During the Middle Ages, Germany, including Munich and Bavaria, was divided into intensely competitive feudal states and principalities. This unstable atmosphere encouraged the construction of fortified castles. As hostilities died down, architects began to design for comfort, style, and prestige, adding large windows, gilded stucco and plaster, frescoes, and formal gardens. As a result, Bavaria is full of all kinds and styles of Burgen (castles) and Schlösser (palaces).
- Neuschwanstein, near Füssen: When the creators of California's Disneyland needed an inspiration for their fairy-tale castle, this was their model. Neuschwanstein is the most lavishly romantic (and impractical) castle in the German-speaking world. A 19th-century theatrical set designer drew it up in a neofeudal style. The man who ordered its construction was (who else?) "Mad" King Ludwig II of Bavaria.
- Hohenschwangau Castle, near Füssen: It was completed in 1836 and built on the ruins of a 12th-century fortress. Its patron was the youthful prince regent, Maximilian II of Bavaria, who used it to indulge his taste for "troubadour Romanticism" and the life of the English country manor.
- Schloss Nymphenburg, Munich: It was originally conceived and constructed between 1664 and 1674 as an Italian-inspired summer home for Bavarian monarchs. Subsequent Bavarian kings added to its structure, and by around 1780, the building and lavish park bore a close resemblance to the French palace at Versailles. A highlight of the interior is the green, gold, and white banqueting hall, with frescoes and ornate stucco that are among the most memorable in Bavaria.
- Schloss Linderhof, near Oberammergau: This palace, built in the 1870s, was a teenage indulgence of Ludwig II. Its architects created a whimsically eclectic fantasy, inspired by Italian baroque architecture. In the surrounding park, Moorish pavilions and Mediterranean cascades appear against Alpine vistas in combinations that are both startling and charming.
- Residenz, Munich: The official residence of the Wittelsbach dynasty from 1385 to 1918, the Residenz is a grand royal palace. Of particular fascination is the Antiquarium built in 1569, the largest Renaissance ceremonial hall north of the Alps and the oldest surviving part of the palace. The Cuvilliés Theater is one of the finest rococo theaters in the world, and the treasure-trove that forms the Schatzkammer is one of the grandest in Germany.
- Neues Schloss, Chiemsee: Called "a monument to uncreative megalomania," this castle, begun in 1878 by Ludwig II, stands on the island of Herrenchiemsee, in the midst of Chiemsee, one of the most beautiful lakes in the Bavarian Alps. The chief attraction is its splendid Great Hall of Mirrors, the most authentic replica of the more famous hall at Versailles outside Paris. Ludwig was able to spend only 9 days in the palace. At his death, only 20 of the 70 rooms he envisioned had been completed.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.