Neuschwanstein Castle

Hohenschwangau, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle is a nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner. Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, rather than Bavarian public funds. The castle was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886. The Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most visited castles in Germany and one of the most popular tourist destination in Europe. The palace has appeared prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland"s Sleeping Beauty Castle and later, similar structures.

In the Middle Ages, three castles overlooked the village. One was called Schwanstein Castle. In 1832, Ludwig"s father King Maximilian II of Bavaria bought its ruins to replace them with the comfortable neo-Gothic palace known as Hohenschwangau Castle. Finished in 1837, the palace became his family"s summer residence, and his elder son Ludwig (born 1845) spent a large part of his childhood here.

The inspiration for the construction of Neuschwanstein came to Ludwig from two journeys in 1867 — one in May to the reconstructed Wartburg near Eisenach, another in July to the Château de Pierrefonds, which Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was transforming from a ruined castle into a historistic palace. The king saw both buildings as representatives of a romantic interpretation of the Middle Ages as well as the musical mythology of his friend Richard Wagner. Wagner"s operas Tannhäuser and Lohengrin had made a lasting impression on him.

In 1868, the ruins of the medieval twin castles were completely demolished; the remains of the old keep were blown up. The foundation stone for the palace was laid on September 5, 1869; in 1872 its cellar was completed and in 1876, everything up to the first floor, the gatehouse being finished first. At the end of 1882 it was completed and fully furnished, allowing Ludwig to take provisional lodgings there and observe the ongoing construction work. The topping out ceremony for the castle was in 1880, and in 1884, the king was able to move into the new building.

However, at the time of Ludwig"s death in 1886 the Neuschwanstein was far from complete. He only slept 11 nights in the castle. The external structures of the Gatehouse and the Palas were mostly finished, but the Rectangular Tower was still scaffolded. Work on the Bower had not started, but was completed in simplified form by 1892, without the planned female saints figures.

Due to its secluded location, the palace survived the two World Wars without destruction. It served until 1944 as a depot for Nazi plunder from France. After the wars Neuschwanstein became a global symbol of the era of Romanticism. Today, with 1.3 million visitors per year Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.

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Details

Founded: 1868
Category: Castles and fortifications in Germany
Historical period: German Empire (Germany)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

David Maquera (19 months ago)
This is just as beautiful as you imagine it would be. The tour in German and in English is quite fast, but make sure to visit the balcony at the end that overlook the alps, it’s amazing. There are plenty of areas to hike, so take time to marvel at the beautiful sites this area has to offer.
cristina crocicchia (19 months ago)
It's like walking around a fairy tale. So beautiful. The landscape is breathtaking. You can walk all around the castle. Didn't go in because there was way too many people so I don't know the price, but just visiting it was worth it. It was Autumn and I enjoyed it a lot. Must visit
Hansei Kai (19 months ago)
Nice place to hiking. The tour is so fast and very crowded so better be in the front to hear the guides. Interesting place though and the view from the Castle to the Valley is excellent. You must go out the Castle to the bridge there you can get nice pictures
Leigh Ann T (20 months ago)
Out of all our journey through Germany this was a best memory. Be ready for a day of hiking. If you can make it, it is worth it. The horse and carriage wait was very long. The car ride wasn't running in December because there was s freeze. We booked through Radius tours and skipped the line. Also recommended. Our guides knowledge was incredible. Her family is from Bavaria for over 600 years. Please go here. Also souvenirs were worth it. We were told it's good to think of as not a castle but a peek into King Ludwig's life. Great description.
Smiling in the Sun (20 months ago)
Well organized and very beautiful experience. A brisk hike up the hill allows a feeling of accomplishment that invites you into the castle. Alternately, the horse & carriage rides are a treat. As the inspiration to Disney's castle, the views are stunning, it is well maintained, and the stories are interesting. The castle tour that shared tidbits of information was very smooth, offering just enough information for a family traveling with 2 small children. I would have loved to hear more, but it was presented very well.
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