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Bavaria celebrates the mysterious demise of King Ludwig II

Elisabeth Lang, eTN  Aug 23, 2011

GERMANY (eTN) - This year marks the 125th anniversary of the mysterious death of King Ludwig II. The Royal Residences and Augustian Monastery on the island of Herrenchiemsee, (120 km away from Munich, and close to Salzburg) are celebrating the myth of the Bavarian King with a multimedia Bavarian state exhibition called “Twilight of the Gods” in Herrenchiemsee, New Palace, from May 14 to October 16, 2011.

The Palace Herrenschiemsee was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, like the Neuschwanstein Castle, which was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle. His palaces, which were barred to strangers, opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886 and have been visited by over 50 million people since his death. More than 1.3 million people annually visit his Castle Neuschwanstein, with up to 6,000 visitors per day in the summer.

In June of 1886, members of the Bavarian government had their king declared insane by a doctor who never saw him personally. They arrested the king with the intention of abdicating him. On June 13, 1886, Ludwig the II of Bavaria was found drowned in Lake Starnberg. Being a very good swimmer, it is hard to believe that he had drowned on accident in shallow waters. There have been accounts that the king was shot and killed. The only proof of evidence is still locked away by the noble Wittelsbach family until today, perpetuating the myth of his mysterious death to this day.

In 1873, King Ludwig II of Bavaria acquired the Herreninsel as the location for his Royal Palace of Herrenchiemsee (New Palace). Modeled exactly after Versailles, this palace was built as a "Temple of Fame" for King Louis XIV of France, whom the Bavarian monarch admired very much. The actual building of this "Bavarian Versailles," which was begun in 1878 from plans by Georg Dollmann, was preceded by a total of 13 planning stages. When Ludwig II died in 1886, the palace was still incomplete, and sections of it were later demolished.

While most of the 71 rooms are unfinished due to shortage of money, 20 sumptuous state rooms reveal a breathtaking luxury - all of them had heating built in, which was very rare in those times.

Unique describes the world's only flashy wardrobe made of turtle shell. Breathtaking describes the sumptuous room that holds 55 chandeliers, with 5,000 candles that were lit for banquets.

King Ludwig loved to have dinner on his own, and sometimes he would had 2,200 candles lit when he came for a 10-day visit and stayed in his private rooms. Here, he had a magnificent bathtub holding over 60,000 cubic meters of water, with a blue light shaped like the moon on the ceiling that
resembled more a modern spa of these days.

The Bavarian King was highly interested in the latest techniques and architectures and had also installed the first beautiful glass and steel roof of Germany on his castle. The latest technology was also used for the highly-elaborate coaches and heated sleighs in which the king traveled at night, sometimes in historic costume.

The castles are priceless, and Bavaria would be very poor without the glorious heritage of King Ludwig. The Ludwig castles such as Linderhof, famous fairy tale Castle Neuschwanstein, and Schwangau are money-making income boxes. For this year's 125th anniversary of King Ludwig II's death, for the first time ever, the unfinished rooms of the north wing of Castle Herrenchiemsee will be accessabile to visitors.

The Herreninsel in the Chiemsee has an area of around 240 hectares and has numerous sights to take in, including the Royal Palace, the park, waterworks, the museum, and the two galleries in the Augustinian Monastery.

“Twilight of the Gods” packages are on sale at the local tourist authortity (

Visitors to Munich have a brand new way to discover the King Ludwig exhibition in a new tour just introduced to the German press and tour operators by Franz Gerstmayr, Managing Director of Geldhauser Bus Travel Munich ( Being a bike fanatic, he offers a King Ludwig Culinary Trail and Discover Tour on a luxury first-class bus and the use of e-bikes (electric bikes), with fresh brezeln, and use of his own e-bike station, which has been especially constructed and built for Geldhauser and is the only one of its kind in Germany. The station is a trailer with its own loading dock to charge e-bike batteries and can transport up to 40 e-bikes, along with additional batteries, just in case of a power failure.

This is all part of a unique day trip that King Ludwig certainly may have enjoyed himself. This ultimate experience is a lot of fun, has no age limit, and includes an e-bike tour that surrounds Lake Chiemsee - 60 km traveled in 3 hours, that passes through the beautiful the countryside via hidden paths, away from public roads. This is also a great way for physically untrained people to not get muscle aches, as bikers can just simply change gears and keep going on battery power, without loosing any breath. These e-bikes can go real fast, reaching speeds up to 40-60 km an hour. Franz Gerstmayr limits group size to 20 persons.

More information on Bavaria can be found on or .

Bavaria celebrates the mysterious demise of King Ludwig II
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