King Ludwig II of Bavaria – Life, Legacy, Legend

Ludwig II still fascinates to this day. No Bavarian ruler is better known beyond the borders of his homeland. Transfigured and glamorised as the "fairytale king", he attracts millions of tourists to Herrenchiemsee, Linderhof and Neuschwanstein every year. He has become an artificial figure behind which the historical personality almost completely disappears. But who was Ludwig II in real life and in what circumstances did he live?

bavarikon tries to answer this in this virtual exhibition. Eleven short chapters and an in-depth section show Ludwig II in the world of the 19th century. 150 digital documents, photographs, paintings, certificates and drawings provide information about the monarch’s life, suffering and passions and show you the drastic changes in the Kingdom of Bavaria. Among them are treasures of outstanding importance for Bavarian history, such as the Treaty of Accession to the German Empire or the “imperial letter” from 1870.


Ludwig II was raised strictly and came to the throne unprepared at the age of 18 in 1864. The young monarch was immediately faced with a multitude of complex challenges: Bavaria became more modern in the second half of the 19th century. With the founding of the German Empire in 1871, it lost its sovereignty, industrialisation and technical innovation gained momentum, the population grew, and social hardship emerged in the cities.

Ludwig never found his place as king, took refuge in fantasies, got into debt and was eventually incapacitated.


Photographs and historical documents bring you closer to the Bavarian ruler as a meticulous owner-builder and art enthusiast. See the "Kini’s" world-famous castles and at the same time go on a search for traces of his lesser-known building projects, which never got beyond their planning stage.


The mysterious death of Ludwig II gave rise to a myth: in Bavaria he was soon regarded as a courageous fighter against Prussia, who had a close bond with his people and his homeland. Monuments were erected in his honour. The king’s favourite animal was the swan, which is ever present in his buildings and in the culture of remembrance.

About the exhibition