Venus grotto

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View inside the Venus Grotto

The Venus Grotto was built on the decree of King Ludwig II of Bavaria on December 15, 1875 in the park of Linderhof Palace under the direction of the set designer August Dirigl and completed in 1877.

Architecture and design

The grotto was built as an iron structure, the partition walls of which were covered with impregnated canvas, which in turn was sprayed with a cement mixture from which the artificially created stalactites are made.

The grotto is divided into two secondary grottos and one main grotto, which, depending on the lighting , was modeled on the Blue Grotto on Capri or the Venus Grotto in Hörselberg from the Wagner opera Tannhäuser . In keeping with the theme, the painting "Tannhäuser bei Frau Venus" by August von Heckel , which is located in the background of the main grotto, represents the 1st act of "Tannhäuser".

The king also had the grotto painted with landscape paintings and scenes from the Wagner opera Tannhäuser, which were coated with wax to protect against moisture. A waterfall and a shell-shaped boat were specially made for use in the grotto.

Seven ovens were needed to heat the grotto. It was also heated a few days in advance in summer because it was quite cool there. A rainbow projection apparatus and a wave machine were supposed to make the illusion perfect when the king let himself row around on the artificial lake.

The electrical lighting system installed at the time, which was put into operation in 1878, was a special technical feature. Its 24 dynamo machines made by Siemens & Halske are considered the first Bavarian power station and the world's first permanently installed power station. A steam engine housed in a specially built machine house drove these dynamos.

Difficulties arose when trying to recreate the blue of the grotto of Capri, and for a long time it was not possible to meet the king's expectations. His desire for a bluer blue was an incentive for the still young paint industry and gave the Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik ( BASF ) in Ludwigshafen am Rhein a patent from the Imperial Patent Office for the production of artificial indigos four years after Ludwig's death .

The Venus Grotto today

Today the grotto would not be as romantic as it was back then: heating, rainbows and waves are dispensed with, the backdrop is severely damaged by penetrating water and nets and scaffolding protect against the risk of falling pieces of cement. Due to extensive repair work that should last until 2024, it is currently not accessible to visitors anyway.


  • Uta Hassler, Julia Berger, Kilian Jost: Constructed mountain experiences - waterfalls, alpine scenery, illuminated nature . Hirmer, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-7774-2579-5 .
  • Uta Hassler (ed.): Rock gardens, garden grottos, mountains of art: Motifs of nature in architecture and gardens . Hirmer, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-7774-2269-5 .
  • Kilian Jost: Rock landscapes - a building task of the 19th century. Grottoes, waterfalls and rocks in landscaped gardens . Dissertation, Zurich 2015, ISBN 978-3-00-053146-0 .
  • Mario Praxmarer, Peter Adam: King Ludwig II in the mountain solitude of Bavaria & Tyrol. Mountain residences, castles, encounters, crisis, mysterious death. Adam, Garmisch-Partenkirchen 2002, ISBN 3-924308-35-7 .
  • Jean Louis Schlim: Ludwig II. Dream and Technology. Buchendorfer Verlag, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-934036-52-X (2nd, modified and supplemented edition. München-Verlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-937090-43-6 ).
  • Marcus Spangenberg: Linderhof. Buildings and dreams in the mountains , Verlag Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg 2018, ISBN 978-3791728049 .

Individual evidence

  1. Siemens AG : Press photos: Milestones in electrical engineering in Bavaria up to 1924 (PDF)
  2. Current information from Linderhof. Restoration of the Venus grotto in the palace gardens.

Web links

Commons : Grotto of Venus  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 47 ° 34 ′ 25.3 "  N , 10 ° 57 ′ 41.8"  E