Situated between Munich and Salzburg, Schloss Herrenchiemsee is a palace on an island in the middle of a lake (Ludwig took his isolation pretty seriously). It was modelled on Versailles and while not quite a replica, various components – the Hall of Mirrors, the Ambassadors’ Staircase and much of the façade – are faithfully reproduced. This is architecture as drag – a playback of past styles, deracinated, too perfect, gloriously bogus. No less ersatz, of course, than the Louis the Umpteenth furniture used as a signifier of wealth and sophistication by expensive hotels and dull rich people to this day, but on a scale which reflected Ludwig’s obsessive devotion to his beloved Bourbons.
Work began in 1878 but was abandoned seven years later; one wing had been partially built and was subsequently demolished. The fact that Ludwig wasn’t able to complete his homage makes it all the more fascinating (note the unfinished windows in the photo above). One room in high Rococo style dominated by a vast porcelain chandelier adjoins a huge unfinished space with bare brick walls and floorboards which a realtor would describe as a “Manhattan loft-style live-work unit”.
Sadly I wasn’t allowed to photograph the interior but hopefully these photos evoke something of the spirit of the place.