the bavarian Versailles
Fountains in the park
Herrenchiemsee was built in a splendid position by king Ludwig
II starting on May 21st 1878. The castle in fact
rises on an island of lake Chiemsee, the Herreninsel, and
can be reached by ferry leaving from the town of Prien.
Herreninsel, the Island of men, is so called because it
used to host a convent of Augustinian Canons a counterpart
to the nearby Fraueninsel, the Isle of Women, which
is still the home of a Benedictine Convent of women.
The façade is an identical copy of the Versailles
one: Herrenchiemsee is presented as a hymn to the power and
glory to the ‘Roi Soleil’ , Louis XIV of France, and Ludwig,
who always was a great admirer of this mythical historical
figure, decided to erect an exact copy of the original
The great interest nurtured by Ludwig towards the ‘Roi
Soleil’ and the French Royal family goes further than a
simple historical remembrance or a passionate veneration so
to say: Louis XVI of France had been the Godfather
of his grandfather, King Ludwig I of Bavaria.
The untimely death of the forty year old sovereign, on June
13th 1886 in the lake of Starnberg in circumstances which
have never been clarified, did not allow to carry out and to
complete the project. Today Herrenchiemsee is in fact made
up of only the central body: the left wing,
unfinished was demolished in 1907 whereas the right wing was
never even started.
The Hall of
The visit to the Bavarian Versailles starts first
with the great staircase of honour. Though a model
for Herrenchiemmsee, Versailles did not always correspond
exactly to what Ludwig had in mind. I fact he asked for new
creations in the trend of the 19th century: the great
staircase reproduces the one of the ambassadors in
Versailles but has a very different mould on account of the
modern glass roof.
The hall of the guards is the first of the
representation rooms for parades. It is richly decorated in
golden stuccos and precious marbles, and is also adorned
with halberds of the royal guard, the so called Hartschiere.
In the white wood and gold lining of the first
antechamber are inserted pictures with scenes of Louis
XIV th’s time while in the big fresco on the ceiling the
triumph of Baccus and Cerere is represented. The magnificent
wardrobe with gilt bronze applications is made with the
technique of artist Boulle.
The second antechamber has got oval windows like the
“Salon de L’Oeil de Boeuf” in Versailles. The pictures on
the wall represent Louis XIV and members of his family; the
great equestrian statue also represents Louis XIV the “Roi
In the court protocol, the parade bedroom was the
place where evening and morning audiences took place: it was
not simply a place where to sleep and rest, but the central
focus of the castle. This one in Herrenchiemsee is something
extraordinary: stuccos, furnishings and materials are of
such wealth difficult to put into words.
The hall of mirrors, 98 metres long (the Versailles
one is only 73), 52 branched candlesticks, 33 Chandeliers,
is the jewel of the castle, some art critic thinks it is
better than the original one.
The dining room in oval form, drawn in the shape of
the great hall of the Hotel de Soubise in Paris, is
furnished and decorated with busts of Louis XV, of the
Duchesse de Lavallière and of the Great Ladies of the court
like Countess Dubarry and the Marquise de Pompadour. Under
the enormous chandelier in Meissen porcelain there is a
peculiar table, the “Tischlein-deck-dich”, (a table
which sets by itself), directly connected with the kitchens
below, through a special device
created in order to avoid bothering the king while he was
having his meals.
In 1927, King Ludwig II’s Museum was set with
photographs, paintings, letters, personal items and original
furnishings, many of which came from Munich’s Residenz
where the sovereign lived with a certain regularity during
the first years of his reign, before he started gradually to
move into his castles.
Either before or after your visit to the castle, make sure
you stop at the former Abbey of the Augustinian Canons,
which was bought by Ludwig together with the island in 1873.
Inside it you can visit some baroque halls, witnessing the
prestige of the Canons that lived in Herreninsel from 1130
up to 1803. Don’t miss the king’s small private apartment
and the room where in 1946 sat the commission in charge of
writing out the Constitution of the German Federal
From April till End of October from 9 a.m to 6 p.m.
From end of October till March from 10 a.m to 4 p.m.
In Winter, if the
lake is frozen, the castle might not be accessible.
Closures: January 1st, Mardi Gras, Decembre 24th, 25th and 31st.
How to get there: By train as far as Prien + small steam train + ferry to
By car from Munich to Herrenchiemsee you must follow this route.
Tickets: If you wish to visit several castles and state palaces in Bavaria, the best solution would be to buy a Pass for two weeks or for a
Ludwig II on iPhone