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

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Corey Norman (4 months ago)
It's definitely a tourist destination. While the location itself is beautiful, be prepared to deal with a crowd, especially on the bridge that looks out towards the castle. The castle itself was undergoing construction, so that took a bit of the charm away. And parking itself leaves much to be desired. We had to park half a mile away from the parking lot along the side of the road. I would recommend going with a tour group than try to navigate parking.
Kenneth Murphy (4 months ago)
Great enjoyment for everyone. Architecture, history, views, so much for the entire family to see. Spent the day walking around the castle and the area. A very unique experience. Take your time walking the paths and experience this beautiful castle from its many angles. The strolls through the "back" areas are well worth the walk.
Megan Mabey (6 months ago)
If you visit Germany, this is a MUST place to go. We hiked up to the castle. It wasn’t a hard hike at all. It was very beautiful with awesome views. I am a huge Disney fan so I was very excited to see this castle in person since Walt Disney designed the Disneyland castle after this castle. We did the tour inside which was so cool and interesting. I highly recommend visiting!
Jason R (9 months ago)
****MUST READ**** Bavaria is home to dozens of royal castles, but the most famous were built for King Ludwig II, the "Mad King" or "Swan King" who died in 1886. The castle is absolutely stunning inside and out. The tour was brisk but enjoyable. Photographs are NOT allowed inside the castle. Which is unfortunate for the interior walls and ceilings are covered with depictions of heroes and maidens, battles, and saintly holy men. Clearly, Leopold II left no detail to chance and spared no expense in realizing his dream castle. If at all possible, reserve your tickets in advance. The lines at the ticket office can be long. The castle tour is amazing! It is a monument to extravagance in the most beautiful setting. Reminders/Things to Know Before You Go: • Ticket lines can be long in peak season—plan ahead and book a skip-the-line tour to avoid the hassle. • Wear suitable walking shoes if you opt to walk up to the castle—the road is uphill and uneven in places. • The castle is wheelchair-accessible with buses and carriages that can bring visitors up the hill to the entrance; inside, you'll also find elevators. • Plan to spend about 2-3 hours at the castle, excluding wait times.
Lewis Brooks (16 months ago)
The castle was certainly a remarkable construction that leaves a lasting impression. More memorable was the sad ending to the life of the man who built it. Coincidentally, in our tour group, there were two Japanese professional soccer players who were off season at the time and touring Germany just like I was.
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