Versailles on Wheels, two glorious Wagons of King Ludwig ll

While in Nürnberg we spent time exploring the DB Train Museum on Lessingstrasse. As an exhibit where two magnificent, original train wagons of the King of Bavaria, Ludwig II (1860’s).

Nürnberg Transport Museum (DB Museum) by Wikimedia
Nürnberg Transport Museum or DB Museum by Wikimedia

Ludwig took over the train from his father Maximilian II in 1864. He not only wanted the train to be technically modern, but also culturally and feudal. Over the next six years, after inheriting the train from his father, he converted and expanded the wagons and into a magnificent train.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria Royal train

In addition to the personal train wagons for the king, there were two wagons for the commissioner and his entourage, a servant wagon, a van and two kitchen wagons. Only drawings and photos still exist. The two most beautiful however, the salon and the open patio wagon, have been preserved in its original.

Below is a similar Locomotive Royal Train:

“Versailles on Wheels”

Ludwig Franz von Seitz, a painter and professor at the Munich Art Academy and artistic director of the Hofbühne was responsible for the renovation. In the style of the time, the artist oriented himself at the Palace of Versailles, which is the palace of France’s monarch Louis XIV. The train was given the color blue as a symbol of nobility and wealth.

Versailles on Wheels, King Ludwig Train

Golden decorations with angel figures adorn the sides and on the roof of the saloon wagon, the stately crown was emblazoned. The vernacular gives the Ludwigszug a new name: “Versailles on Wheels”

Versailles on Wheels, King Ludwig Train

The Saloon Wagon

The saloon wagon has four compartments. The adjutant room, is the smallest, where personal servants would stay. Next to the main salon is the bedroom cabinet and a toilet built in a cabinet. The main salon is the most magnificent room of the saloon wagon. The walls and furniture are richly gilded and covered with fine atlas silk. In the middle of the ceiling painting is the lighting, which represents the “sun”. This emblem and the lilies in the floral ornaments refer to the “Sun King” Louis XIV of France. The display is complemented by four corner paintings, that represent allegories of four seasons.

When Ludwig II was traveling by train, it’s proven that he undertook his famous journey to Franconia in 1866. At that time however, the saloon car was still in its old condition. In later years, Ludwig traveled incognito several times. Since his Royal train was too conspicuous for this, he initially used simple wagons that “served the general traffic”.

The Terrace Wagon

Terrassenwagen of Ludwig II per Wikimedia
Terrassenwagen of Ludwig II per Wikimedia

After the end of the monarchy, the saloon and Terrace wagon was brought to the Nuremberg Transport Museum (DB Museum). The Royal train or Ludwigswagen was damaged at the bombing in the Second World War. After the end of the war looters stole, among other things, all floor and wall coverings, the marble slabs of the tables, and the corner paintings on the ceiling of the saloon car.

After Ludwig’s death in 1886 the Royal train was still in operation until 1918. While still in use, all cars were modernized in 1891 and 1893. During this time, the saloon car received a modern wheel suspensions, a so-called bogies for tighter curves. In addition, a modern brake was installed.

Until the reopening of the Transport Museum in 1953, the paintings were re-done, decorations repaired and gilded again. Mirrors, marble slabs and putti were added, and all floor and fabric covers were renewed.

Call for Shareholders’ meeting of the Ludwigstrain-Stockholders in 1838

Aufruf zur Aktionärsversammlung der Ludwigs-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft 1838 per Wikimedia
Aufruf zur Aktionärsversammlung der Ludwigs-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft 1838 (per Wikimedia)

A visit to the DB Museum in Nürnberg:

The first volume of “Stories from the DB Museum” describes the history of the two wagons from the Royal court train of Ludwig II. Both cars can be seen in the DB Museum in Nuremberg.

DB Museum Nürnberg
Mo. bis Fr., 9 bis 13 Uhr (ausgenommen an Feiertagen)
Lessingstraße 6
D-90443 Nürnberg

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