Photo by: Michael Bell
It’s our first castle post here at germany-travel, and the choice for our subject was obvious. Think of Germany and you’ll probably think of “that castle that they used in Disney films”, right? That castle you’re thinking of even has a proper name that may be a little hard to pronounce: the Neuschwanstein castle.
The Neuschwanstein castle is one of the most popular destinations in Germany, visited by over 1.3 million tourists each year. It is known worldwide as a symbol of romanticism, characteristic of the 19th century, and was the model for the Sleeping Beauty Castle in the Disneyland theme parks. It was even among the candidates for the new 7 Wonders of the World, where it finished eighth.
Beyond its majestic, fairy-tale looks, it is a place steeped in history. It stands above Hohenschwangau in Füssen in Southern Bavaria, and was built for King Ludwig II in 1869 as an idealized embodiment of a traditional old German knight’s castle from the Middle Ages. Designs of the castle were from Christian Jank, a Munich painter, further developed by the architect Eduard Riedel, though Ludwig II was heavily involved in its detailed planning and exerted a huge influence. The castle came from his private assets, but escalating costs of the project meant he had to continuously take out loans. While still far from completion, Ludwig II was ordered to move out of his own castle because of his growing debt, and died in nearby Berg Castle the next day under mysterious circumstances. He never wanted to make the castle available to the public, but it was opened to visitors just six weeks after his death who were allowed to roam the castle freely, with the entrance fees used as payment for the staggering loans.
The Neuschwanstein Castle also survived both world wars, and even served a luxurious (but notorious) purpose during the Second World War as a depot for looted art from France and gold treasures from the German Reichsbank. A threat to blow up the Neuschwanstein, as an effort to “protect” its contents, was thankfully not realized.
A visit to the Neuschwanstein Castle today is nowhere near the liberated atmosphere of the 1800s, but visitors can still enjoy a 35-minute tour of the castle. High season is from June to August, so expect long queues. Avoid some stress by buying your tickets online to visit one of the most popular destinations in Germany.