Chiemsee

Today we drive to Chiemsee to see another one of the castles built by King Ludwig II. The sat-nav takes us to Gstadt and from here we catch the boat to Frauenchiemsee. Lake Chiemsee is the largest lake in Bavaria and we are visiting two of it’s three islands today.

At Frauenchiemsee, we visit the monastery. The monastery was founded in 782 and has been rebuilt a few times. The church is the only part of it that we can access. The metallic door gives the impression that we are walking into a medieval building. The church has one of the prettiest altars I have seen. We light a candle and leave. It is a beautiful day today and there are artists trying to paint the various scenic views of the island.

We get to the pier just in time to catch the next boat to Herrenchiemsee. Herreninsel, as it is otherwise known as, is the largest of the three islands. It is here that King Ludwig II decided to recreate the Versailles of Bavaria modelling it on Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles. Unfortunately it was never finished. The building work on the left wing was stopped soon after it had commenced. Only 20 of the 70 planned rooms were completed and Ludwig II only spent 9 days in this palace. We join the half hour guided tour. The lady describes the various rooms, the floors of which are covered in real marble, but the walls are covered in fake marble. The fake marble is made of different materials and in those days cost more than the actual marble. The mosaic colour effect this produces on the walls is stunning. The carvings on the walls are covered with gold leaves. There are paintings on the wall depicting French history. The paintings on the ceiling however is from Roman and Greek mythology. Ludwig II admired the Sun King so much so that paintings and references to Louis XIV can be seen in the rooms.

The first room is the bodyguards room, next is that of low aristocracy and then higher aristocracy and then the King’s state bed chamber, which is the most expensive room. The curtains draping the bed is made using needle painting technique and is the most exquisite curtains I have ever seen. Three chandeliers hang from the ceiling of the reception room, but the way the mirrors are positioned it looks like the chandeliers extent into infinity in both directions and even side ways. Even though electricity was available at that time the king insisted on having candles to light all the chandeliers.

The Grand Hall of mirrors run the entire length of the building and has 23 mirrors and is bigger than the one in Versailles. Chandeliers hang across the room fitted with hundreds of candles. It is a breathtaking sight as we walk in. Unfortunately the King never had a chance to conduct any events in this room and it is now used for functions like concerts. The guide takes us to the private sector and the King’s actual bedroom and study. The heaviest chandelier hangs in one of the rooms weighing almost half a ton and another room houses the most expensive and prettiest porcelain chandelier. Instead of hanging crystals, bunches of delicate flowers are seen in colourful arrangements and even those who dislike chandeliers cannot but gaze in admiration at this elegant display. Below the chandelier to compliment it, there is a large flower arrangement made of porcelain on a table. The flowers look like silk flowers but is actually made of porcelain.

Throughout the palace you can see the King trying to implement modern ideas. Vents for hot air from fires below to circulate and heat the rooms. In one of the rooms there is a mechanical equipment to move the table from the kitchen below to the King’s dining room with the food all served for the King’s consumption.

Even the gardens and fountains in front of the palace are designed to resemble the gardens in Versailles.

After lunch we go to the Old Palace (Augustine Monastery) and walk around. The history of the place is all described in German and I ask a young lady what the building is all about. It was here in 1948 that the constitution of Germany was drawn up and so forms an important part of German history. It is also one of Bavaria’s oldest monastery and when Ludwig II bought the land he converted some of the rooms for his private use.

We take the boat back to Gstadt and then drive back to the hotel. Tonight I am going on the night walking tour in the forest. Nobody else wants to join me.

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