Ed’s European Road Trip Part 5

Last Day in Germany! Tomorrow we head out to Lake Como, Italy! However the last couple of days in Germany have been outstanding! We had 3 main things we wanted to do in Munich. Go to the Haufbrau house – mission accomplished! (see previous blog)

Second main attraction – the Marienplatz! Our hotel was so strategically placed and the Marienplatz was literally a 2 minute walk. So that was an easy one to tick off our list. A few times a day, the puppet characters in the Rathaus tower come out when the bell towers are ringing (see the picture). Unfortunately, this was a Sunday and we were not there for that event.

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We walked around until the tourist information booth opened as we wanted additional information on another primary sightseeing target – BMW Welt! As it turned out, our best bet was to get on the U-Bahn right at the Marienplatz and bingo, a few stops later and we were right there. Not only were we able to visit the BMW museum but they had a full selection of their models right in the massive foyer of the BMW Welt building. Saw some very exciting cars, both old and new and the architecture of the building was also truly amazing!

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Enough car pictures? That was only a very few of the many that I took. I promised Karen that I would post a picture of the Mini-limo that was on display as she thought that was a very cool automobile!

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So, 3 sites we wanted to see and do…accomplished. However, we still had time in our day and Diane showed some interest in visiting the Munich Residenz which is very near the Rathaus. The Munich Residenz is the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs of the House of Wittelsbach in the centre of the city of Munich and are we very glad that Diane mentioned it.

It served as the seat of government and residence of the Bavarian dukes, electors and kings from 1508 to 1918. What began in 1385 as a castle at the north-eastern corner of the town (the Neuveste, or new citadel) was transformed over the centuries into a magnificent palace, its buildings and gardens extending further and further into the town. The architecture, interior decoration and works of art collected in the Residenz range in time from the Renaissance, via the early Baroque and Rococo periods to the neoclassical era. They all bear witness to the discriminating taste and the political ambition of the Wittelsbach dynasty.

What a beautifully restored and decorated palace. Room after room of opulence, art and artifacts. A few pictures to show what I mean.

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Off to Southern Bavaria we go, first stopping at the Linderhof Palace of King Ludwig II or the “Mad King” as he was later named. This was his favourite residence and the only one of his buildings that was actually completed (1878). Although comparatively a small palace, it is opulent and very much influenced by French architecture including a Versaille style of garden area.

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The gardens include other buildings including:

Venus Grotto: The building is wholly artificial and was built for the king as an illustration of the First Act of Wagner’s “Tannhäuser”. Ludwig liked to be rowed over the lake in his golden swan-boat but at the same time he wanted his own blue grotto of Capri. Therefore 24 dynamos had been installed and so already in the time of Ludwig II it was possible to illuminate the grotto in changing colours.

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Hunding’s Hut: This hut was inspired by Richard Wagner’s directions for the First Act of the “Valkyrie”. Ludwig used to celebrate Germanic feasts in this house.

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Moroccan House
This house was actually built in Morocco for the International Exhibition in Vienna 1873. The king bought it in 1878 and redecorated it in a more royal way.

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As most of the day was spent here at Linderhof, it was a quiet and early night at our last stop in Schwangau. This area is home to 2 more of Ludwig II castles…Hohenshwangau and Neuschwanstein both of which we will be visiting.

Our last day in Germany! Two spectacular sights to visit! Tickets for these two castles are bought at the bottom of the hills on which the castles are situated. 23 Euro per person provided entrance to both castles. We opt for Hohenshwangau first and walk up what was supposed to take 20 minutes but in actual fact took half of that. The process here is very punctual and our tour is at 10:55. Our tickets allow us in the automated turn-style only at that time for only that tour.

Hohenschwangau Castle or Schloss Hohenschwangau is a 19th-century palace and was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria but was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria. Hohenschwangau was the official summer and hunting residence of Maximilian, his wife Marie of Prussia, and their two sons Ludwig (the later King Ludwig II of Bavaria) and Otto (the later King Otto I of Bavaria). The young princes spent many years of their adolescence here. The King and the Queen lived in the main building, and the boys in the annex.

King Maximilian died in 1864 and his son Ludwig succeeded to the throne, moving into his father’s room in the castle. As Ludwig never married, his mother Marie was able to continue living on her floor. King Ludwig enjoyed living in Hohenschwangau, especially after 1869 when the building of his own castle, Neuschwanstein, began only a stone’s throw from his parental home.

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After our magnificent tour of this castle, we focus on Neuschwanstein. We decided to take the horse drawn cart up the steep embankment up to Neuschwantstein but after a quick coffee break, we stand in the long line to get on a carriage. There seems to be a delay in the carriages coming down from the castle (we think because of a medical emergency as we saw an ambulance speed up to the castle a bit earlier). Don and Diane decide to walk up but as we have done the castle before, we opt to take our chances with the carriage for the 12:55 tour time. We eventually got on the carriage and with only a 5 minutes to spare, we make it to the drop off point near the entrance but still a 15 minute walk. I have never seen Karen walk so fast ever before and I struggle to keep up with her but we managed to make it seconds before the tour started!

Neuschwanstein was started by Ludwig II in 1868 high above his father’s castle, Hohenschwangau. It was actually never completed and only 17 rooms were ever finished. From 1885 on foreign banks threatened to seize his property. The king’s refusal to react rationally led the government to declare him insane and depose him in 1886 – a procedure not provided for in the Bavarian constitution. Ludwig II was interned in Berg Palace. The next day he died in mysterious circumstances in Lake Starnberg, together with the psychiatrist who had certified him as insane.

Seven weeks after the death of King Ludwig II in 1886, Neuschwanstein was opened to the public. The shy king had built the castle in order to withdraw from public life – now vast numbers of people came to view his private refuge. The setting of Neuschwanstein could not be more idyllic. However, movement in the foundation area has to be continuously monitored, and the sheer rock walls must be repeatedly secured. The harsh climate also has a detrimental effect on the limestone façades, which will have to be renovated section by section over the next few years.

A great view of the castle can be had by a short hike up to the Bridge (Marienbrücke) which looks directly down on the castle.

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So that’s it for our road trip through Germany. Next stop is Lake Como, Italy. Thanks for following along!

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