Shikin Hamid visits the ethereal Neuschwanstein Castle, built by an eccentric King.
If you are expecting an ancient castle, raise your expectations as the charm and elegance will sweep you off your feet.
If you need any ideas on how to spend your extra cash, why not build a castle? That’s what King Ludwig II did, that landed him penniless and in debt.
In Buzzfeed’s list of 18 German Castles That Put Disney to Shame, I am lucky to have personally been to one castle on that list – Neuschewanstein Castle.
Also known as New Swanstone Castle, it has been the inspiration behind Disney’s modern fairytale castles like Cinderella. My trip to Neuschwanstein Castle was an accidental one, only to find out how amazing it is!
Neuschewanstein Castle is situated near Schwangau and Fussen, which is about 2-hour train ride from Munich Central Station.
The path to the castle starts in the village of Hohenschwangau where you can hike or alternatively take a bus up to the castle. If you are expecting an ancient castle, raise your expectations as the charm and elegance will sweep you off your feet. The man behind the design and intricacies of the castle is King Ludwig II.
Described as a shy dreamer, Ludwig created the ideal fantasy world which he built to escape from reality.
The Eccentric King Ludwig II
Ludwig enjoyed dressing up, play acting and making presents of his property and possessions. In 1864, Ludwig II acceded to the throne at the age of 18. Described as a shy dreamer, Ludwig created the ideal fantasy world which he built to escape from reality.
Besides the Swanstone castle, other properties under his belt are Linderhof Palace, The King’s House on the Schachen and Herrenchiemsee Palace.
As a child, Ludwig was inspired by the murals of his father’s castle (Hohenschwangau Castle) that featured knights of Bavaria. Ludwig II idolised the idea of swan knight Lohengrin and knights of Schwangau.
The knights’ heraldic animal, the swan, is featured as a leitmotif in his castles.
King Ludwig II commissioned the castle as a retreat. Paying for the construction of the castle out of this fortune and extensive borrowing, what you see today of the castle is beautiful however incomplete. Ludwig’s death came sudden and still a mystery till today.
Neuschwanstein Castle attracts a record numbers of visitors of 1.4 million visitors a year.
With his death the construction of the castle also came to a stop. To pay off the debts incurred by Ludwig, the castle was then open to the public as to repay the debts. Ever since, Neuschwanstein Castle attracts a record numbers of visitors of 1.4 million visitors a year.
They say don’t judge a book by its cover. The interior of The Swanstone Castle does not disappoint. Had it been completed, the palace would boost more than 200 interior rooms for all occasions and guests.
However, no more than 15 rooms and halls were finished. Some of the completed rooms were
– Hall of Singers, Throne Hall, Drawing Room, Study Room, Dining Room and Bedroom.
I was lucky that I could see the intricate details of the rooms, but let me give you a sneak peek of the must-see spaces in the Neuschwanstein Castle. I highlighted them based on aesthetic but also the cutting-edge technology that was thought out by King Ludwig II.
Highlights of Neuschwanstein Castle
Ludwig could listen to music coming from the Singers Hall above as he unwinds.
One would uncommonly find a royal apartment with a grotto. A grotto is a natural or artificial cave historically used as garden features or serving religious purposes. In Neuschewanstein, next to the drawing room is a little artificial grotto that leads you to the study. Decorated with a waterfall and coloured lighting to highlight the romantic atmosphere. From the grotto, Ludwig could listen to music coming from the Singers Hall above as he unwinds. Simply put, it is a bachelor pad one can only dream of!
It was said that fourteen carvers worked more than four years on the bed canopy.
The King’s bedroom is dominated by a huge bed adorned with carvings. It was said that fourteen carvers worked more than four years on the bed canopy with its numerous pinnacles and on the oaken paneling.
The paintings on the walls are drawn from the story of Germanic folklore. The bedroom sets the artistic standards for the rest of the interior leaning towards the 19th Century Romanticist interpretation of the past. What King Ludwig II had imagined was a stretch of the ordinary imagination, one that is elegantly modern at that time.
Located on the ground-floor it boasts the modern technology at that time.
Just as you exit the souvenir store, you will enter the kitchen. Located on the ground-floor it boasts the modern technology at that time. Revolving spits automatically powered by the heat of the fire, cabinets to keep food warm as well as hot and cold running water.
King Ludwig’s chef is one who possess a creative mind to meet the exquisite taste. Since the kitchen is situated three stories below the dining room, a service lift available that connect the kitchen and the living room.
After the visit to the castle, don’t go off just yet…check out these other attractions!
Other attractions in Hohenschwangau
I was fortunate to be travelling in the summer where you can cool off that heat and take a dip in the Alpsee Lake. To say the least, it is beautifully therapeutic!
Swim in the clear waters and experience the royal castles from water side! Escape the bustling city life and get use to the breathtaking backdrop of the mountains and forests. Not so keen on dipping? You can hire a rowing boat or a pedal boat at the boat house nearby.
Built on a hill above lake Alpsee, this 19th-century palace was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II.
The Swanstone castle may have taken the spotlight from the lower castle of Hohenschwangau. Built on a hill above lake Alpsee, this 19th-century palace was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II.
Built by his father, King Maximilian II, it was the official summer and hunting residence for Maximilian and his wife Marie of Prussia. Even though it is not as boastful, it is definitely worthy to visit. Decorated with scenes from medieval legends, King Ludwig drew inspiration from this castle.
Marienbrucke (Queen Mary’s Bridge)
Marienbrucke, also known as the Queen Mary’s Bridge, is a bridge that spans across the deep Pollat Gorge that gives you a bird’s eye view the Swanstone Castle. Take a mini hike from The Swanstone Castle up to the Marienbrucke and you will be rewarded with some burnt calories and an alternative view of the castle. For those are afraid of heights, this is the time to conquer your fear!
I learnt to seize the moment while travelling, not knowing if I will ever come back again.
Depending on your preference, you may take half a day to a full day in the Bavarian town. I learnt to seize the moment while travelling, not knowing if I will ever come back again.
If you’re tempted to go, take time to romanticize the flowers, have a picnic after your swim in Aplsee Lake and treat yourself to a cone of ice cream … Safe travels!