An eccentric though visionary king: probably no other monarch left as monumental an architectural legacy to Bavaria than Ludwig II, who reigned from 1864 to 1886, despite hating politics.
An admirer of the Sun King Louis XIV of France, Ludwig II wanted to build “his own” Versailles, a quasi identical copy erected on Chiem Lake’s “Gents’ Island”. His most iconic castle is clearly Neuschwanstein – though both remain incomplete. Yet Ludwig had them equipped with every possible modern inventions, from the telephone to electrical lighting of artificial grottos.
He was the well-known patron of composer Richard Wagner, as well as the founder of Munich’s Musikakademie. But he was also an admirer and supporter of science, and was passionate about the infinite opportunities of electricity, then at its beginnings: Munich’s Residenztheater was the first theater in Germany to be fitted with electric lamps.
Accumulating debts as well as the king’s hallucinations and his fear of people eventually had his doctors – among them Dr. von Gudden – declare him irresponsible on the orders of his uncle, prince Luitpold. Ludwig’s death, who drowned in Lake Starnberg together with Dr. Gudden, remains unexplained to this day.