Neuschwanstein Castle Bavaria, Germany
New-swan-steen or Neuschwanstein Castle was one of those last minute detours. I knew of the castle, yet had no idea where in Europe it was. Only a day prior to entering Germany did we think to look up castles and to our surprise, found Neuschwanstein was on the way to our destination of Munich. I love the places which can be found when one has no rigid plans and is flexible.
On our way to Munich we took the detour down some extremely narrow roads toward the famous castle. Driving through green meadows I had little opportunity to admire the views as I watched the oncoming traffic skim passed us while I hugged the edge of the road, narrowly avoiding those little wooden stakes with the reflectors on them. This was by far the most stressful 20 min drive of my life, exceeding even that of Paris. Thankfully, when we returned to normal sized roads we were met by high mountains and the small town of Fussen in the region of Bavaria, home to Neuschwanstein Castle.
Neuschwanstein Castle is Germany’s and arguably the world’s most famous castle, the stereotypical castle and one which Walt Disney used to design the trademark Disney Castle. Exploring the town of Fussen and its colourful old buildings, we stopped for lunch and looked in the various art and antique shops. The old building throughout much of Europe are what I find most fascinating and are something our young country of Australia lacks.
Once we had wandered through the old town we made our way up the hill on which both Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castle stand. King Ludwig II of Bavaria lived in both castles and inhabited the latter while Neuschwanstein was semi completed. Unfortunately the castle was only ever one third completed inside and he only lived in it for a little over 6 months before his suspicious death. It is said Ludwig II was possibly lured out of his castle one night with his psychiatrist and then the pair were found dead by Lake Starnberg. Being unmarried and leaving no heir the castle was opened to the public in 1886, only 6 weeks after his death. The castle was never completed.
Despite this, the exterior was largely completed although in simplified form and sits high on the hill with the mountains and Lake Alpsee sitting behind it. Water from this lake flows down a waterfall which used to pump water to the previous castle (built on the same site) back as far as the late 1700s. The huge castle with its many turrets, pales in comparison to the wilderness behind it and really takes you back to another time. It truly is the fairytale castle.
Inside the castle on our tour, we saw the completed rooms including the king’s bedroom with flushing toilet, the massive kitchen and a hall for dancing and music. Interestingly, in the hall is a large mural of a forest which has incredible likeness to early Disney backgrounds (like Snow White) which make us think Walt may have taken many inspirations from this place. Another notable feature of the castle was a working telephone which could make calls to the other castle and the town post office (Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone didn’t he? No comment.). The rooms which are completed are highly decorated and feature many murals, particularly ones featuring swans. Ludwig II’s favourite animal was the swan and Neuschwanstein actually translates to ‘New swan stone’. His other castle, Hohenschwangau translates to “high region of the swan”.
Once our tour ended, we headed down the mountain and admired the castle from the farms below. The Bavaria region is beautiful and the castles add to the fairytale feel of this magical place. From our visit here, it is safe to say my wife and I are now castle addicts and will be sure to look more up on our future adventures!
If you have a favourite castle you think we should visit, let me know below. I’m always keen to add more places to the bucket list.