The Fairy Tale World of Bavarians and Their Beloved King
Bavaria is often identified as a state of Germany, and it’s officially known as Freistaat Bayern, which translates in English as the Free State of Bavaria. Despite the country’s strategic alliance with the Prussian-led German Empire during the Austro-Prussian War that led to the kingdom’s addition to Germany as an autonomous state, Bavarians have been able to assert its unique culture and identity.
In its many towns and villages, the people of Bayern’s penchant for fairy tale is still evident, unaffected by the stoicism of German culture that strives to maintain strict discipline aimed at achieving perfection and precision in all aspects of life.
The annual Oktoberfest that is being celebrated by all beer lovers throughout the world is actually a Bavarian tradition, and not German as many are inclined to think. The famous and world-renowned Neuschwanstein Castle or the fairy tale castle that served as model to Disneyland’s iconic Sleeping Beauty palace, is the legacy of Bavarian King Ludwig II.
Sadly, King Ludwig II’s lack of discipline in handling the state’s financial affairs and disinterest in politics, caused him to lose not only his position as ruler of Bavaria, but also his reputation. He was branded as a Mad King, was arrested, and on the same day, met his untimely and mysterious death.
The People of Bavaria and King Ludwig II
Currently, Bavaria is the second largest economy among German states when it comes to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This gives them a prestigious status as one of Germany’s wealthiest regions.
Travel brochures usually highlight Bayern culture through their fairy-tale villages, ornate palaces, baroque churches, snow-capped Alpine peaks, and lush green highland meadows. Other tourists are more interested in Bavaria’s culinary specialties such as authentic sausages and dumplings, alongside rivers of beer.
Travelers can also experience the ambience of Bavaria’s folkloristic culture, where women wear dirndls and men don leather breeches.
Historians tend to credit the ruler’s of the region for the famous Bayern culture, as they have preferred fine arts over engaging in wars in more than 800 years. Even King Ludwig II’s grandfather Ludwig I’s, fervent ambition was to make Bavaria’s capital Munich, a center for the arts, science, and letters. Like Ludwig II, the senior Ludwig I was also into building museums, theaters, broad avenues and palaces.
Yet whenever that particular era is mentioned, the first king that comes into mind is King Ludwig II, the lonely “dream king” and a big fan of German composer Richard Wagner. Another notable fact about him is that he was the eccentric hermit and builder of the castles located in the Alps which includes the famous Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bayern.
Bavarians show their love for the revered king by hanging his portraits in their farmhouses, inns, and taverns. Others even honor their nightclubs and hotels with his name, while there are monuments of him found at the countryside. There are even societies and clubs named after King Ludwig. Historians have taken note that no other monarch has captured the imagination of Europe more than Ludwig II, except for France’s Louis XIV.