Perhaps best known for his architectural legacy, “Mad” King Ludwig was born on August 25, 1845, and became the King of Bavaria on March 10, 1864. In the twenty-plus years of his reign, he was responsible for the creation of numerous buildings, many of which have since become popular tourist attractions, and almost all of which display, to say the least, an unusual aesthetic. Notable examples include the Winter Garden of the Residenz Palace in Munich (now dismantled); Neuschwanstein Castle (completed only after his death, and the inspiration for the Disneyland castles); parts of Linderhof Castle and Herrenchiemsee Castle. Ludwig was also unusual among monarchs in that he paid for the majority of his constructions out of his own pocket, rather than the realm’s.
In 1886, Ludwig’s uncle, Luitpold, deposed him amidst allegations of insanity – Ludwig’s castles being exhibit A. The following day, the king died in mysterious circumstances – he was found floating in shallow water in Lake Starnberg, but he had not drowned. Ludwig was known to be a strong swimmer, and in any case, an autopsy found no water in his lungs, nor other visible injuries. The likelihood is that he was either poisoned, or fell victim to a stroke or heart attack.
Ludwig is remembered fondly in Bavaria to this day, especially by those who work in the tourism sector.