There are three things you learn about King Ludwig II of Bavaria on the Bavarian Alps Royal Castles tour: 1-he died under suspicious circumstances; 2-he was either crazy, eccentric or gay; 3-he was really into the French court, peacocks and country life.
From the outside, the palace – actually, it’s hard to even call it a palace, because it’s smaller than an oligarch’s dacha; Russian and French royals would quaintly refer to as a “pavilion”. Anyway, from the outside it’s pretty and classical, but definitely plays second fiddle to its surroundings, which are just stunning. The Bavarian Alps, man!
On the inside though … It’s like Versailles had a fire sale and all the gold and tapestries and general opulence of a palace big enough to house a town had to be stuffed into an 8-room shed.Ludwig’s aesthetic clearly was “the brighter and shinier, the better.” There were rainbow-colored peacock floor sculptures, tables with amethyst inlays, candelabras carved from ivory, wall coverings in pink and lavender, carpet made of ostrich feathers and light fixtures fashioned out of the most delicate painted porcelain. In some rooms the gilt was dripping from every surface, floor to ceiling, and I think a couple of people on our tour actually exclaimed “Oh my eyes!” upon entering the Hall of Mirrors. It was a little ridiculous in the fun and whimsical kind of way.There’s a slightly creepy factor too. Ludwig was a BIG admirer of the French monarchy, particularly of Louis XIV (the Sun King, who “built” Versailles). But Linderhof doesn’t just borrow Versailles’ elements, such as the Hall of Mirrors. It actually celebrates French history and court life with murals, tapestries and frescoes depicting everything from French military campaigns to life at Versailles, and portraits of not just the kings and queens, but even the royal mistresses! IMHO, such a tribute would be nice enough in a reading chamber, but instead it’s one of Linderhof’s running themes, and it turns the place into a bit of a shrine to the long-deposed (and decapitated) French royals.
The tour of the entire interior takes all of 15 minutes, and photography isn’t allowed (so I sourced a couple of photos from the Internets). There’s actually quite a lot more to see at Linderhof than this visit allowed: the landscaped grounds with many pavilions, a stunning Venus grotto built to celebrate one of Wagner’s operas (Wagner was Ludwig’s favorite composer), a Moorish Kiosk with – get this – a peacock throne.If you’re not traveling by car at your own pace, check out multiple tour operators to see who offers a more substantial visit to Linderhof. If you are doing the compressed Linderhof-Oberammergau-Neuschwanstein tour, bear in mind that if you want the wide shot of Linderhof with the Alps in the background, you have to sprint to the terraces opposite the palace’s façade as soon as the interior tour is over, take some rapid-fire shots, and then literally run to the bus. The views are TOTALLY worth it, though.