Let them eat kuchen

So after I posted a couple of days ago about Ludwig II I remembered I had some photos kicking around somewhere of the palace Herrenchiemsee and its surrounds which I visited almost 10 years ago.

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.



  1. Linda Hollander

    Wow, it really does look like Versailles! The allees are very evocative…at least your photos are, James.
    Anyone interested in houses (!) modelled after Versailles might do well to check out Oldway Mansion, the former home of the Singer family of sewing machine fame, and of Paris and Winnaretta Singer the two best-known children of Isaac Singer. It is in Paignton, England, and while the outside is fashioned after the Grand Trianon, the interior has a Hall of Mirrors and — I don’t know, memory fails me– some Versailles-ian staircase. Pretty impressive and you can see pics via Wikipedia, or Google Oldway Mansion.

    I must say James, there MUST be Strange Flowers who aren’t Teutonic and I look to you to find them — get cracking! Not that this recent spate hasn’t been extremely interesting, but GEEEEZ!

    • I know, I know! I used to worry that my flowers were generally too Euro-centric, and now they seem to be either French or German.

      Thanks for the tip on Paignton; definitely some Versailles worship going on there. Actually the outside also looks a bit Jefferson-style Palladian. Quite the mixture.

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