Neuschwanstein is a fairy-tale castle located in Füssen, southwest Bavaria. The castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, also known as “ The Mad King Ludwig,” whose ironic character has become an incredible part of the history of Germany and the castle.
The foundation stone was laid on the edge of a rugged cliff in 1869. This is where ruins of two older castles stood before. It rises over the Pöllat Gorge and is nestled in the Bavarian Alps – a landscape that partially adds to the fame of Neuschwanstein. The construction was completed in 1892.
Unlike most of the castles in the world, Neuschwanstein was built on a high unreachable rock not for defense, but romantic purposes. Ludwig II was called the fairy-tale prince for a reason; he was known for his habits of daydreaming and escaping reality, and this castle was supposed to be the highest manifestation of his ideals, a place where he could enjoy the reality of Richard Wagner’s operas, inspired by the old German legend about the swan knight Lohengrin. It is believed that the king actually identified himself with Lohengrin and wanted to reign in his castle. Unfortunately, he never saw the completed project. The King lost his power to the Prussians, was declared insane, and then dead in 1886. He had visited the castle a few times, when only 14 rooms were completed.
Although initially built in 13th-century Romanesque style, the building is a mix of different influences. The facade is covered in limestone, while the walls are built out of brick. The interior is decorated in the most luxurious and lavish ways. The windows, embroidered pillows and other objects bear the images of lions, lilies, and, most importantly, swans. The throne room was designed in the Byzantine architectural style. The inner walls are covered with murals depicting scenes from Wagner’s operas, like Lohengrin. The decorations have been carefully planned to include extensive symbolism, i.e. a swan image can be found in every room.
The castle interior includes two outstanding halls: the Singers’ Hall, decorated with typical medieval elements of a banqueting hall, and the two-story throne room, the height of which is 15 meters. The sleeping quarters of the king are heavily influenced by Gothic architecture.
Despite the fairytale-like atmosphere, the castle was equipped with the latest technology of the time. It had running water, flushing toilets, forced-air central heating system, an elevator and even a telephone.
Eventually, the beauty of the castle inspired Walt Disney to create the Sleeping Beauty Castle. Moreover, Neuschwanstein is the most photographed building in Germany and one of the most famous attractions in Europe today.
You can only see the rooms in the castle on guided tours.
Reserve a full day for traveling to and from the castle, the guided tour, and a real fairytale experience.
By horse-drawn carriage: Starting point is Hotel Müller, Alpseestraße in Hohenschwangau.
Public transport: Take the two-hour train to Füssen, then the bus RVA/OVG 73 in the direction to Steingaden / Garmisch-Partenkirchen or the bus
Shuttle buses are offered from Hohenschwangau