The Neuschwanstein Castle, located above the Hohenschwangau village near Fuessen in Allgaeu, is probably the most famous and most popular landmark in Germany. Also known as the “fairy-tale castle”, the magnificent building that was commissioned in the 19th century by King Ludwig II and is the symbol of romance, attracts over two million visitors each year from all over the world.
In 1869, Ludwig II, a Bavarian “fairy-tale king”, who was regarded as dreamy and unsociable, had Neuschwanstein Castle, which is located near Fuessen within a picturesque mountain landscape, built in the style of a German medieval castle as a private retreat. Ludwig II spent much of his childhood and youth with his family in the neighbouring Hohenschwangau Castle. During his excursions through the heavenly Allgaeuer picturesque landscape, he noticed the remains of the Vorderhohenschwangau Castle, which is located on the rugged hill of today’s Neuschwanstein Castle. Presumably at a young age, Ludwig II had already planned to build his symbol of a magnificent medieval castle here.
A few years after his enthronement, it became a reality and the construction work led by the architect Eduard Riedel with designs from the Munich stage designer Christian Jank began. With time, Neuschwanstein Castle became much bigger and more magnificent as originally planned since the king always wanted new additions. This caused considerable delay in the completion of the castle. In 1884, Ludwig II finally moved into the still incomplete castle, where he lived for only 172 days until his death in 1886. Already several weeks after his death, Neuschwanstein was made accessible to the public, although Ludwig II had never intended this in his lifetime. The Bavarian government wanted to use the entrance fees to settle part of the debt that the king had amassed by other expensive palace projects. Neuschwanstein survived both world wars without any harm and today it fascinates two million people, who are captivated by Ludwig II’s romantic dream world and allow themselves to be enchanted by the beauty and splendour of the rooms.
Ludwig II, who had a great passion for legends and fairy tales, also had Neuschwanstein built as a type of inhabitable theatrical setting and a temple of friendship for the composer Richard Wagner, whom he fiercely adored and whose work he loved. The picture cycles in the more than two hundred rooms and halls are inspired by Wagner's operas. The swan, which is the heraldic animal of the lords of Schwangau can often be found here. Neuschwanstein’s most imposing rooms, whose architecture and interiors are characterised by the romantic eclecticism of the 19th century, are the Hall of the Singers with its grandiose gallery and a theatre structured by arcades, as well as the sacred looking and pompous throne room that is modelled after the Court Church of All Saints in the Munich residence. Gold, glitter, velvet and breathtaking works of art dominate most of Neuschwanstein’s rooms. Even the technique is astounding as it was ahead of its time. In the 19th century, there were already telephone lines and automatic flushing toilets.
Neuschwanstein can be visited on most days during a 35 minute guided tour offered in several languages. Tickets are available at the Hohenschwangau ticket centre. The dream castle, which by the way inspired the Disney Studios’ Sleeping Beauty Castle and was used countless times as film scenes, is a must-see during an Allgaeu holiday.