Travel: Munich (Part II)

I apologize. At this point in my travels, the wanderlust has worn off and a sense of ennui has caught up with me. Hence, today was a lazy, hazy day. I had little motivation to cram as many events into my day as possible, therefore I slept in late, and meandered through town at a leisurely pace.

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First stop entailed a short visit to the Cuvilliés Theatre, which lies within the aforementioned Residenz Complex. It was ordered by Maximillian III Joseph outside the palace after a fire destored the previous St. George’s Hall. Construction spanned from 1751 to 1753 according to the design of François de Cuvilliés in rococo style.

If you look closely at the pictures from the Residenz Interior, you will see several rooms also exhibiting the Rococo Style. It is in this theater that Mozart’s Idomeneo premiered in 1781 and Carl Maria von Weber’s Abu Hassan in 1811. The theatre was intelligently meant to be multifunctional, and this was achieved via a floor that could be lowered or raised for ballroom festivities.

Lacking in energy, despite accomplishing little, I gave myself a reprieve by immersing myself in some casual reading and a glass of hot Chai (My favorite milky tea). Finally, summoning the impetus to move, I ventured to visit, now don’t be surprise, another palace.

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The Nymphenburg Palace was the main summer residence of the rulers of Bavaria designed in the Baroque style. The visionary was the italian architect Agostino Barelli, who was comissioned by the couple Ferdinand Maria and Henriette Adelaide of Savoy in 1664. It is within these walls that King Ludwig II was born in 1845, as the great-grandon of King Max I Joseph.

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While open to the public, the building continues to be home and chancery for the current Franz, Duke of Bavaria, who is head of the house of Wittelsbach. Jacobite, who trace the line of the British Monarchy through legal heirs of James II of England, he is the legitimate heir of the Stuart claims to the throne of Great Britain.

It is interesting to note however, that despite merely having a dukedom, this claim has not been actively pursued. I can’t say that I would have done the same in his place, albeit that as a ‘commoner’ I grew up with Disney Movies and imagined a happily ever after as a princess with a prince on a white horse to rescue her.

The Coach Museum:

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The Porcelain Museum:

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What are your thoughts on Monarchy? Democracy? I’m torn. While the medieival, monarchical period of history seems romantic, I also know that the power resulted in sever abuse and neglect of the general population. This doesn’t mean, however, that certain monarchs wielded economic and political decisions for the benefit of his people, in contrast to selfish gain by exploiting his subjects.

Travel: Bavarian Magic Castles

At this point in my trip, I have become increasingly uninterested in man-made structures, despite the story they tell about the daily lives of the clergy, royalty, and general population. Therefore, I took a day-trip to the heart of Bavaria; thankfully it was a gorgeous day filled with sunshine, that complemented my intense need to traipse through the natural undergrowth of the mountains.

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Modern day Bavaria comprises a large chunk of Southern Germany (approximately 27,200 square miles); this is 20% of the nation.  It originated as a duchy during the middle of the first millennium. Previously it had been inhabited by  Celts, but Bavarians began to emerge north of the alps, seeming to have coalesced out of the population remaining in the aftermath of the 5th century Roman withdrawal.

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This led way to the Duchy of Bavaria which was ruled by the house of Agilolfing from 554 to 788, before the last Duke Tassilo III was deposed by Charlemagne. In the following four centuries, numerous families held the post, but rarely did this extend beyond three generations.

 

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Fast-forward to the 1800s, when Napoleon abolished the Holy Roman Empire, Bavaria became a kingdom in 1806. It then preserved its independence by capitalizing on the rivalries during the 1866 Austro-Prussian War.

Eventually, Bavaria became a part of the German Empire despite religious tension between the protestant Prussian state and the Bavarian Catholic Population. 

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Sorry, I always let myself get overly enthusiastic about the origins and history of an area. Perhaps I should have chosen to be a history major or study anthropology or archeology instead! Nonetheless, the mountainous region was beautiful and capped off by a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle.

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The brainchild of Ludwig II, it was designed as a  Romanesque Revival in homage to Richard Wagner. Fortunately, Ludwig paid for the construction with his personal fortune or via borrowing instead of selfishly utilizing public funds. Unfortunately, the king died before the castle was complete, and therefore many of the major features remain unbuilt to this day, with only 14 rooms finished.

The Myth:

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Ludwig II is often called ‘Mad King Ludwig‘. His younger brother Otto was considered insane, so it is claimed to be hereditary. He was deposed on the grounds of mental incapacity despite lack of medical support.

Furthermore Ludwig II died under mysterious circumstances when both him and is doctor were found dead in the waist-high water of Lake Starnberg the day after his confinement. The doctor had managed to sustain unexplained injuries to both his head and shoulder.

 

 

Travel: Munich Residenz

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Leaving Vienna behind, I bypassed my original plan of Salzburg (due to limited hostel options) to southern Germany and the city of Munich. To be honest, at this point in my travels I was sufficiently exhausted of the exhausting routine of staying at one city for a few days, hopping a train, and continuing to make my away around and across Europe. However, Munich has a medley of fascinating sights, and a few of them provided my the additional motivation needed for my enthusiasm not to dwindle.

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The primary impetus involved a visit to the Residenz; On my walk through Old Town, I was able to pass through the Karlstor (one of four medieval city gates ), gape at the awe-inspiring Town Hall (a massive gothic-revival structure that dominates the square), and enjoy the machinations of the glockenspiel.

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Associated with the intricately detailed glockenspiel is a Myth. During the year of the plague, 1517, coopers are said to have danced through the streets to, “bring fresh vitality to fearful dispositions.” This dance became symbolic of the population’s perseverance  and their continued loyalty to the duke. As a result, this dance is traditionally performed every seven years, despite the current form not being defined until 1871.

Finally approaching the Residenz, one could not imagine the mysteries that lay within its walls. It is the former royal palace of the Bavarian Monarchs. The complex contains ten courtyards and encloses 130 rooms. Original builds were constructed in 1385, and financed as a sanction for the failed uprising against Stephen III and his younger brothers. Over the centuries it has been continuously developed, and after four hundred years, practically replaces the entire former city quarter. It now includes a large variety of styles such as Late-Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Neo-Classicism.

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I didn’t nearly expect to get suctioned into a black hole of wonder and history, yet the Residenz is one of the few former palaces that have achieved this. Each room is both unique and a surprise, as the former rooms give few clues about the what architectural secrets it may contain. The work is intricately detailed, and provides a foundation upon which I could imagine the richness and allure of holding the Bavarian Crown. 5 hours later, I was exhausted, and had completely depleted any energy I had.