Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Herrenchiemsee Palace, Germany

In June 2014 we took a day trip to Chiemsee. On our way back from Salzburg the month before we drove right pass Lake Chiemsee and although I wanted to stop off and check out the island I wanted to go home more. So in June since we had planned not to do anything in anticipation for our Baltic Anniversary cruise the next month we chose not to do anything in June. But of course I wanted to travel so we took a day trip down to Lake Chiemsee.
About and hour south of Munich, there is a freshwater lake between Rosenheim, Germany, and Salzburg, Austria called Chiemsee Lake, it is often called the Bavarian Sea. There are three main islands on the lake: Herreninsel, the largest, with an area of 238 ha; Frauenchiemsee, 15.5 ha, and uninhabited Krautinsel, 3.5 ha, (known as cabbage island because in the Middle Ages it was cultivated by the nuns with vegetable and cabbages).
In 1873 King Ludwig II of Bavaria acquired the Herreninsel, the story was that the island was up for sell and someone wanted to come and tear down all the trees and destroy the natural habitats, the people on the island wrote a letter to the King begging him to purchase the island. King Ludwig II is famous here in Bavaria. He was King of Bavaria at the time when there wasn't a Germany. If you've ever looked at a map of Germany and looked at it's 16 states, Bavaria is by far the largest and best, (I maybe a little partial) it is after all the beer drinking party capital of the world! (Oktoberfest anyone? That's in Munich, which is in Bavaria!)
Aerial View of the Palace (From Google)
Actually he is famous around the world even if many people don't know it. Ever heard the the castle that Disney built because of a famous castle in Germany? King Ludwig II built it! He also build 2 other palaces, while he was king and bankrupted him self in the process. King Ludwig bought the island, and kept all the woodland, but he also used it as the location for his Royal Palace of Herrenchiemsee (New Palace). Ever seen Versailles? This palace is modeled after it! It was built as a "Temple of Fame" for King Louis XIV of France, whom the Bavarian monarch admired. (Fun fact: Louis XIV and Ludwig II had never met! Louis XIV had passed long before Ludwig was even born)

For some reason when we tried to exit off the Autobahn the road that would lead us to the main ferry was closed! So we continued on and followed signs to another port. There are a few ports that have ferries from that will lead you to the islands.
Besides checking out Herrenchiemsee, there are lots of things to do around Lake Chiemsee during the summer and winter months. During the summer you are able to go kite surfing, rent kayaks, etc. During the winter they even have a Christmas Market on the Female Island, although it is a lot smaller than the other Christmas Markets, I hear it is worth seeing at least once.

We bought tickets on board the ship. There were a few people on board we ended up buying tickets that would take us to the other island, but we ended up spending so much time on Herreninsel that we just decided to head back. It took about 30 minutes to get to the island. From the port, there is a ticket office, it's about 8 euros, for a combo ticket that will cover, (New Palace, King Ludwig II Museum, museum and galleries in the Augustinian Monastery)

After visiting the other castles built by Ludwig II, it's safe to say that he likes his palaces in the middle of no where. From the ticket office you have a walk through the woodlands, you could always do a horse drawn carriage ride up there, but we decided to walk. It was a beautiful June day, sun was shinning and I needed Vitamin D.

Can you see it peaking through??

It wasn't a bad walk. It took us less than 20 minutes to get there, and we still had loads of time to walk around and snap pictures of the garden area. Summer time was the perfect time to go. The fountains were on and there weren't many people there. Honestly it was magical.
There weren't many people there either. It was Friday the 13th, maybe they're superstitious too? We had a good time. A nice German older lady and her friend were nice enough to take a picture of us and they were even telling us to kiss! At least that's what we think they were saying, they were talking in German, but we've been told that we're a very adorable couple. I can only imagine that's what they were saying. HAHA.
I told you we were adorable! :D

I loved that the fountains were on. Each statue has it's own special meaning, but I just loved that they were on. I was told that at Versailles they don't turn the water on during the summer, they were only turned on a few times a month, and when they were on the visitors get charged a fee even if they miss it! We didn't miss the water fountains here. 

The Palace in literally in the middle of the Island! (*Pic From Google)

The palace it self is pretty amazing, at least what is completed. Our guide started off at the finished part of the palace, then it continued on to the other wing which looks exactly like the first wing, just not finished. There was an elderly couple on the tour who had been on this tour before about 10 years ago! They loved the palace so much when they came back to Germany they had to come and see it again.
Only the central portion was built before the king died and construction was discontinued with 50 of the 70 rooms still incomplete. It was the first time we actually went inside and toured one of the palaces in Germany and I think it was money well spent. Ludwig II spend about 10 day in this palace, before he died. Can you imagine? Going bankrupt building this castle, then spending less than 2 weeks at it?
Unfortunately we weren't able to take pictures of the inside. But I've found some pictures from Google that don't do this place justice, but it'll give you an idea of how amazing it was.
We went on the English tour, there were about 8 people on our tour, and our tour guide took us through the palace.


The highlights of the large state rooms are the State Staircase, the State Bedroom and the Great Hall of Mirrors. The king's own rooms were in the intimate Small Apartment, designed in the French rococo style. The palace was shaped in an 'W' with wings flanking a central edifice. Only 16 of the 70 rooms were on the ground floor. It was to have been an equivalent to the Palace of Versailles, but only the central portion was built before the king died and construction was discontinued with 50 of the 70 rooms still incomplete. It was never intended to be a perfectly exact replica of the French royal palace and in several places even surpasses it. Like Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors has 17 arches, the Hall of Peace and the Hall of War on either side have three windows each. The window niches at Herrenchiemsee are wider than those at Versailles, making its central facade a few metres wider. The dining room features an elevator table and the world's largest Meissen porcelain chandelier. Technologically, the building also benefits from nearly two centuries of progress. While the original Versailles palace lacked toilets, water, and central heat, the New Palace has all of these, including a large heated bathtub.

*Pics from Google
*Pics from Google
The Finished Wing vs. the Unfinished Wing

After our tour of the castle we decided to walk back to the port to catch the ferry to the other island, only we ended up taking the long way around, we ended up finding the abbey and the museum! But boy was it a walk. We also found a little garden area. Spring/Summer time in Germany is my favorite, not only because of all the festivals, but because of all the flowers. I've noticed that the Germans love their gardens and having flowers in bloom. Garden's are what make a castle so majestic, at least that's what I think.

Look at all the flowers!

We found Horses!
So we made our way back down to the port, we had every intention of heading to the female island, only thing was that we realized the time. It had taken us about 4 hours to get down to Lake Chiemsee, and we didn't bring the dogs with us, so being the good pet parents we are we decided to head back.
Herrenchiemsee was such a beautiful Palace. Two years later it is still the only Palace in Germany that we've actually gone inside to tour. I think there is a reason for that. I would love to be able to go back before we leave, but for now I'm glad that we got the chance to go.