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Venus Grotto

Venus Grotto at Linderhof Palace.
Venus Grotto at Linderhof Palace.

Outside of Germany, King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886) is probably most famous as the builder of Neuschwanstein Castle, which today is Germany's most popular tourist destination and most photographed building, and is featured in many movies. During his lifetime, he commissioned three palaces. The small Linderhof Palace, near Oberammergau in southwestern Bavaria, is the only one that he saw completed. There, between 1876 and 1877, Ludwig had a wholly artificial grotto built out of iron, canvas and cement. Bavaria's first power station with twenty-four generators lit the grotto, using color filters made by chemical company BASF specifically for this purpose. The painting in the background illustrates the First Act of the "Tannhäuser" by romantic composer Richard Wagner, subject of Ludwig's obsession. Ludwig would either be rowed across the lake or overlook everything sitting on a throne in a booth located to the left of this scene.

After he nearly ran both the state of Bavaria and his own family into bankruptcy with his building projects, he was declared insane and arrested in the early hours of June 12, 1886. Ludwig was taken to Castle Berg near Lake Starnberg, south of Munich. The evening of June 13th, he asked his doctor to accompany him on a walk along the shore of the lake. At about 11:30 that night, both were found floating in the knee-deep water near the lake's shore. The mystery of their death is still unsolved.

The equipment used for this picture was my first digital camera, the Canon EOS 300D (Digital Rebel), using a flimsy tripod and the kit lens of my old film EOS 300, the Canon EF 28-90 ƒ/4-5.6. The picture was taken on August 20, 2005 with a shutter speed of 0.6 seconds, an apperture of ƒ/4, 200 ISO and a focal length of 28 mm. More pictures of this trip around Germany are available in a photo album.

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