Chiemsee is a large lake located just outside of Rosenheim, which is also known as the Bavarian Sea, being that it is Bavaria’s largest lake. There are cute towns surrounding the lake which transforms into popular destinations in the summer for activities such as swimming, sailing, or even enjoying the various restaurants sitting along the edge of the lake. When Wade & I first moved to Rosenheim in August, we tried to enjoy the last bit of summer by having a beach day on the lake, finishing our day on one of the patios, overlooking the gorgeous view. One of the most popular attractions of Chiemsee is the Herrenchiemsee Palace located on the largest island, sitting in the middle of the lake. Wade and I took our first tour of the palace in the fall and were fascinated by the crazy story that came along with it!
The Palace was built in 1878 by King Ludwig II, who was considered the cherished king by the people of Bavaria. This however was not the case in the eyes of the government ministers! His passions towards art, music and architecture surpassed his involvement with his governmental duties, neglecting his role as king. This also caused tension within his family since he would spend more time with his creative mind, such as building new castles and palaces for only his personal use, which also resulted in him going into great debt. His first major project was building his enchanting retreat, the Neuschwanstein Castel, which was later the inspiration for Disney’s infamous Sleep Beauty’s castle. What would be his final construction project was the Herrenchiemse Palace.
King Ludwig II was reigned as king at the young age of 18 which of course instantly put pressure on him to find a wife and produce an heir. He was engaged for a short period, however, the engagement was continuously postponed until he finally canceled their wedding altogether. It was rumored to be that his love interest was not towards women but instead, with men. This made sense since the Herrenchiemse Palace was not intended for anything else other than a monument towards his deep admiration towards King Louis XIV of France. Wade and I think of this more as an expensive, creepy obsession! Being a king in Bavaria, he had no signs of Bavarian style seen through the architecture or detail within the palace. Instead, the design of the palace was covered head to toe in French Baroque, as it was intended to be a replica and surpass the Palace of Versailles!
There was no expense spared as almost every room is covered in gold detailing! With over 190,998 oz. of gold throughout the palace, this would now cost approximately $250,100,000 USD! Since the palace was incredibly expensive to build, the king quickly went into debt and was unable to complete his construction - leaving only 16 of the 70 rooms completed. The u-shaped palace has two identical entrances. This was interesting to see both sides, as one entrance was fully complete and elaborately detailed with gold and marble, while the other entrance was left completely unfinished, showing only the raw construction of brick walls being exposed. It was fascinating to then realize the actual extent of detail that really went into the grand entrance!
There were some very interesting and strange details throughout the palace. The designs were elaborate and before its time such as having one of the first heating systems installed throughout. There was also an elevator that would bring his dining table downstairs to be set and then lifted back upstairs, into his dining room for him to eat by himself. For such a grand palace, you would imagine he would want to have guests over to show it off, however, like mentioned before, this was strictly a monument for King Louis XIV and was only a place to be used for himself. That being said, the dining table was extremely small, which would maybe only sit 4 chairs but only used for 1. Oddly enough, there was only one toilet to be planned from within this enormous Palace being located in his bedroom! He also had a bathtub which was the size of a small swimming pool –the amount of time it would take to fill for one use, I am sure the water would have already been cold by the time it was filled!
Dining Room (Photo Courtesy of © Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung http://www.herrenchiemsee.de/)
Bathroom (Photo Courtesy of © Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung http://www.herrenchiemsee.de/)
Another thing that seemed to be such a waste, was the breathtaking Great Hall of Mirrors: spanning over 98 meters, along the full length of the Palace’s front gardens. This room was covered in gold and held over 30 large candle chandeliers and over 50 freestanding candle fixtures: this included over 2,000 candles in the hall and took 20 servants to lite. The room would be lit solely for King Ludwig to simply walk through the hall! Thankfully, following his death, they put the fabulous Great Hall into good use which now holds functions such as summer evening concerts. It’s easy to imagine how much more elegant this room would instantly be transformed once all of the candles were lit, having them reflect amongst the countless mirrors scattered throughout the room!
Great Hall of Mirrors (Photo Courtesy of © Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung http://www.herrenchiemsee.de/)
For what Wade & I thought was the creepy part of his weird obsession towards King Louis was the fact that he had designed a bedroom specifically for this late king. It was the most expensive room and was located in the center of the palace. King Louis XIV was considered the “sun king”, so King Ludwig considered himself the “moon king”. This was transparent through the designs of the entrance as well as within each of their bedrooms. In King Louis’s shrine, the windows were red (which reminded me of a brothel) with red accents throughout the room. King Ludwig’s bedroom, had blue accents with a blue globe at the foot of his bed as a night light. There were also replica paintings of King Louis XIV, only instead, painted as a much younger version in every portrait that its originals - showcasing him at his best. They say he admired the French king’s royal status but we think he had an apparent man crush on the guy!
Louis XIV's State Bedchamber (Photo Courtesy of © Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung http://www.herrenchiemsee.de/)
By the end of the tour, you leave debating the true story as to why King Ludwig II had drowned. His death was very controversial as both he and his doctor were found lying dead in the lake. This was a palace he was only able to sleep in for a couple of nights prior to his sudden death. The cause of his death remains a mystery while rumors stand with the two either drowning or both being murdered. His family was the only ones who actually knew the cause of death – how convenient. Following his death, the construction of course came to an end and his family immediately sold as much as they could to regain the great debt he had created. This included selling the entire state of the art heating system. Because of this, you definitely need to wear a jacket and gloves while touring the palace during winter.
When Wade’s parents, Colleen & Garth came to visit us, I took them one afternoon to see the palace. We spent an afternoon taking the tour, looking through the museum and touring the grounds. We sat and had lunch in one of the cafes within the palace before heading back. Its interesting hearing other people’s perspectives and thoughts on the story, as well as the obscure purpose of the Palace. Colleen suggested she believes the secret passageway located in King Ludwig’s bedroom (said to be designed to access his dressing room below) was maybe intended to be designed to sneak his love interests up into his bedroom, keeping his true love life private. We ended up having a great afternoon just the 3 of us while Wade was getting ready for his game. After exploring the grounds, we realized we didn’t have much time before our boat was about to depart. This resulted in the three of us sprinting to what seemed like for our lives at the time to catch our boat! Luckily, we managed to wave the captain down from a distance as he was blowing his horn to wait for us as we were running towards the dock. We made it just in time to head back to the mainland and watch Wade’s game!
And there you have it… a little Bavarian history from me to you! Yours truly, today’s teacher: Mrs. MacLeod! xo