Touring Bavaria: searching for castles, kings, churches

bavarian white sausages

Bavaria is famous for its picturesque lakes, hiking trails, idyllic villages, castles, monasteries and Baroque churches.

In this region, there is always something new to explore and hidden treasures to be found, even for natives of Germany.

The Romantic Road winds its way across Bavaria from Würzburg and makes its finale in Füssen, a city known for its medieval houses, maze of intriguing side streets and the Hohe Schloss.

Inside the Hohe Schloss gallery, a fascinating collection of paintings and sculptures representing the late Gothic style, and artwork from the Bavarian and Swabian regions, is on display.

Visitors should also stop by the Baroque church Heilig-Geist-Spitalkirche, with its colorful facade and cupola fresco.

History buffs will enjoy the “Bavaria-Italy” exhibition, which focuses on the historical connection between the two cultures, on display through October at the former Benedictine monastery, St. Mang.

For those who enjoy more modern pursuits, Fussen offers small, quaint shops specializing in home decor,  one-of-a-kind artwork and tasteful trinkets, all meticulously arranged.

Leaving Füssen, on the way to Ettal and Oberammergau, visitors will pass the Plansee Lake in Tirol. This lake, which snakes through the Ammergauer Alpen mountain pass, offers a superior scenic experience.

“The Plansee reminded me of the landscape in New Zealand. The dark green pine trees, the mountains and the turquoise water were absolutely stunning. Just standing at the shore and dipping my toes into the water while looking at the scenery felt like a vacation, and was very relaxing,” said Christin Schweizer, from Stuttgart, who visited the Plansee in June.

Only a few kilometers away is Castle Linderhof, one of three castles (Neuschwanstein, Herrenchiemsee) built by the Bavarian “Fairy Tale King” Ludwig II. Linderhof is known as the “royal cottage” and was Ludwig’s favorite castle.
All its rooms are designed in the Neo Rococo style, meaning colorful and opulent decorations and paintings on the walls and ceilings.

Visitors will want to pay close attention to the  dining room and the table known as “Tischchen Deck Dich” (the magical preset table). A specially-designed mechanical system transported this “magical” table from the royal dining room, on the second floor, directly to the kitchen below. Servants set the table and then sent  it back up to the dining room.

Here, Ludwig II was able to enjoy his meals without being disturbed by servants.
Another highlight, reflecting Ludwig’s passion for romanticized operas and legends, is the Venus Grotto, an artificial stalactite cave, in Linderhof’s royal park area. A shell-shaped boat was designed for the king to paddle on an artificial lake. The cave was also illuminated with a colorful lighting system.

“The Venus Grotto is amazing and very romantic —  just out of this world, and therefore typical for Ludwig,” said Christine Schaefer of Leonberg.

While Germany has many enchanting locations, Bavaria should be on the top of everyone’s list of places to see because of its rich history, distinct culture and soul-stirring scenery.