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Neuschwanstein Castle Germany

 
              About the Castle   About King Ludwig II    

 

 

 

  

Best Places to Visit on the Romantic Road Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle

 Neuschwanstein Castle as seen from the Marien Bruecke

Neuschwanstein Castle was Ludwig II’s vision of a medieval castle, although it is clear that he and his architects had a romantic view of the past.  The design of Neuschwanstein, including its interior rooms and their decorative styles, was influenced by the operas of the composer Richard Wagner, who was admired by Ludwig and had visited him at Schloss Hohenschwangau.

Ludwig adopted a swan as his royal seal and the castle’s name Schloss Neuschwanstein translates roughly to “new swan stone castle”.  The swan and the Knight of the Swan were a central focus in many medieval stories and later encapsulated in Wagner’s Opera Lohengrin.

 

An interior courtyard at Neuschwanstein CastleLudwig II was captivated by the fantasy world of Wagner’s operas and by romantic tales from medieval times.  It is clear from visiting Neuschwanstein and his family home at Schloss Hohenschwangau that Ludwig chose not to live in the world of his contemporaries, but in a fantasy world that he believed a better place.

The construction of Schloss Neuschwanstein started in 1868 on a site occupied by the ruins of two castles that were removed to make room for the new edifice.  The development of the Castle's interior and exterior remained incomplete at the time of Ludwig II’s mysterious death in 1886.  Ludwig stayed in the Gateway Building (completed in 1873) when he visited the construction site.  Of course, his summer home was just across the valley in Schloss Hohenschwangau, from which he had a telescope that he used to keep an eye on the construction of Neuschwanstein.

Ludwig lived in the castle for the five months preceding his death, although the Castle still had not been completed.  After his death, the State of Bavaria finished only the work that was necessary to open the site to the public a few months after his demise.

 

                     Neuschwanstein in all its glory as seen from the Marien Bruecke

Neuschwanstein is a glorious sight.  Its spires reach for the sun and its whimsical features are balanced and attractive.  In addition, the castle benefits from its location above Pollat Gorge and the views of the surrounding countryside from atop the castle are extraordinarily beautiful. Ludwig may have been an unusual monarch, but he certainly knew the value of location.

Speaking of Ludwig, he constructed Neuschwanstein as his personal residence.  He was a confirmed bachelor and did not intend others (except servants) to live with him at the castle. In effect, he decided to build a fantasy castle for himself, to be constructed just as he imagined one should look – because he wanted one!  Perhaps it is this self-focus that made the castle into the successful icon it has become today. Neuschwanstein Castle is a very popular place with tourists, although many of its detractors say, “It isn’t a real castle”.  Although it is not a historically important castle, it is a monumental edifice that attracts over a million visitors a year.  If you are planning a trip to Bavaria, Neuschwanstein should be on your list of places to visit.

One of the Castle's towers as from Neuschwanstein Strasse    The Castle;s visitors arriving for their tour



Once you reach the castle, you will need to cue up for your tour.  There will queues for the next three tour-times, but there is no advantage to being first in line.  Just be sure you are in the queue when that group is admitted.   Live tours are offered in German and English and other languages are available by audio guide tours.  The tour lasts approximately 30 minutes, during which you will see a sampling (fifteen) of the finished rooms of the castle.  At the time of Ludwig's death, only one-third of the Castles rooms had been finished. 

There is a lot of stair climbing and descending required during the tour.  Visitors who cannot climb stairs (those needing wheel chairs or walkers) are accommodated only on Wednesdays that do not fall on national holidays in Germany and these tours must be booked in advance. See this official site for more information on special needs visits.

The interior rooms available for touring are a dazzling expose of dramatic design, lavish paintings from operas and other celebrations of romance literature from medieval times.  Many of the murals represent scenes from Wagner's operas, while others feature scenes from epic poems.  Each room seems to contain some outstanding feature lacking in the others and all feature unique decorations, delightful ornaments and views of life quite unlike our own.  By the end of the tour, you will have seen decorative schemes that include just about every color imaginable, sometimes in unimaginable combinations.

The Castle eventually peeks above the trees as you ascend its hill

The Throne Hall (the throne itself was never built due to Ludwig's death) combines the religious decorations of a Byzantine-style cathedral, replete with gilded walls, with the majesty required to honor the King of Bavaria.  The gilded half-dome behind where the throne would have been, includes a stunning representation of Christ  with Mary at his side above several famous kings.  Look around and you will see the 12 Apostles (in groups of six) and additional scenes with the kings who were featured in the dome mural shown in acts of heroism in frescoes scattered around the room.  A massive, one-ton gilded, brass chandelier, which is  shaped like a crown, dominates the room.  The amazing mosaic tile work on the floor, comprised of a million and half pieces of tile, shows a color full array of animals including elephants, deer, lions, gazelles, boars, peacocks , jackals and other too numerous to name.  The room's many columns are brightly colored and add to the impressive nature of the hall.

Ludwig's bedroom (with private chapel) and living room feature numerous, beautiful frescos, unique carved woodwork, delightful inlays and more unique decorations.  The room features a secret door that blends in with the wall decoration and leads to his private toilet. Neuschwanstein's source of water was 200 feet above the Castle and each floor of the building had running water available. 

In the midst of all of this opulence, you will, unexpectedly, find yourself passing through a room that was constructed and decorated to look like the inside of a cave.  The look is very persuasive and reminds one of the whimsies seen in other unusual palaces.

The tour ends at the Singer’s Hall (Sangersaal), a theater that had not been used at the time of Ludwig’s death.  The room is a glorious assemblage of  natural woods (especially the intricate ceiling), art, statues, chandeliers and colors that blend to provide an impressive theater.  If you have a few second, look up at  statues and other decorative works adorning the room’s columns - there is no end to the details of the installations used to decorate this extravagant structure.

 

One comment we have heard from many travelers is that the tour of Neuschwanstein is "uninspired" and we agree.  The tour of the castle feels rushed and the guides, who must have given their "speech" a million times, seem in a rush to complete the tour in the allotted time.  However, if you want to see the Castle's interior, the tour is your only choice.

Neuschwanstein Castle is illuminated at night.

At the end of the tour, you can wander to the canteen for a snack or into the store to purchase a memento.  If you did not take the opportunity to examine the view from the Marienbruecke, turn left when you leave the castle and head uphill for this beautiful view.    In addition, if you take this path, you can catch the bus back to town or take a hiking trail back to Hohenschwangau.  The downhill hike is scenic and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

King Ludwig II

Ludwig II, King of Bavaria
Ludwig II (1845 – 1886) was King of Bavaria from 1864 until being deposed before his mysterious death in 1886.  Born in the Nympenburg Palace in Munich, Ludwig was raised there, in the Residenz in Munich and in Schloss Hohenschwangau, which was his family's summer home. By all accounts, he was shy and  introverted as a young man.  Ludwig ascended to the throne at the age of 18 and was a reluctant king.  History indicates that he was  uninterested in the details of government and  felt uncomfortable participating in large gatherings.

He is known for championing the works of the composer Richard Wagner and for his penchant for building castles that evoked the glories of the past. Although Ludwig financed these new castles from his personal fortune, he had borrowed enormous sums to support their planning and construction. Eventually his lackadaisical approach to participating in his own reign and plans to build additional castles resulted in his ministers seeking to remove him as king.

King Ludwig was deposed because of a declaration indicating that he was mentally unstable, although it appears that the document was issued by physicians who had never met him. A few days later, the deposed king and one of the doctors who had signed the declaration of insanity, were found dead along the shores of Lake Starnberg, which is just to the southwest of Munich. Shortly after his death, Ludwig’s unfinished but beloved Neuschwanstein was opened to the public.

Next - Visit Neighboring Hohenschwangau Castle (Ludwig's lifelong summer home).

Or - Visit Other Towns Along the Romantic Road

Or - Check out the Best Places to Visit in Germany


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Public toilets in Hohenschwangau are located near the parking lot in the building housing the Hohenschwangau Information Center.

You will need 50 Euro cents in coin to enter the gated turnstile. There  is a bill changing machine on the wall near the entrance to the facility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Romantic Road

Augsburg
Dinkelsbuhl
Neuschwanstein Castle
Ottobeuren
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Wurzburg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romantic Road

Augsburg
Dinkelsbuhl
Neuschwanstein Castle
Ottobeuren
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Wurzburg

 
     
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