Walhalla, the German Parthenon, is located in a majestic position above the Danube, close to Regensburg. This neoclassical building in the shape of a temple represents one of the most important and beautiful German monuments of the XIX century.
Perhaps you have already heard this name, because Walhalla, would be the “paradise” according to Norse mythology, where it would be the fate of the heroic dead. There, the noblest and most fearless warriors, who died on the battlefield, chosen by Odin (the god in the highest rank of this mythology) enjoyed eternal life.
Inspired by this concept, the building was built at the request of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, with a personal desire to eternalize a place of remembrance for Germanic men and women of extraordinary merits, as inspiration and reference point for the future nation. The historian Johannes von Müller was responsible for the initial selection of personalities to be honored.
Walhalla started to be built in 1830, under the vision of Ludwig I’s favorite architect, Leo von Klenze (1784-1864), one of the most important neoclassical architects of the 19th century. Klenze’s design was mainly inspired by the famous Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, dating from 5 BC. Originally, Ludwig I’s goal was to house the ‘Hall of Expectation’, which would house the busts of people to be honored in the future, where they would inspire, bringing pride to the Germanic people.
Originally 96 busts were selected, arranged along the walls inside the building, honoring writers, clergy, scientists, warriors, and other men and women, chosen by Ludwig I and his advisers. Among the original busts, we can highlight that of Luther, Beethoven, and Mozart.
However, since 1962, new busts have been added at intervals of five to seven years, and today we find 130 busts and 65 plaques (the plaques were made for people whose portraits or descriptions were not available to model the sculptures) brighten up the interior. Albert Einstein was one of this new wave of honorees, as well as Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, responsible for the discovery of the X-ray. The choice of the personalities to be honored was in charge of the Bavarian Council of Ministers, advised by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. Since 2016, Walhalla has been administered by the Administration of the Bavarian Palace.
Above the busts, there is the frieze painted by the artist Martin von Wagner, which represents the idealized history of the Germanic people from the first immigrants to Christianization in the early Middle Ages.