Neuschweinstein Castle

You most likely have seen this castle before; it inspired Walt Disney in designing fantasy world, movie makers staged historical and crazy ("Around the World in 80 Days") scenes in this unique location and children's books spin off their accounts on its behalf. Like an eagle's nest it oversees the Hohenschwangau valleys to the North while the backside is protected by steep mountain ranges. King Ludwig's unbendable instinct had the construction site opened in 1869, an epoch in which the European industrialization was already in full swing. Nevertheless the King waited 16 years to move into his castle and spend some time in his favorite place: the swan grotto. During the tormenting construction years he spent hours watching the progress made via telescope from the opposite hill.

Hundreds of craftsmen from around the world executed his wildest dreams. The ballroom, for example, is decorated in the theme of "Parsifal", an opera composed by the much admired composer Richard Wagner who remained an important source of inspiration throughout his life. Today Neuschwanstein is Bavaria's most visited historical monument.

This is King Ludwig's magnificent and most famous castle, built in the neo-late romanesque style. With its turrets and mock-medievalism, its interior styles ranging from Byzantine through Romanesque to Gothic, it's a real fairy-tale fantasy come true. It was built between 1869 and 1886. Neuschweinstein is a splendid and imaginative "fairy-tale castle" high above the Alpsee lake with the Alps towering above it.

Only about a third of the building was actually completed. The 15 rooms you see on the tour show astonishing craftsmanship and richness of detail. Woodcarving in Ludwig's bedroom took 14 carpenters 4 1/2 years to complete. Richard Wagner's operas feature everywhere in the form of murals. (King Ludwig was Wagner's patron, and, it is speculated that the homosexual Ludwig had a secret desire for him.)

King Ludwig II

Born in Nymphenburg Castle, Munich, in 1845, Ludwig II was a member of the Wittelsbach dynasty, and became king of Bavaria at the age of 18 after growing up in his parent's castle Hohenschwangau.

Disillusioned after a lost war with the Prussians, Ludwig lost all interest in politics and became increasingly eccentric.
He loved the theater and music, especially Wagner's operas. He built three castles - Linderhof, Neuschwanstein and
Herrenchiemsee - at stupendous expense.

But his extravagance and near or actual insanity worried the Bavarian government. Ludwig was certified insane
in his bedroom at Neuschwanstein and, a few days later, on 13 June 1886 he and his physician were found
drowned in the Lake Starnberg. It has never been ascertained whether this was an accident or an assassination.

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