Herreninsel is the larger of two inhabited islands in Chiemsee, a Bavarian lake near the Austrian border. While it features a monastery which dates back to the 8th century, the site of the post-war conference which drafted West Germany’s constitution, the island’s main attraction is undoubtedly Herrenchiemsee. This was one of the three palaces built by the profligate 19th century Bavarian king, Ludwig II. But unlike Linderhof or the world-famous Neuschwanstein, Herrenchiemsee is not a pastiche of previous styles, rather it’s a copy of one particular building: the Palace of Versailles.
Ludwig’s palace is a salute to an era when monarchs were both the pinnacles of power and arbiters of style. But funds ran out before he could complete Herrenchiemsee, and only the central section was completed. As well as lavishly decorated rooms – boasting the world’s largest porcelain chandelier and a replica of the Hall of Mirrors – there are also eerie bare-walled loft-like spaces. The building’s façade makes an impressive centerpiece to the extensive landscaped gardens.
Herreninsel can be reached by ferry from the town of Prien am Chiemsee, which lies just off the main autobahn between Munich and Salzburg. By train, it’s about an hour from Munich’s main station.
Opening hours are dependent on boat schedules; learn more at http://www.herrenchiemsee.de/englisch/tourist/opening.htm