It's coming up on October, and that means one thing around the world. It's time to have a beer and celebrate Oktoberfest. And, there's no place quite like the origin of the festival to celebrate; Munich, Germany. More than a million people visit this festival every fall however, and it gets a bit rowdy and crowded. It's great to party, but sometimes it's good to take a break and go to see something else. I mean, you've gone all the way to Germany, you should take in some sights.
There's a museum in Hohenschwangau that tells you what you need to know before you go out to see palaces and castles. The Museum of Bavarian Kings tells you all about just that. From Medieval times to the early 1900's the family Wittelsbach ruled Germany, and the most notorious of kings was Ludwig II. Why might that name ring a bell?
Ludwig II was known by many nicknames, but the most famous one was the Mad King. Ludwig II is infamous for building Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle was designed to be something right out of a fairy tale. He succeeded.
Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most famous castles in the world. There are more pictures of it on postcards and puzzles than any other castle. It wasn't ever fully finished and it was still being built when Ludwig died. Today it is a famous tourist attraction, and a great day trip from Munich.
Linderhof was another one of Ludwig's palaces. I bet you didn't even know the guy had more than one. This one is smaller than Neuschwanstein and easier to get to. It has a fabulous fountain and a grotto. What it isn't, is finished. Ludwig was the last of the kings and the one who spent all the money. So it goes. But, the palace here looks finished. It's just that the original design called for a much bigger palace. You will enjoy the grandeur though and the elaborate decor as well.
Just like the French palaces, Ludwig made each room a showpiece, including the bedrooms. Linderhof is another great day trip from Munich.
If the fact that Ludwig II had two palaces built isn't enough of a surprise for you, there is Herrenchiemsee or the new palace. This one was modeled after Versailles. The French set the standards in Europe for palace building up to and including the 1800's. Ludwig II wanted to keep up.
Once again, this palace isn't quite finished, but what is is amazing. The staircase is one of it's best features. Once again, the bedrooms are also out of this world and the ballroom is outstanding.
So, Munich is home to the world's first and most famous Oktoberfest. Second, you can only drink so much beer and endure so many crowds of rowdy people. Third, Bavaria is home to some beautiful Alps and amazing people, so you should get out and see it all. Fourth, Ludwig II aka the Mad King made some incredible castles and palaces. Fifth, you can include a trip to Oberammergau while you're out and if you get to go on a decade year like 2020; you will have a chance to see the Passion. That's the reenactment of some of the passion of the Christ. They only do it every ten years, so if you aren't going in 2020, you won't get to see the play.
There are a ton of things to do in Bavaria. It seems like a shame to miss it if you've come all that way to go to Oktoberfest. So, make sure you save a little time to get out of Munich and see the countryside. Europe is full of castles and palaces. This is a really interesting cluster of them and their history is something that fairy tales come from. So, take the time to check out the fairy castles of Ludwig II and the history of the kings of Bavaria. Enjoy!