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Ettal: Linderhof Castle

Linderhof Palace – Ludwig II's highest flight of fancy.

Of the three palaces that Ludwig II actually had built, Linderhof Palace is the most inspired. A triumph of splendour and extravagance, it lies in the secluded Graswang valley.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria's fairytale palace at Linderhof is the only one he lived to see completed and the one in which he stayed more than anywhere else. Set in the Graswang valley, this world of fantasy and flamboyance includes an illuminated artificial grotto surrounding a small lake. On it bobs a shell-shaped boat and there are garlands of flowers everywhere. A romantic, allegoric painting is daubed on a rock face. Linderhof Palace occupies the original site of the Königshäuschen hunting lodge which belonged to Ludwig's father, King Maximilian II. In 1874, Ludwig had the Königshäuschen pulled down and moved to its current location. A vestibule and staircase were added to the royal villa, followed by a hall of mirrors and two tapestry chambers. Like all other state rooms in the palace, it is decorated in the style of the second rococo era. The original wooden exterior was clad with solid stone, which enabled the building to take on the representative character of French palaces and become the focal point of the estate. Linderhof Palace Park is a stunning example of historicist-era landscape gardening. Immediately outside the palace are baroque partitions such as garden and water parterres as well as terraces and cascades arranged in the Italianate Renaissance style. Every year on 24 August fires are lit on the hills surrounding nearby Oberammergau to celebrate the birthday of Bavaria's favourite king. Also worth checking out are the violin-making museum in Mittenwald and Gasteig arts centre on Lake Ammersee, around 80 kilometres north of Linderhof Palace.