To common Bavarians he was “our cherished King” but nobles claimed him to be “Mad”. To this day, mystery surrounds his death in the waters of Lake Starnberg.
By Crispin Andrews
Take a relaxing boat trip on Lake Starnberg, twenty six kilometres south of Munich. Germany’s fifth largest freshwater lake stretches twenty kilometres from Starnberg, in the north, the town where actress Marianne Sagebrecht was born and Formula One driver, Adrain Sutil and Kronospan heir, Gerhard Kaindl live; to Seeshaupt, in the south, where you can enjoy the Lido restaurant’s lakeside beer garden.
Look further south, you’ll see the outline of the Benediktenwand and Wetterstein mountain ranges. All around you is water, peace, and tranquillity.
Until, that is, you reach the small town of Berg, on the north east corner of the lake. If you take the three-hour roundtrip from Starnberg, it’s almost at the end of your journey. There, a few meters from shore, a cross juts out of the water. A still, silent echo of the final moments of Lake Starnberg’s most famous resident—even if he only lived there for one day.
On the shore, is another, larger cross, and behind it, a small chapel. A memorial chapel. Grand enough, but small when compared to the wonderful castles and palaces built by the man whose memory it recognizes. On June 13th, King Ludwig II of Bavaria is said to have died on this spot. Suicide by drowning was the official verdict, although there have always been doubts about what really happened to Bavaria’s “Fairy Tale King” that night.
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