Ludwig II’s personal palace was built on a more intimate scale than nearby Neuschwanstein, offering a glimpse into his troubled mind.
Of all of “Mad King” Ludwig II’s elaborate building projects, Linderhof Palace was the only one he lived to see completed and the one most designed for his lifestyle. Built on the site of a former lodge that the crown prince used on hunting trips with his father, it is essentially a palace built for one man. Originally referred to as the “Little Versailles,” it resembles the Sun King’s famous palace. See in the building and gardens a potent display of Ludwig’s self-conception as a “Night King.”
Start in the garden, considered one of the world’s best examples of historic garden design. Visit the “refuges” dotted around the grounds, where Ludwig could go to escape. The artificial grotto was illuminated by some of the world’s first artificial lighting. Notice the contrast between the Moorish Kiosk decorated with stripes and the explosive greens of the garden around it.
Head toward the palace. Stand in the enormous bedroom, the palace’s largest room, which paid homage to Louis XIV’s ceremonial habits.
In the dining room, spot the disappearing dumbwaiter that allowed the king to dine alone even as he held imaginary conversations with his idols.
Picture the Hall of Mirrors lit by a thousand candles, each reflecting off the mirrors, as Ludwig II stayed up feverishly in the night, an artistic but troubled soul.
Linderhof Palace is a 10-minute drive outside the village of Ettal, in southern Germany, next to the Austrian border. Drive from Innsbruck in 1.5 hours or from Munich in an hour and 20 minutes. Neuschwanstein Castle is a 50-minute drive away. On-site parking is available at Linderhof Palace. Reaching the castle on public transportation can be difficult, but several bus companies run tours.
In summer, the palace and grounds are open daily during regular business hours. In winter, the park buildings are closed, but visits of the palace are available. Visiting inside the palace is available only on guided tours, which last about 25 minutes and are offered in German and English. Tickets are timed, so reserve online to secure your desired slot.