InterRail #15: King Ludwig II’s Herrenchiemsee
The final day of our InterRail trip was soon upon us and we were off on another adventure, to visit the slightly less famous castle of King Ludwig II, Herrenchiemsee or the ‘little Versailles’. Most people are familiar with the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein, nestled upon a rugged hill close to the Alps which I was lucky enough to visit during my summer spent in Munich, but King Ludwig also commissioned two other castles, the Rococo Schloss Linderhof and Schloss Herrenchiemsee, which was to be a replica of Louis XIV’s Versailles outside of Paris. The island in the middle of the peaceful Chiemsee was bought by the King and was transformed into a royal island, with the former monastery converted into a royal residence (Altes Schloss) and the grand Herrenchiemsee Palace (Neues Schloss), which became the largest of his palaces. However, King Ludwig did not live to see the completion of the Palace as after his mysterious death, all construction work was brought to a halt and the building was opened for the public.
Leaving Munich at just gone 9am we trundled down the track in the direction of Salzburg. The train was fairly full but in just under an hour, we pulled into the peaceful town of Prien am Chiemsee. When we arrived we were a little annoyed to learn that the small train which we had planned to catch to the quayside was not in service until the beginning of May. Although we had not wished for a lot of walking we had no choice as there appeared to be no buses running either. It was almost 2 kilometres to the quayside so it was quite a way. Fortunately we arrived just in time to buy our tickets and hop aboard the boat which was due to depart.
The trip across the lake took 15 minutes and then we were soon ready to set off and explore. The tickets were reasonably priced, at 8 euros at, but due to the fact that they were timed, we had to get a move on in order to not miss our slot. The walk to the Palace took another 15 minutes and we arrived ready for our allocated time slot, with just five minutes to spare.
The guided tour, just like at Neuschwanstein was not lengthy, with about 3 to 4 minutes in each room but in contrast to the fairytale castle, the palace was far more opulent with a replica great hall of mirrors, spectacular paintings and cunning mechanical wonders. An example of this was the dining table which could be sent down to the kitchen to be laid and have food placed upon it, before hoisting it up, through the ceiling to the dining room where the King could be served. Exiting the state rooms we were taken through the far wing which was never completed in terms of decoration (just blank brick walls), a great contrast to the rest of the Palace which was adorned with marble, luxury fabrics and sculptures.
Within about half an hour we were finished in the main areas so exited and went to the café where we all had drinks. With not a lot to see outside, the formal gardens and fountains in front being the focal point, we then toured the museum galleries, but after wandering around for about 10 minutes, we left the Palace behind, walked down through the gardens and slowly made our way back to the area close to the boats. It was time for lunch so having checked the menu outside we entered the Schosswirtschaft restaurant, with a fine view over to the Fraueninsel, and enjoyed a meal of Schnitzels all round.
Feeling satisfied after lunch we decided that it was time to return to the mainland and from there make our way back to Munich.