I drove from Munich to Schwengau through the beautiful German countryside.
Driving into Schwengau I caught glimpses of my true destination – Neuschwanstein. One of the inspirations to for Disney’s sleeping beauty castle. Built on the top of a rock, it was breathtaking. I pulled over a couple of times on the road in to admire its beauty as it came into view. The smell of cow manure made me feel right at home.
I stayed right at the foot of the other castle in town – Hohenschwangau.
The town reminds me of Venice in that it closes up at night as tourists mainly come for a day trip.
I arrived in the evening and hiked up to Marienbrucke (St. Mary’s Bridge). It’s steep on the way up the non-road path but worth it, especially if you’re looking to stretch your legs after a drive.
Holy cow… the view… It leaves you breathless… There’s a view of the castle with the village and the lake behind. I was a little nervous on the bridge as the wooden planks shift under one’s weight. There were few people up there at night so I got to enjoy my view mainly by myself.
A path connects the bridge with the castle. You come out right at the base so can see some of the exterior carvings up close.
There’s another viewpoint at the castle where you can see the town and the church. You can hear cowbells from down below.
On the way down I made a deer friend who followed me for a bit.
The next day I took the more direct road path up. The hotel said it would take me 45 minutes and I made it in 20! There is the option for taking a horse carriage or a bus (to the bridge and then you have to walk over) although I believe it is quite fun to make the hike.
- Ludwig II lived for 40 years. Construction on the castle began in 1869 and ended with his death in 1886. He liked Wagner and dedicated the castle to his works.
- In the throne hall there was a chandelier that literally weighed a ton with a beautiful starburst on the ceiling.
- The bedroom had a Tristan and Isolde theme. Ludwig’s favorite color was blue and this is reflected in the room. Right off the bedroom is an artificial drip cave with a winter garden attached.
- There was running water on the upper floors. The king also had his own chapel.
- The swan was featured a lot as it was Ludwig’s favorite animal.
- The tour is fairly brief at only 30 minutes as the castle was barely finished before his death. It concludes at the Singer’s Hall were there were beautiful paintings all around. Then you enter into the unfinished parts of the castle. There is a balcony with a view of the bridge, a multimedia presentation about how it would have been finished, and a look into the modern kitchen.
- King Ludwig only spent 170 days in the castle total over 6 months.
- I found this guy on the way down. He was already positioned there when I noticed him.
- These squirrels were enjoying the bird feeder (make sure you find both).
- Maximilian and Mary married when they were 32 and 17, respectively. Their son, Ludwig, became the youngest Bavarian King at 18 when his dad died at 53.
- His younger brother Otto fought in the various wars and came home with what would have now been diagnosed at PTSD. He was placed in a mental institution and therefore unfit to potentially rule.
- When Ludwig died, his uncle took the throne and he lived until 1912. Ludwig’s mom died 3 years after Ludwig.
- Electricity was put into the castle in 1910 when an elevator was put in at the request of Leopold who at age 90 requested it.
- The Wittelsbach family (royal family) owns the cast but not Neuschwanstein. Some of their castle have been sold off and some they still own. There are 20 living members of the family left.
- The bedroom is attached to a music room featuring a bust of Wagner. The bedroom had a lot of naked women painted on the walls. There’s a telescope in the dressing area to view the progress of Neuschwanstein. In the ceiling the stars and moon could be illuminated from the third floor.
- Ludwig II stayed unmarried and childless. He was engaged for 8 months to the younger sister of Siss, the Empress of Austria, but he broke it off.
- There are nice gardens around the castle, which is located right off the lake.