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New Palace, May 2005
Herrenchiemsee is a complex of royal buildings on the Herreninselmarker, an island in the middle of the Chiemseemarker, Bavariamarker's largest lake, 60 km south east of Munichmarker. Together with the neighbouring island of Frauenchiemseemarker and the uninhabited Krautinsel it forms the municipality of Chiemseemarker. The Augustine Monastery Herrenchiemsee, later converted into the Old Palace (Altes Schloss), and Herrenchiemsee Palace, also known as the New Palace (Neues Schloss), are the most famous of these buildings and the largest of King Ludwig II of Bavaria's palaces.

Herrenchiemsee Abbey (Old Palace)

Herrenchiemsee monastery
Herrenchiemsee Benedictine Abbey was established about 765 at the northern peak of the Herreninsel by Duke Tassilo III of Bavaria. In 969 Emperor Otto I granted to the Archbishops of Salzburg, who about 1130 re-established Herrenchiemsee as a monastery of Canons Regular living under the Augustinian rule. With approval of Pope Innocent III, Prince-Bishop Eberhard von Regensberg in 1215 made the monastery church the cathedral of a diocese in its own right, the Bishopric of Chiemsee including several parishes on the mainland and in Tyrol.

In the course of the German Mediatisation in 1803 Herrenchiemsee Abbey was secularised and the Chiemsee bishopric finally dissolved in 1808. The island then was sold, various owners demolished the cathedral and turned the abbey into a brewery. Plans for the complete deforestation of the island were blocked by King Ludwig II, who acquired Herrenchiemsee in 1873. He had the leftover buildings converted for his private use, the complex that later became known as the "Old Palace", where he stayed surveying the construction of the New Herrenchiemsee Palace.

From 10 to 23 August 1948, the representatives of eleven German states of the Western Zones and West Berlin met at the Old Palace as the Verfassungskonvent (Constitutional Convention) to prepare the work for drafting the Basic Law (Grundgesetz) with a view to the founding of the Federal Republic of Germanymarker.

Herrenchiemsee Palace (New Palace)

The unfinished New Palace was designed by Christian Jank, Franz Seitz, and Georg Dollman and built between 1878 and 1885. Between 1863 and 1886 a total of 16,579,674 Marks was spent constructing Herrenchiemsee. An 1890 '20 Mark' gold coin contained 0.2304 troy ounce (7.171 g) of gold. Therefore, 16,579,674 Marks would equate to 190,998 oz of gold, which at recent gold prices (March 2007) is worth approximately £70,500,000GBP or (August 2007) $125,400,000 USD.

Ludwig only had the opportunity to stay within the Palace for a few days in September 1885. After his death in the following year, all construction works discontinued and the building was opened for the public. In 1923 Crown Prince Rupprecht gave the palace to the State of Bavaria.

Herrenchiemsee was one of the featured locations in the 1995 computer game The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery, set in Bavaria with a storyline heavily involving Ludwig II and Wagner.


Front of the New Palace
Unlike the medieval design of Neuschwanstein Castlemarker begun in 1869, the New Palace is, in a sense, a Neo-Baroque monument to Ludwig's adoration of King Louis XIV of France. In the great hall of mirrors of the palace the ceiling is painted with 25 tableaux showing Louis XIV at his best.

It was to have been an equivalent to the Palace of Versaillesmarker, but only the central portion was built before the king died in 1886, whereafter construction works discontinued leaving 50 of the 70 rooms of the palace incomplete. It was never meant to be a perfectly exact replica of Versailles and in several places surpasses it. With a length of and 23 arches the Hall of Mirrors is larger than the Versailles equivalentmarker. The dining room features an elevator table and a huge chandelier of Meissen porcelainmarker, the largest in the world. The building also benefits from nearly two centuries of technological progress, while the original Versailles palace did not have a single toilet and the only running water was outside in the fountains. King Ludwig's "copy" has more modern facilities including a central heating system and a large heated bathtub. Also, unlike Versailles, it was built on an island and is now only accessible by a small ferry - thereby Herrenchiemsee always remained slightly in the shadow of Neuschwanstein.


One of the fountains in the castle's gardens
The formal gardens are filled with fountains, a copy of the Versaillesmarker Bassin de Latone and statues in both the classical style typical of Versailles and in the fantastic style typical of romanticism that was favored by King Ludwig. Cool maidens which look as if they have stepped out of a museum of classical antiquity are never too far from dragons, winged warriors, giant lizards and other extravagant beings which look as if they have come from one of Richard Wagner's romantic operas.


  1. Dr. Michael Petzet, König Ludwig II und die Kunst" (King Ludwig II and the Arts), Munich, Germany, 1963.

External links

  • Herrenchiemsee Page of Bavarian Palace Department (English):
  • Herrenchiemsee Page of Bavarian Palace Department (German):

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