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Events on the 125. Deathday of Ludwig II (Louis II)

The 125. Anniversary of the Swan King's Death Is Being Commemorated with a Variety of Exhibitions and Events

He is certainly the best known Bavarian in the world – Ludwig II or Louis II, the legendary Swan King of Bavaria who gave Bavaria its most famous buildings. On June, 13th is his 125. deathday and there will be many events throughout Bavaria commemorating his death. Here you will find the most important facts on his life and a selection of events on the anniversary of his death.

A Life for Art

After the death of his father Maximilian II he became King Ludwig II of Bavaria on March, 10th 1864. He showed no great interest in politics and delegated most government business to his ministers. Ludwig indulged in his romantic ideas which found their expression in his architectual projects. He also saw his ideas embodied in Richard Wagner's operas. He adored Wagner beyond all measures and his idolatry for the composer and for building ornate palaces led him deeper and deeper into a life far from reality. Ludwig spent the last years of his life secluded in Neuschwanstein Castle. His increasingly odd behavior gave rise to doubts about his mental sanity.

The ministers who had taken over the government businesses developed an interest in getting rid of this king who was a spendthrift and indignant of politics. On June, 8th 1886 Ludwig was declared mentally disturbed under debatable circumstances and the next day he was removed from office. On the evening of June, 13th he died under suspicious circumstances together with his personal physician in Lake Starnberg. Though it is very likely that he commited suicide there are speculations up to today whether he was killed.

Bavaria benefits from Ludwig's artistic heritage up to this very day. Richard Wagner's oeuvre would never have been as vast as it is and the Margravial Opera House in Bayreuth which houses the Richard Wagner Festival had not been built had it not been for Ludwig's financial support of the composer. Not to mention the 'Fairy Tale' King's castles, playful in architecture and situated in gorgeous landscapes. The castles designed by Ludwig – Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee and Neuschwanstein – as well as his residences Hohenschwangau, the Munich Residenz and Castle Berg are attracting millions of tourists from all over the world.

Castle Herrenchiemsee: Great Bavarian State Exhibition „Twilight of the Gods. King Ludwig II and his Time“

The biggest event commemorating Ludwig's death is the presentation of the Great Bavarian State Exhibition „Twilight of the Gods. King Ludwig II and his Time“ by the „Centre of Bavarian History “, the „Bavarian Department of State-owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes“ and the Rosenheim County. The site for this multi-media show could not have been chosen more spectacular: It is being staged at the unfinished rooms in the northern wing of Herrenchiemsee Castle which, for the very first time, will be opened to the public. From May, 14th to October, 16th visitors will find a lot of background information on the Swan King's life and death here.

Apart from an enactment of his biographie personal belongings of Ludwig will be shown. Moreover, the splendidly furnished State Bedroom in the New Castle has been restored especially for the occasion. This used to be the most expensive room of the 19. century, it is even more pompous than the richly adorned bedrooms of Neuschwanstein Castle. There will also be elaborate 3-D-animations on how the unfinished Castle Falkenstein and Neuschwanstein Castle would have looked like were they built on.

The exhibition wants to show the historic conditions during Ludwig's time but also to give insight into his emotions and thoughts. The show outlines impressively how Ludwig II in his allegedly crazy way has been a vanguard of his time and a formative force for the modern industrialized and touristic Bavaria.

Hohenschwangau: Opening of the Wittelsbach Museum

Right in time for the 125. deathday of Ludwig II the Wittelsbach family, the noble family Ludwig stems from, will be opening a museum under the title „The History of the Bavarian Royal Dynasty“. The museum wants to answer the open questions that remain for visitors of the surrounding castles Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau: Who are the Wittelsbach family and why have they influenced just this region so strongly? What connected and separated the Wittelsbach kings? Which historical challenges did they have to meet? And what became of the descendants of Maximilian II and his son Ludwig? Visitors will have the opportunity to experience the history of the Wittelsbach family through a walk-in family tree. This construction made of steel and glass will be one of the highlights of the exhibition. Exhibits from the personal possession of the Wittelsbach family will offer insight into the private world of the Bavarian kings.

It is not alone for the historic exhibition that the Wittelsbach Museum will be sought by fans of Ludwig and his castles. The museum is situated on the waterfront of lake Alpsee and visitors will have a grandstand view on the two surrounding castles. A restaurant will invite guests to stay and enjoy this heavenly place for some time.

Oberammergau Museum: Exhibition „Where is Ludwig II?“

Ludwig II had a special realtionship to the town of Oberammergau because it is close to the castle where he spent most of his lifetime, Linderhof Castle. Oberammergau is not only known for its proximity to Linderhof but also for its world-renowned passion play which takes place every ten years and which is being given by members of the town. Ludwig endowed a monument of a crucifixion group to the town which is situated on Osterbichl mountain. Oberammergau has been paying homage to the king since he has been alive by burning a big fire on the eve of his birthday, August, 24th.

For his 125. deathday Oberammergau is showing the exhibition „Where is Ludwig II?“ hinting to the fact that though the king had been at Linderhof Castle more than at any other of his residences and had been wandering through the Ammergau Alps so often but still was rarely seen in Oberammergau because of his timid way. Still, there are many places in and around Oberammergau which are connected to Ludiwg II and the exhibition will show what these places meant to him. The exhibition will go from April, 1st 2011 to January, 8th 2012.

Linderhof Palace: Exhibition „From Lynder-Hof Estate to Linderhof Castle“

From June, 10th to October, 16th the „Bavarian Department of State-owned Palaces“ will open the so called „Königshäuschen“ (King's Cottage) for the first time to the public. The exhibition „From Lynder-Hof Estate to Linderhof Castle“ will give the visitors insight into how the Cottage had been used by members of the royal family. The exhibition also outlines how the Cottage had been a planning office for Ludwig's many building projects.

At the same time the exhibition „Tourism in Linderhof Since 1886“ will be held in the historic Palm House. It will run through September, 11th and will show how, after the death of Ludwig II, the place started to attract more and more visitors, formerly called summer vacationists (Sommerfrischler), and how mass tourism in Linderhof developed.

Commemoration in Berg at Lake Starnberg

Since Ludwig's deathday coincides with Whitsun, which is a two-day public holiday held on Sunday and Monday in Germany, the town of Berg has decided to dedicate several days of commemoration to the Swan King. Berg is the place where Ludwig spent his last days and where he finally drowned in Lake Starnberg. The town has built the Votive Chapel to commemorate the dead king. And right at the spot where he drowned there is a cross marking this tragic event.

From June, 11th to June, 13th Berg is holding a fair in a festival tent dedicated to Ludwig II. The remembrance events will start with the tapping of the beer keg on June, 11th at 1:00 p.m. There will be a celebration programme for the whole family. The next day there will be music in the festival tent. On June, 13th, the day that marks the 125. anniversary of Ludwig's death, there will be a procession starting at 9:30 a.m. going from the festival grounds to the Castle Park where a commemorative service will be held at 10:30 a.m. next to the Votive Chapel. After that, the procession will lead back to the festival tent where music and food will be offered. In the evening there will be a theatre play on Ludwig's life and death.

Commemorative Ship Cruise

On the evening of June, 13th the cruise ship „MS Starnberg“ will start on a commemorative tour around Lake Starnberg, going to the spot where Ludwig had been found dead. During the cruise a 3-course-menu will be served and a historian will give a lecture on Ludwig's life.

More Events

On May, 1st the „Kaiserin-Elisabeth-Museum“ in Possenhofen on Lake Starnberg will open an exhibition on the Swan King.

In Munich, at Nymphenburg Palace, the Queen's Apartment, including the birth room of Ludwig II, which had been closed due to renovation will be reopened by Mid-April. Also in Nymphenburg Palace, at the „Marstallmuseum“ (Royal Stables) there will be a show with exhibits from Ludwig's time. His so called „Nymph Sleighs“, richly ornamented sleighs which Ludwig used for his nightly rides, will be on display.

The Munich Residenz will show the exhibition „Ludwig II’s Conservatory in the Munich Residenz“. Ludwig had a conservatory built on the roof of the Residenz. In it he had created a dream world of plants, animals and oriental buildings. This was his retreat when he visited Munich, the city where all the nobles lived and that he did not like at all.


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