Castle in the Sky

Now that it is June, schools are letting out and vacations are being planned all over the world. Thankfully, travel and borders are opening up too as vaccinations roll out worldwide. Reflecting back to one of my favorite vacation memories is our time in the Fussen valley touring the Neuschwanstein Castle.

I have been privileged to tour there twice. The first time we travelled with our German exchange student’s family was in June of 2001. The second time my husband and I travelled with a Lutheran Hour group in October of 2010.

The tale of the castle is nearly as fascinating as the castle itself. In 1864, Ludwig II imagined building something more beautiful and magnificent than the ruined Hohenschwangau Castle. He was so boastful in his plans that he said,

This castle will be in every way more beautiful and habitable than Hohenschwangau further down, which is desecrated every year by the prose of my mother; they will take revenge, the desecrated gods, and come to live with Us on the lofty heights, breathing the air of heaven.

Ludwig II 1864.

He expected it to be completed in three years and planned to move in upon its completion. He wanted it built in the authentic style of an old German knight’s castle with images of medieval stories displayed throughout.

Even in today’s world, building such a massive castle in three years would have been a fete. So of course, it was not meant to be.

Ludwig II 1865

Ludwig II 1865

1868 – First plans for the castle were drawn up

1869 – The foundation is laid.

1884 – Ludwig II stays in Neuschwanstein for the first time.

1886 – 

June 9 – Ludwig II certified insane

June 12 – Arrested at Neuschwanstein Castle

June 13 – Dies mysteriously

June 19 – Buried in Munich.

1892 – Final towers completed.

By time the castle was complete enough to inhabit, he had very little time in it. The finished castle was not completed until six years after his death. Within weeks of his death, the castle was already open to the public as a tourist attraction.

“New Hohenschwangau Castle” (it only acquired the name of “Neuschwanstein” after the death of the king). It was to be a better recreation of an ideal medieval castle than Hohenschwangau.

If you cannot make it to Germany right now, the next best thing may be a trip to Disneyland. Before Walt Disney began constructing his Californian theme park, he and his wife took a trip to Europe that included a stop at Neuschwanstein. Representatives of the park told The Orange County Register that Disney did have Ludwig II’s remarkable home in mind for Sleeping Beauty’s fairy tale palace. The Cinderella castle is now part of the Disney trademark logo.

As I mentioned before, I have been to the castle in the summer and fall. The early summer was green and lush, the fall leaves were turning during our October visit. My next wish is to see it with snow if I ever get a chance.  I have puzzles with that view that are breathtaking. However, I found that there is a live webcam of the castle that viewers can use to see Neuschwanstein any time they would like. Webcam Schloss Neuschwanstein – die Gemeinde Schwangau hat das Traumschloss vom König Ludwig II. von Bayern und nicht Füssen, wie alle glauben mögen!

With all the pictures of the castles, inside and out, I would be remiss not to tell you how beautiful the setting is for the castle as well. The bridge was built for Ludwig II and his hiking friends.

The mountains hug the castle on one side and look off into the valley on the other. Visitors are not to take pictures inside the castle, so I took this one looking out one of the windows during the tour.

Inside or out the trip is well worth it if you are planning any time in Bavaria, about a two hour drive from Munich. I’ll include the official link for tourist information here. They are open and are giving group tours again.Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung | Neuschwanstein Castle | Tourist information.

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