Bavarian Fairytale Castles
Ludwig II succeeded to the throne of Bavaria in 1863, at the young age of only 18. Having been a romantic in his early youth, he was much more interested in fine arts than ruling his Kingdom. Ludwig increasingly withdrew from daily affairs of state in favour of pursuing extravagant artistic and architectural projects. He commissioned the construction of lavish palaces (Herrenchiemsee and Linderhof) and castles (Neuschwanstein) as well as other ornate and overwhelmingly decorative buildings. Ludwig was also a devoted supporter and loyal patron of the composer Richard Wagner.
King Ludwig spent most of his personal wealth on these projects, extensively borrowed additional money and defied all attempts by his government to be restrained. Eventually, this extravagance was used against him when he was declared clinically insane. His cousin and close friend, Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi) is cited saying that "The King was not mad; he was just an eccentric living in a world of dreams."
Ludwig died a mysterious death in 1886 which was officially ruled a suicide by drowning on the shores of Lake Starnberg, under circumstamces which remain questionable to this day.
Today, his architectural and artistic legacy includes many of Bavaria's - and in fact Germany's - best known tourist attractions.