Neuschwanstein Castle is top, again

Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig II, remains the biggest tourist magnet in Bavaria. Bayreuth and Munich are also popular with visitors.

With almost 1.5 million guests, Neuschwanstein Castle was once again Bavaria’s most popular tourist destination in 2018, the Ministry of Finance announced in Munich on Monday. Last year, a total of more than five million visitors flocked to the state's castles, palaces and residences.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his castles

Neuschwanstein Castle

Hardly four years into his reign, Ludwig II designed his first castle in 1868 at age 23. Today Neuschwanstein is Germany's most famous castle and a real tourist magnet with some 1.4 million visitors annually. This replica of a medieval castle towers above the town of Schwangau in the Allgäu mountains.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his castles

The Concert Hall

This is the largest room in the Neuschwanstein Castle. Inspired by the original in Wartburg Castle, Ludwig had it decorated with scenes from medieval legends. It provided a regal setting for large parties and musical events. Today visitors can enjoy the annual castle concerts.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his castles

Linderhof Palace

This was the shy monarch's favorite retreat. Linderhof is the smallest of his three residences. It was supposed to be a replica of Versailles but the plot was too small. Instead it became a Rococo style palace. Linderhof is celebrating the royal birthday in a romantic way with candles and light shows.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his castles

Venus Grotto

Ludwig II devoted a special room to music in the palace. But only the king and his close companions were allowed access to the room. Ludwig used to come here to listen to opera arias. The artificial grotto with a lake and waterfall portrays the stage set for the first act of Wagner's Tannhäuser. Ludwig was a huge fan of Richard Wagner.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his castles

Rose Island

Ludwig II loved places that guaranteed him seclusion. Like Rose Island in Lake Starnberg. His father, Maximilian II, had a summer house built here called Casino. It is surrounded by a park with a central rose garden. Here Ludwig II was protected from curious glances and enjoyed meeting with his cousin, Elisabeth, Empress of Austria.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his castles

Herrenchiemsee Palace

In 1873 King Ludwig II acquired Herreninsel, an island in Lake Chiemsee. He wanted to build something suitable here that would pay homage to his great idol, France's Louis XIV. A replica of Versailles Palace in Bavaria, this palace was his final and most costly project. Ludwig died in 1886. He did not live to see the palace's completion.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his castles

Mirror Room

As a perfect replica of Versailles, Herrenchiemsee also has a hall of mirrors, which is 98 meters long, has 17 round windows and the same number of mirrors above them. It also boasts 33 chandeliers and 44 candelabras. It is today the top attraction in the palace and is in fact seven meters longer than the one in Versailles.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his castles

Nymphenburg Palace

Ludwig II did not build Nymphenburg Palace but this is where he was born. Visitors to the palace can visit the room in which he was delivered. Some 300,000 visitors come here every year. During the summer they can glide across the park's canals in a gondola.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his castles

The King's House on Schachen

The view is spectacular but the building itself is surprisingly modest. Built at an altitude of 1,866 meters, Ludwig used this as a refuge when he was in the mountains. It can only be reached by a four-hour hike. Typically for Ludwig, he designed something very special.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his castles

Turkish Room

The entire first floor of Schachen is in an opulent oriental style. It is in stark contrast to the barren mountain surroundings. Ludwig celebrated several birthdays here. The guests were asked to dress as sultans and kalifs. It gave the events a feel of the Bosporus in the Alps.

Linderhof Palace, in turn, attracted 437,000 visitors. And more than 370,000 visited the Royal Palace of Herrenchiemsee.

New Bayreuth highlight

Bayreuth’s re-opened Margravial Opera House proved to be a major tourist magnet, too. After extensive restoration efforts, this magnificent Baroque theatre and World Heritage Site has now been restored to its former glory.

Margravial Opera House in Bayreuth

Last year, the Munich Residence was re-opened as well. The stunning edifice in the heart of the Bavarian capital boasts 21 fully restored exhibition rooms showcasing special collections of silver, porcelain and portrait miniatures. They bear testimony to four centuries of rich Bavarian history. "Bavaria’s palace department has once again proven that it is one of Germany’s leading cultural institutions and that it is instrumental to Bavaria’s tourist boom," said Bavarian Finance and Homeland Minister Albert Füracker. 

Bavaria’s prettiest construction site

September 5, 2019 will mark the 150th anniversary since the foundation stone of Neuschwanstein Castle was laid. To commemorate the occasion, some 20 million Euros will be invested to carry out extensive restoration work on Bavaria's most popular tourist attraction. But fret not, about two-thirds of the castle will still remain open to visitor groups which will be ushered though the edifice in five minute intervals.

ks/br (kna,dpa)