Neuschwanstein Castle (“New Swan Castle”) is one of the most beautiful and famous castles in Germany. It is also the most visited castle in Europe. Our guide, Stacey began her tour by intriguing us with the creator of the castle. His name was King Ludwig II of Bavaria, also known as the “Fairytale King”. Ludwig (as I will call him) was a character shrouded with mystery. He once told his governors,
“I want to remain an eternal mystery to myself and others”
and it is this mysterious element that fascinated me (leading me to research more about him even after the tour).
Ludwig was crowned king at the age of 18 years old when his father Maximilian II suddenly passed away. Throughout his childhood Ludwig remained very sheltered and protected. His parents Maximilian II and Marie of Prussia were almost non-existent attending to royal duties in and out of Munich. Ludwig spent a lot of time alone which festered his day dreaming. Ludwig being a growing boy searched for a role model and found one in Richard Wagner, a world – renowned composer.
It was predicted from the start that Ludwig would not make a very good king, however he prevailed wanting very much to give the throne to his only brother Otto. However the unfortunate struck, Otto was declared mentally unfit to rule and Ludwig had to continue his reign. After some time, Ludwig found his refuge in places of solitude. He retreated from the public and stayed in Hohenschwangau Castle most of the time.
He turned to day dreaming once again, but this time with the royal treasury at hand, Ludwig was able to turn his dreams into reality. In 1869, the foundations of Neuschwanstein Castle were laid. 18 years later in 1887, after the mysterious death of Ludwig in 1886, the castle was completed. Although Ludwig wanted the castle as a refuge and requested that the castle be torn down when he dies, the government decided to open the castle to the public due to the enormous debt he had piled up from his extravagant building plans.
The famous German castle overlooks the picturesque Hohenschwangau valley and is located only a short distance from the popular tourist town, Fussen. It was built in Richard Wagner’s honour and many rooms in the castle’s interior were inspired by Wagner’s poetic characters. The castle was designed by a theatre set designer instead of an architect making it look like a scene from a theatre instead of real life. Indeed, this castle has appeared in a few movies but more notably, it bore inspiration for castles you see in Disney Land. The famous 20th century icon, Walt Disney saw, replicated and created his own in USA.
Staggering figures associate with this romantic sight; since the time it was opened, over 50 million people have visited the Neuschwanstein Castle. About 1.3 million people visit annually, with up to 6,000 per day in the summer. It has been told that the foundations holding this castle are starting to wear down due to the immense numbers frolicking it… nonetheless, if it crumbles (perhaps not in my lifetime) – here are pictures to tell.