Taking inspiration from King Louis XIV of France, Bavaria's 'fairytale king' Ludwig II had a luxurious castle built on Herrenwörth Island in Lake Chiemsee in 1878. Unfortunately, he didn't live to see the finished result.

King Ludwig II, the most enthusiastic admirer of the French 'Sun King', wanted to create a building that would emulate the Palace of Versailles yet raise the bar even higher. Once he had bought the idyllic Herrenwörth Island in Lake Chiemsee, work started on a fairytale castle in 1878, with a view to creating a refuge for the melancholy king. In the 20 grand rooms open to the public, visitors are treated to the most lavish decor, including marquetry flooring, carved panelling, stucco marble cladding, opulent wall and ceiling frescos and spectacular chandeliers and furniture.

But the highlight has to be the Hall of Mirrors, which is almost an exact replica of the one in the palace in Versailles. The hall along the garden front measures 98 metres in length. Wall mirrors, domed ceilings painted with frescos, gilded stucco, 44 free-standing lights and 33 sparkling ceiling chandeliers adorn what has to be the most lavish banqueting hall in the world. Visitors also need to check out the Ludwig II Museum, which is home to magnificent furniture, documents and sketches relating to building projects, letters to Richard Wagner and stage models from his operas.

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