There are certain landmarks and architectural marvels that are inextricably linked with a country. The French have the Eiffel Tower, here in the US we have the Statue of Liberty, Egyptians have the pyramids. Aside from the Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate, the Germans have Neuschwanstein. So famous is the castle that it’s considered part of the German stereotype that foreigners imagine and it’s been “lovingly” adapted by Disney as the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle. It was even voted the number one sight in Germany in 2014. Sometimes there are sights that you just have to see and that’s why Neuschwanstein is on my must see list.
While Germany is seemingly covered with amazing castles that are centuries old, Neuschwanstein isn’t one of them. Well, not exactly. The castle began construction in 1869 under orders from King Ludwig II and was designed by stage designer Christian Jank and built by architect Eduard Riedel. Unfortunately for Ludwig, the castle wasn’t completed in his lifetime — Ludwig II was found dead on Lake Starnberg in 1886 — but it clearly reflects his influence. Ludwig was infatuated with opera and the interior of the castle is covered in paintings and recreations of famous opera sets.
Set high above Hohenschwangau, it’s hard not to be impressed by Neuschwanstein. It simply is a fairytale, no doubt about it. What makes me even more interested to visit is that there’s more than just Neuschwanstein to visit. There’s also another castle, Hohenschwangau, which is the photo on the bottom right above (Wikipedia has a more recent photo for a kind of funny then and now comparison) and it was the childhood home of King Ludwig II. In addition to those two castles, there is the still relatively new (it was opened in 2011) and shiny Museum of the Bavarian Kings, a museum I’m dying to see that tells the history of the Bavarian kings by way of their lineage, portrait collections and plenty of other royal artifacts. If you’re feeling really athletic, you can hike the hilly terrain between the sights or, if you’ve got a few Euros to spend, there are horse-drawn carriages and buses.
I also have to thank my mother, again, for sharing her photos with me for the blog. She was kind enough to share her photos with me from Oktoberfest and I was able to borrow the ones above from Neuschwanstein. Thanks, Mom!