Herrenchiemsee is a complex of royal buildings on Herreninsel, an island in the Chiemsee, Bavaria's largest lake. After being purchased by King Ludwig II of Bavaria the former Herrenchiemsee monastery was converted into a royal residence known as the Old Palace (Altes Schloss), while the king built Herrenchiemsee Palace also known as the New Palace (Neues Schloss), the largest of his palaces.
The unfinished New Palace was designed by Christian Jank, Franz Seitz, and Georg von Dollmann and built between 1878 and 1885. Ludwig only had the opportunity to stay within the Palace for a few days in September 1885. After his death by drowning at just 40 in the following year, all construction work discontinued and the building was opened for the public. In 1923 Crown Prince Rupprecht gave the palace to the State of Bavaria.
Unlike the medieval themed Neuschwanstein Castle begun in 1869, the Neo-Baroque New Palace stands as a monument to Ludwig's admiration of King Louis XIV of France. Its great hall of mirrors' ceiling is painted with 25 tableaux showing Louis XIV at his best.
The palace was shaped in a 'W' with wings flanking a central edifice. Only 16 of the 70 rooms were on the ground floor. It was to have been an equivalent to the Palace of Versailles, but only the central portion was built before the king died and construction was discontinued with 50 of the 70 rooms still incomplete. It was never intended to be a perfectly exact replica of the French royal palace and in several places even surpasses it. Like Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors has 17 arches, the Hall of Peace and the Hall of War on either side have three windows each. The window niches at Herrenchiemsee are wider than those at Versailles, making its central façade a few metres wider. The dining room features an elevator table and the world's largest Meissen porcelain chandelier. Technologically, the building also benefits from nearly two centuries of progress. While the original Versailles palace lacked toilets, water, and central heat, the New Palace has all of these, including a large heated bathtub.
Being built on an island it is only accessible by water, today via a system of small ferries. As a result, and of being unfinished, Herrenchiemsee always remained slightly in the shadow of Neuschwanstein.
The formal gardens are filled with fountains, a copy of the Versailles Bassin de Latone, and statues in both the classical style typical of Versailles and the fantastic romanticism favored by King Ludwig. Statues reminiscent of antiquity are found throughout the gardens, overwrought in the grand style of Richard Wagner's romantic operas.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.