Herrenchiemsee is a complex of royal buildings on the Herreninsel, an island in the Chiemsee, Bavaria's largest lake, 60 km south east of Munich. Together with the neighbouring island of Frauenchiemsee and the uninhabited Krautinsel it forms the municipality of Chiemsee. The Augustine Monastery Herrenchiemsee, later converted into the Old Palace (Altes Schloss), and Herrenchiemsee Palace, also known as the New Palace (Neues Schloss), are the most famous of these buildings and the largest of King Ludwig II of Bavaria's palaces.
Herrenchiemsee Abbey (Old Palace)
Herrenchiemsee Benedictine Abbey was established in about 765 at the northern tip of the Herreninsel by Duke Tassilo III of Bavaria. In 969 Emperor Otto I granted the abbey to the Archbishops of Salzburg, who in about 1130 re-established Herrenchiemsee as a monastery of Canons Regular living under the Augustinian rule. In 1215, with the approval of Pope Innocent III, Prince-Bishop Eberhard von Regensberg made the monastery church the cathedral of a diocese in its own right, the Bishopric of Chiemsee, including several parishes on the mainland and in Tyrol.
In the course of the German Mediatisation, Herrenchiemsee Abbey was secularised in 1803 and the Chiemsee bishopric finally dissolved in 1808. The island was then sold; various owners demolished the cathedral and turned the abbey into a brewery. Plans for the complete deforestation of the island were blocked by King Ludwig II, who acquired Herrenchiemsee in 1873. He had the leftover buildings converted for his private use, the complex that later became known as the "Old Palace", where he stayed surveying the construction of the New Herrenchiemsee Palace.
From 10 to 23 August 1948, the representatives of eleven German states of the Western Zones and West Berlin met at the Old Palace as the Verfassungskonvent (Constitutional Convention) to prepare the work for drafting the Basic Law (Grundgesetz) with a view to the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Herrenchiemsee Palace (New Palace) Herrenworth Palace
The unfinished New Palace was designed by Christian Jank, Franz Seitz, and Georg von Dollmann and built between 1878 and 1885. Between 1863 and 1886 a total of 16,579,674 Marks was spent constructing Herrenchiemsee. An 1890 '20 Mark' gold coin contained 0.2304 troy ounce (7.171 g) of gold. Therefore, 16,579,674 Marks would equate to 190,998 oz of gold, which at October 2013 gold prices was worth approximately £154,000,000 Sterling or (October 2013) US$250,100,000.
Ludwig only had the opportunity to stay within the Palace for a few days in September 1885. After his death in the following year, all construction work discontinued and the building was opened for the public. The nearly complete North Wing, was demolished in 1907. A cottage stands in its place. In 1923 Crown Prince Rupprecht gave the palace to the State of Bavaria.
Unlike the medieval design of Neuschwanstein Castle begun in 1869, the New Palace is, in a sense, a Neo-Baroque monument to Ludwig's admiration of King Louis XIV of France. In the great hall of mirrors of the palace the ceiling is painted with 25 tableaux showing Louis XIV at his best.
It was to have been an equivalent to the Palace of Versailles, but only the central portion was built before the king died in 1886, whereafter construction was discontinued leaving 50 of the 70 rooms of the palace incomplete. It was never meant to be a perfectly exact replica of Versailles and in several places surpasses it. Like Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors has 17 arches, the Hall of Peace and the Hall of War on either side have three windows each. The window niches at Herrenciemsee are wider than those at Versailles, resulting in an overall greater width of the central part of the facade of a few metres. The dining room features an elevator table and a huge chandelier of Meissen porcelain, the largest in the world. The building also benefits from nearly two centuries of technological progress, while the original Versailles palace did not have a single toilet and the only running water was outside in the fountains. King Ludwig's "copy" has more modern facilities including a central heating system and a large heated bathtub. Also, unlike Versailles, it was built on an island and is now only accessible by a small ferry - thereby Herrenchiemsee always remained slightly in the shadow of Neuschwanstein.
The main palace building was shaped in an 'U' with cloisters around the inside. Also, only 16 of the 70 rooms were on the ground floor. 
The formal gardens are filled with fountains, a copy of the Versailles Bassin de Latone and statues in both the classical style typical of Versailles and in the fantastic style typical of romanticism that was favored by King Ludwig. Statues reminiscent of classical antiquity are found throughout the gardens, overwrought in the grand style of Richard Wagner's romantic operas.
- Dr. Michael Petzet, König Ludwig II und die Kunst" (King Ludwig II and the Arts), Munich, Germany, 1963.
Media related to Schloss Herrenchiemsee at Wikimedia Commons
- Herrenchiemsee Page of Bavarian Palace Department (English): http://www.herren-chiemsee.de/englisch/n_palace/index.htm
- Herrenchiemsee Page of Bavarian Palace Department (German): http://www.herren-chiemsee.de/deutsch/n_schloss/index.htm