Bavaria’s Linderhof Palace – Power And Magnificence
It’s a word we use to describe wielding power recklessly.
Yet everyone craves power. We want to control events and people. To direct our actions meaningfully. To take charge of projects, activities, our lives.
On one of our evening walks, my daughter and I debated the issue – and an important point emerged.
Power must be tempered by responsibility.
When one desires power but shirks responsibility for using it, the journey towards megalomania begins.
Quite a few modern leaders would qualify under this definition. But megalomania isn’t something new. Many ancient rulers had it. And acted on it so grandly that there still remains evidence of their obsession with displaying power and strength.
We see it in their palaces and monuments.
One we toured recently was the luxurious Bavarian palace of Linderhof, built by King Ludwig II in the mid-1800s. Incidentally, over 50 million people have visited it since the king died!
Right at the entrance to the Linderhof Palace, on the ceiling, are the immortal words:
NEC PLURIBUS IMPAR
Literally “Not unequal to many”, it’s an obscure and perplexing phrase to translate. The vain ruler likely accepted the flattering interpretation, as it applied to the Sun King, Louis XIV:
“No one is higher than me!”
I shot this picture of the ceiling before noticing the warnings. Photography is prohibited inside the Linderhof Palace. So I couldn’t capture on my lens the pomp and grandeur of its interiors, including the magnificent ‘Hall of Mirrors’ that was modelled on the one at Versailles near Paris, France.
This picture from the official website of Linderhof Palace is representative of how the rest of it looked.
Linderhof wasn’t the only palace King Ludwig II built, though. At the SAME time, he was constructing a mind-boggling EIGHTEEN castles and palaces across Bavaria!
Linderhof Palace was, however, the only big palace that was finished in his lifetime.
Salacious gossip tinges anecdotes about his life.
Legend has it that the introvert ruler had dinner almost daily with 7 or 8 of his closest associates in a private dining room – none of whom were visible to any of the servants! Yes, they were Ludwig’s “imaginary friends”, with whom he held conversations as they supped.
Interestingly, the dining table was designed to descend down a floor to the kitchen, where it could be loaded with food.
In his Hoftheater, operas and plays were performed for the king… who watched them alone. He donned historic costume and, all by himself, rode sleighs around his land, often late at night.
It is said Ludwig built so many castles and palaces only because he didn’t want to meet and interact with his subjects. His wasn’t a boisterous, flamboyant megalomania, but no less extravagant for that.
By the time he died in 1886, he had bankrupted a vast treasury, mired his family in debt for the next couple of generations, and had the ignominy of being declared insane.
Mystery surrounds this enigmatic ruler with extravagant tastes who indulged his whims and fancies. About his sexual orientation. About his sanity. And even about the way he died.
But the word I will always associate with the quirky Ludwig II is…
It describes everything in Linderhof Palace, and the gorgeous park around it. Here – see for yourself…
Lovely flower beds adorned the path leading from the parking lot to Linderhof Palace.
It’s a short, scenic walk that gives you some idea of how wisely and well the grandiose king chose the spot for his castle.
A view of the Linderhof Palace from up close. (Some construction/repair work was going on, and the boom ruined the picturesqueness of it all!)
A view of the fountain in Linderhof Park, as seen from the Palace.
Sculpture and art pieces dot the small lake and surrounding balconies.
Like this lion, one of a pair that flank the stairs leading up to the terraced gardens.
And an ornate urn that decorates the lake in front of Linderhof Palace
But as grand as Linderhof Palace and Park were, they paled beside the most magnificent creation of ‘mad’ King Ludwig II – the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle!
More about that in another post… coming soon.