Leaving Burghausen Castle, we headed straight for Gstadt am Chiemsee and I’d be lying if I said my thoughts the entire drive weren’t completely centered around food.
We arrived at our hotel in Gstadt am Chiemsee – Hotel ChiemseePanorama; just past lunch-time and wasted no time whatsoever in checking in and hopping on a boat headed for Herreninsel, the largest island in the Chiemsee Lake. (I think ‘see’ is ‘lake’ in German and ‘insel’ is ‘island’).
Herreninsel is a fascinating island – it’s home to certain bats you can only find around here (if I remember that correctly – we didn’t see any though), wild deer and one of the most amazing palaces in all of Germany – Herrenchiemsee Palace. (And trust me – I don’t say that lightly at all – I’ll show you exactly what I mean below).
Ridiculously hungry upon arrival, we stopped off at the restaurant right next to the monastery on the island for a quick bite to eat.
Spätzle for Lloyd and steak for me (which led me to food envy once I tasted Lloyd’s meal – I kinda realised at that moment that I maaaaaay be in Spätzle way more than I thought).
Lunch over – we head off in search of Herrenchiemsee Palace, which is a 10 – 15 minute walk through the woods to get to.
On arrival at the palace, it looked pretty regular from the outside. Like it looked ‘palatial’ but nothing overly distinct that set it apart from many other palaces we’d visited in the past. The outside doesn’t tell the full story though…
Walking in, I very quickly found that old adage of not judging a book by its cover to be so true here as it’s pretty impressive from the get-go.
It wasn’t however until I arrived at the State Staircase that so many pieces of the puzzle finally came together!
See, I’ve never been to the Palace of Versailles (in France) before so I didn’t recognise it from the outside but this Palace was built by King Ludwig II (the same king who built the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle) as pretty much a replica of the Palace of Versailles!
King Ludwig was obsessed with King Louis XIV (the sun king of France) and having been a guest at Versailles in the past, decided to build this Palace as a mirror image of it.
Stepping into the State Staircase just brought back all the residual knowledge I had of the Palace but it was the tour through the palace that cemented all the different pieces together (I must have asked like 1 million questions as we went through).
The rooms here are absolutely as grand, gorgeous and intricately designed as you can imagine.
The palace was never finished (as you can see from this corridor below) and the King only stayed here like a handful of times but the bits that are (and there’s a lot of it that was) are absolutely amazing!
This (below) by the way, is just one of the guest bedrooms – not even the King’s room!
Ironically, King Ludwig II was not one for crowds and was something of a loner so didn’t really have guests over. (I think it was either his cousin or some actor that stayed over once).
The same actually applies for most of Ludwig’s other castles. They were never built for public consumption – they were his masterpieces that he built just for himself – apparently almost bankrupting his household in the process.
That’s the other thing about this too. Ludwig never used state money to build his palaces. He used his private fortune to build all of this and his extravagance was much to the chagrin of the German Chancellor who thought he should be using his fortune more to do something for the state.
Room after room of gilded gold designs leads you to easily one of my favourite parts in Herrenchiemsee Palace – the hall of mirrors.
If you’ve ever been to Versailles then you’ll recognise this straight away but if you’ve never been before, then you’re in for a treat! This room is just incredible!
There’s literally not a single bad angle in here and it’s just so amazing to take it all in as it’s absolutely stunning.
Can you just imagine what it must have looked like back in the day with all the candle lit up at night?
After spending an obscene amount of time just marvelling at the hall of mirrors, we ventured off to check out more of Herrenchiemsee Palace, stopping off to take in a view of the grounds from above…
…before venturing into the King’s bedroom – clad in royal blue and gold. By the way, you can’t really tell from the photo but if you look to the right, there’s a ‘secret’ door here with a staircase that leads down to the King’s bathroom (I’ll show you what that looks like further down).
We carried on through the many other rooms constantly mouthing “Wow!” as we can across beautifully-designed room after beautifully-designed room.
The dining room is home to some amazing gems – one of which is the intricate flowers in a vase, sat in prime position in the middle of the room.
The ‘flowers’ in this vase look surprisingly realistic but are in fact made of porcelain (like every single bit of it is porcelain – even the petals and ‘dry leaves’).
The detail in it is just incredible but if you look up, you’ll see another amazing piece in the form of a chandelier.
Again, intricately designed, right down to crinkles in the flowers and very much one of a kind. It is actually the largest every Meissen chandelier ever made.
As soon as this was built for the King, the plans were destroyed so no one could make one like this again. You can still buy similar ones by the chandelier makers if you visit the German town of Meissen but suffice to say, it’ll set you back a pretty penny.
The other fascinating thing about this room, which you can tell from just looking at it is the levitating dining table (which the flowers are sitting on).
Fascinated by childhood tales about disappearing tables, King Ludwig ordered that a lift system be built that allowed for the food to be ‘magically’ winged up from the kitchen below and disappear once dinner was over. (I’ll show you what that looks like below).
After much “Ooooh”ing and “Aaaaah”ing, we left the main rooms and headed downstairs…
…where you can see the dining table lift I mentioned earlier
…and the King’s bath, which is about the size of a pretty decent swimming pool by today’s standards.
The changing room is right next to the bath and from here, you can see where the door upstairs in the King’s bedroom, leads to.
Passing by the King’s staircase (there’s one in every one of his palaces), we headed out of the palace, still fascinated and amazed by everything we’d gotten to see in this amazing palace!
A quick wander of the grounds and a reminder on my phone about the boat, led to us hot-footing it back to the harbour.
We actually ended up finding some wild deer on the way over too (this almost never happens as they’re fairly skittish and tend to stay away from people)
With that, we bade farewell to the absolutely beautiful Herrenchiemsee Palace and its amazing gilded rooms and intricate hallways as we hopped back on the boat headed for Gstadt am Chiemsee.
As we arrived back around dinner time, we decided to head over to Café Inselblick for food and Aperol Spritz (plus a large strawberry lemonade for me – I’m kinda going through a phase with them at the moment).
Dinner was a bit ‘Meh!’ though this was probably down to our choice as I thought I ordered something different to what arrived on my plate 😆. The reputation of the restaurant is pretty good so I’d happily give it another chance and just get something I know I’d like here.
The dessert more than made up for it though…
…and with that, we headed back to our hotel to call it a night – still amazing bt the beautiful Herrenchiemsee Palace and looking forward even more to all the other amazing places we’d planned to see on our trip across Bavaria.