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Aug 2015

brigenna Celtic (river name) lit. coming from the mountains + am chiemsee German lit. on the pond, sea.

Population - 10,725.

Bavaria Coat of Arms

40 miles south-east of Munich city centre and from there you can get here directly by train. A word of warning, the train might split at Rosenheim and you'll find yourself on the way to Salzburg instead. Some phrasebook fun with the 'clippy' to clarify this situation followed by a now customary...

'I'm sorry, my German is not good.'
It's OK, my English is not good - she replies.
'But you are German.'
NEIN! BAVARIA!

So, a little something of regional pride has been learnt and they take a lot of pride in their town here.

Prien am Chiemsee Prien am Chiemsee - Pfarrkirche Mariä Himmelfahrt

The centre is immaculate and the Pfarrkirche Mariä Himmelfahrt looks like you could be in LEGOLAND™.

 
Bäckerei Müller (Marktplatz)

More phrasebook fun as you attempt to negotiate a bewildering array of unpronounceable cakes.

 
Heimatmuseum (Valdagno-Platz)

A handful of €euros for a little bit of local history and a good value gallery.

Prien am Chiemsee - Heimatmuseum

Some of the building might even be 14th century, they say.

So, why having just arrived, are you leaving the pristine behind and walking the best part of a mile east? Here's for why, to see the See, you see.

Yes, here's bang near the bottom of Bavaria and with the Alps providing the backdrop, Chiemsee is the 4th largest lake in Germany.

Prien am Chiemsee - Chiemsee Prien am Chiemsee - Ferry

This is a popular place and all of your watery activities are catered for. Sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, I could go on but that might just seem like padd(l)ing. There's also a big old ferry landing here but where could they possibly be going?

Dunno? One of the islands... Herreninsel say?

There's a minor spoiler on your way to the island and on arrival, there's a short walk to be done to your final destination.

Near Prien am Chiemsee - Herreninsel Near Prien am Chiemsee - Herreninsel - Neues Schloss Herrenchiemsee

Now, I've never been but Mrs Guff has and despite nursing the queen of hangovers that day, she says, this was all too familiar to her. Why, it's only the Palace of Versailles! Well, not quite.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria was such a paid up member of the  Louis XIV fan club, he only went and recreated the Sun King's palace here on the island some 200 years later.

Well, not quite.

Born near Munich in Nymphenburg, Ludwig inherited the Kingdom of Bavaria aged just 18.

Ludwig II by Ferdinand von Piloty

Bavaria, however, was soon swallowed up by the new German Reich and he was king in name only with little or no authority. A big fan of Wagner and an even bigger believer in the '  divine right of kings', he naturally turned his attention to the building trade, specifically, the lavish construction of indulgent palaces, obviously.

You might want to pull up a chair...

In 1878, the cement mixers were sent spinning for the construction of  Herrenchiemsee, the very thing of which ignorance has been feigned and the real reason for a visit. Having borrowed heavily to fund this, some uppity government types conspired to concoct an ousting, of sorts.

In June 1886, having been banished to a different, lakeside castle, Ludwig and the psychiatrist Dr Bernhard von Gudden went for a walk in the woods. Von Gudden had co-signed a deposition declaring Ludwig insane and several hours later, after a storm, both of their bodies were found... dead in the water![1].

That put an end to construction and they never got round to the wings. Ludwig only ever spent a handful of nights here but he'd have the last laugh. Some of the the windows here are wider than Versailles making the building slightly larger. That's right, it's one larger.

[1] Why hasn't there been a film made of this[2]?
[2] Oh! It seems  there has.

You're free to wander around the gardens and grounds but they dictate the pace of the guided tour inside.

Near Prien am Chiemsee - Schlosspark Herrenchiemsee

There's nothing downstairs and just the single, marbled staircase but the Great Hall of Mirrors, not shown, is quite a piece of work.

Other highlights are a tiny bed and a contraption for hoisting his dinner table upstairs. It was also good to hear that all of his teeth fell out, he piled on the pounds and took to only going out at night calling himself the 'Moon' King.

Despite glossing over the fact that there were severe mental health issues here, probably, that's one tall tale and somebody should make a film of this. Oh! They already have.

Meanwhile, back on the mainland, there's no real reason to walk back to the town centre, they've laid on a chuff-chuff for that. It dates from 1887 when Ludwig's successor opened the partially finished palace to the public and tourism here was born.

Prien am Chiemsee - Die Chiemsee-Bahn

It operates seasonally and it's just under a €  euro a minute but... what's that you ask?

Of course we did!