The 125th Anniversary of the Death of King Ludwig II

A hundred twenty-five years ago, Bavaria's "Maerchenkoenig" (or "Fairy-tale King") Ludwig II died under very mysterious circumstances at the age of 40, his body found floating in Lake Starnberg, south of Munich. Today, Ludwig remains famous for the castles he built and attempted to build, most notably Neuschwanstein Castle, perched high in the Alpine foothills. The king was a romantic, a friend and suporter of composer Richard Wagner, and he hired theatrical set designers rather than architects to design his castles. More absorbed in his personal world than state affairs, Ludwig spent most of his time on his own projects -- emptying his personal coffers -- and left his ministers frustrated by his inattention. When his cabinet accused him of insanity, he was placed in custody after a brief showdown at Neuschwanstein Castle, and was taken to a castle next to Lake Starnberg. The following day, while out for a walk, Ludwig disappeared, his lifeless body discovered hours later. The death was declared a suicide, but many have rejected that ruling, and the demise of this popular king remains a mystery to this day.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Ted Somerville

    2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest, Part II

    The contest is still under way.

  • Gabriela Bhaskar / Reuters

    Ramadan 2017 in the USA

    Images of Muslim Americans observing Eid al-Fitr and Ramadan this year in New York, Connecticut, California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey

  • Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 6/17–6/23

    A heatwave in Europe, floating solar farms in China, the America’s Cup in Bermuda, the Royal Highland Show in Scotland, and much more

  • Anthony Wallace / AFP / Getty

    Scenes From Hong Kong, 'Pearl of the Orient'

    Images of the vertical cityscape, street scenes, monuments, people, and natural landscapes of Hong Kong.

Join the Discussion