry fee included a 25-minute guided tour of the palace (at a designated time) so we headed off via a forest path to the palace’s main entrance.
After a short wait in the rain (luckily a shop next to the ticket office conveniently sold umbrellas!), we were led into the palace. The tour took us through many of the rooms used by the King during his reign including his ornately decorated bedroom which features a 500 kg chandelier!
Each room features an abundance of priceless furnishings and finishes – tapestries, gilded architraves, velvet-covered furniture, portraits, Meissen china and ceramics.
The final room of the tour, the Hall of Mirrors, is a smaller, but no less impressive, version of the room of the same name at the Chateau of Versailles. Unfortunately, but understandably, visitors aren’t allowed to take photos inside the Palace.
With our tour over, it was time to explore the gardens. Also planned to be based on the gardens at Versailles (Ludwig was apparently in awe of the great French Kings, Louis XIV included), plans had to be changed when it was realised that the valley in which the palace is situated, was too narrow.
As well as being infatuated with French Kings, Ludwig also loved all things Oriental and the Linderhof Park includes a Moorish Kiosk (which contains a peacock throne) and a Moroccan House.
The Venus Grotto, an artificial version of Capri’s ‘Blue Grotto’ was created especially for Ludwig who liked to be rowed across the artificial lake to the sound of Wagner’s ‘Tannhauser’ opera. Even in Ludwig’s day, the grotto could be illuminated in different colours. The things money can buy!
The gardens surrounding the palace itself are more formal and include a mix of parterre, Baroque and English-style gardens.
A huge gilt fountain takes pride of place in front of the palace, its jet rising to 25 metres.
Beyond that, a number of terraces rise up to allow you to view the palace from different levels, each offering a different perspective and larger scope of the palace and grounds below.
Behind the palace is a terraced water cascade of thirty marble steps. The bottom of the cascade features a fountain of Neptune, whilst at the top is Ludwig’s Music Pavilion.
More formal gardens and parterres, with topiary and statues, can be found on either side of the palace.
Despite the persistent drizzling rain, we spent about an hour wandering around the gardens. On a fine day, the fir and beech forest beside the formal gardens would make a lovely spot for a picnic.
The Linderhof Park covers around 50 hectares (125 acres) in total, of which we covered just a fraction. What we saw, though, was very impressive and I’m really glad we braved the conditions.
Need to know about Linderhof Palace
- Linderhof Palace is open daily from 9am to 6pm between 28 March and 15 October and 10am to 4pm from 16 October to 27 March.
- The Parklands, including Grotto, Moroccan House and Moorish Kiosk, open from mid April to mid October.
- Entry fee for the palace and park buildings is around €8.50 per adult/€7.50 reduction which includes a guided tour in English or German (frequent tours throughout the day).
- To visit the park buildings only, the cost is €5/€4.
- The ‘Konigsschlosser’ ticket, which includes admission to each of King Ludwig II’s palaces (Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee) is available for €24. The ticket is valid for six months.
- Cafes/restaurants and souvenir shops are available on-site.
How to get to Linderhof Palace
The German Rail Service operates trains to Oberammergau from where there is a bus connection to Linderhof Palace. Visit www.bahn.de for timetables.