The Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria Germany is one of the most famous castles in the world and an incredible architectural structure that would make any princess swoon with envy.
The Neuschwanstein Castle was built in 1869 by Ludwig II of Bavaria, or as he was more commonly known, Mad King Ludwig. Ludwig wanted to create a castle with incredible drama and stage presence, so he hired a stage designer for help bringing his artistic dreams to reality.
This summer castle probably greatly contributed to the moniker of Mad King Ludwig, as in this era the building of incredibly grand castles was a bit out of style but Ludwig worked to have the castle be one of the most prominent structures around, inside and out. A lifetime fan of the composer Richard Wagner, many scenes from Wagner’s operas are painted as murals on the walls of the castle and even the name of the castle came from one of Wagner’s operas, although in German the name means New Swan Stone Palace. But an interesting side note, during King Ludwig’s lifetime the casted was referred to as New Hohenschwangau Castle.
Although the castle appears very old it actually isn’t as Germany in the 1860s had many modern conveniences such as running hot and cold water, flush toilets and heating, which the castle has. Although these conveniences existed at the time they were still considered cutting edge and the idea of putting them in a castle of this size was considered a bit nutty. The castle is full of steam engines, electricity, modern venting, a modern water system with an aqueduct and heating pipes.
The greatest shame of Neuschwanstein Castle is that Ludwig did not live to see the castle’s completion. In 1886 King Ludwig was declared insane by a State Commission under Dr. von Gudden and arrested at the palace. A very distraught Mad King Ludwig was taken to Castle Berg where he was found drowned in a nearby lake. Only King Ludwig was not the only body discovered in Lake Starnberg that day, von Gudden was also lying dead in the water. There is a lot of speculation surrounding his death and its cause whether it was suicide, murder or simply an accident, although an accident seems highly unlikely.
But one good thing about Ludwig II of Bavaria’s death is that the castle was converted from a private dwelling to a structure that was open to the public. Today more than a million tourists visit the castle each year, meaning that thousands of people flock through its doors (and impressive doors they are) each day.
Even if you haven’t been to the castle, Neuschwanstein Castle still probably looks a little more than vaguely familiar as it has not only been the inspiration for several facsimiles, including the Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Cinderella Castle, but it’s also been in many Hollywood movies.
The castle features a gatehouse, a tower, the knight’s house with its own square tower, a citadel, and two additional towers on the west end.
The Throne Room of the Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps rests within the Palas or the citadel and was created as the Grail-Hall of Parsifal and decorated in an unbelievably elaborate Byzantine style. With two stores and a series of pillars serving as imitation porphyry and lapis lazuli the room is officially listed as being completed in 1886, but the Throne Room actually remains unfinished as no throne resides in this stunning room.
The bedroom (the main one) at Neuschwanstein Castle carved in a Neo-Gothic style with what was reported as 14 woodcarvers working for four and a half years to create the elaborate carvings throughout the room. The highlight, the Monarch’s bed is topped by some of the most intricate woodcarvings in the entire castle and draped with richly embroidered draperies.
The Palas also features the singer’s hall, which encompasses the entire fourth floor and the grotto. Other rooms in the castle include an oratory, a room designed to look like a cavern, a kitchen with heated cupboards and servant’s quarters.
The rooms that are completed in the castle are absolutely breathtaking but there are actually on 14 rooms that were finished before Ludwig’s death and much for the further building and decorating was halted upon his death. There are rumors that construction needed to end and tourists had to be allowed to enter as there was so much debt accumulated by the estate. No real figures or even estimates could be found on what the cost of Neuschwanstein Castle was or the debt left after Ludwig’s death.
Tickets for the castle have to be purchased at the ticket center in Hohenschwangau so make sure you get them before you begin the climb up to the castle, if you decide to go on foot. The cost is EUR9 which converts to about $11.50 USD. While the mandatory portion of the tour takes only a half hour there is a bit of walking involved and several stairs. If you have a handicap or special needs tours held on Wednesdays are designed specifically to accommodate your needs.
If you’re sold on taking a trip to see the magnificent Neuschwanstein Castle there are several different tour options available. Take one of the tours that offer additional side trips to view the beautiful countryside rather than simply heading directly up the street to the castle. Or rent a bicycle and explore the grounds by yourself at your leisure, you can even stop for a swim at the nearby lake.
Photo credit: jiuguangw