Replica of 1802 Carousel in
Ludwigsburg, Germany

If you have a penchant for carousels, this is a great example of an early amusement. Housed year round in the pavilion pictured at right, this carousel is part of the small replicated antique amusement park on the extensive grounds of Ludwigsburg, Germany's main Schloß. Although Schloß (pronounced "shlaus") means "castle," this one is more of a palace and was once home to the kings of Württemberg.

The historical playground (as it's called in German, Historischer Spielplatz) was originally built in 1802 by Duke Friedrich II, who later became the first king of Württemberg. It was designed by the Duke's court architect, Nikolaus von Thouret.

Its existence was short-lived. By 1863, the original rides were already being gradually dismantled. Fortunately, the plans for the machinery survived the various wars and turmoils of the region, providing the details necessary to create exact reproductions. The four replicated rides, built between 1997 and 1999, now constitute a small amusement park – unique in all of Europe – where visitors can enjoy recreation fit for a king.

The carousel is the most elaborate and biggest of the four amusements. It has four full-sized wooden horses and two one-person carriages, one with an exquisite mermaid and one led by a pair of magnificent golden deer. In the days of the king's court, the men would ride the horses and the ladies rode in the carriages. Today, these carriages are ideal for smaller children who may not be ready to sit in the saddle, aloft a full-sized horse.

In a bizarre twist of today's convention, where people ride in cars driven by horsepower, the horses of the original carousel were driven by "humanpower," a group of prisoners in a basement just below the carousel. But don't worry, today's reconstructed carousel has a proper motor!

The carousel runs daily from 11:00 in the morning till 4:00 in the afternoon and costs €1. From mid-March through early November, there is an entrance fee for the park itself, but there is lots to do and the fee covers all but the carousel and miniature train. For more on what there is for children, click here and read about the Ludwigsburg Schloßpark.

The park's own web site has an aerial photo of the main entrance to the castle, which can give you a sense of the size of this park. There is also a great satellite photo of the entire grounds on a related web site. The historical playground is on the section jutting way out to the right. You can see the carousel by the pond, which is the small gray circle (the carousel) above the green oval (the pond) with a dot (the fountain) in the middle. (Please note: both of these web sites are in German.)

There are several entrances to the park, but without a pass, you'll need to buy a ticket. I personally think getting the complete ticket (two castles and the park) is a waste because it's too exhausting to see it all. My first trip to the castle below, I was too wiped out to bother with the gardens, which had been the intended visit for the day. The photo below shows only a portion of the building.

The main gate is the most dramatic way to enter the grounds, facing the palace and walking down the long promenade with flowers, fountains, huge lawns and rose gardens along the way. Click on the photo below for a much larger version and here for a second photo, taken closer to the palace.

To get to the historical carousel, walk toward the palace and turn right and walk through the break in the wall. It will look like you're going to leave the park, but once through, you'll see a second promenade to the left. Walk past the food and souvenir vendors and you'll find the entrance to the historical playground just beyond, through the gate on the right. There's also a map right there, in case you want to see what or where the various gardens, attractions and restaurants are.

Once on the other side of the gate, the walk becomes very pretty, with tall trees lining the path and special gardens and an outdoor aviary along the way. They're each worth visiting, though your children may be in a hurry to get to the carousel or the modern playground, fairy tale park (German web site), boat ride, miniature train ride or petting zoo.

In addition to the links above, which are mostly in German, there is an English site from a German magazine devoted to castles. While there's nothing specific about the historical playground, it has a great 360-degree panoramic photo from inside the courtyard of the palace in the photo above. The aerial photo shows the entire complex, but you don't quite get the sense of scale that you do with this panoramic shot. It's quite spectacular, letting you view it as though you're standing right there.

You have to scroll down the page a bit and the caption is in German. Essentially, it says you can zoom in and out using the Z and A keys on your keyboard and you can move the panorama by putting your mouse inside the photo and clicking on your mouse button. In fact, the photo should be rotating when you first see it. You can use the mouse to move it in the direction you want to look, speed it up or slow it down, or release the mouse button to stop it from spinning. (It can make you dizzy!)

One last note, if you should look at the pricing page on this site, most palace tours are in German. The English tours are listed separately.

Click on any photo to see an enlargement

Historical carousel pavilion

Carousel Pavilion


A walk around the carousel…

Gold deer chaise

Mermaid and horse

Mermaid, frontal view

Mermaid chaise, rear view

Two horses

Horse and deer


Historical ferris wheel

  Historical swinging seats
  Replica of Antique
Ferris Wheel
  Replica of Antique
Swinging Chair

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All photos and text by Joanne Moss Kuckuk.
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