Bavarias Fairy-Tale Castle
Schloss Neuschwanstein, the the fairytale castle, the inspiration for Disney’s logo, and with 1.4 million visitors a year.. One of Europe’s most popular tourist attractions. However, visit during the middle of winter as I did, when snow is falling from the sky, and the wind is blowing you sideways.. And you may consider yourself lucky, as you will have the normally teaming attraction all to yourself.
The astonishing castle was never finished, despite the construction site being the principle employer in the region for more than two decades. More than 200 rooms were planned, but only 15 were ultimately finished. The most interesting rooms to visit are the Bedroom (with his walk-through cave as a wardrobe), the throne room with its elaborate paintings and throne mounted atop a set of ascending steps, and the largest room ‘The Hall of Singers’ which was designed to show the culture of knights and fantasy of the middle ages. For its day (around 1880s), it contained many cutting-edge features such as flushing toilets, battery powered phones for the servants and warm running water! It was designed in ‘castle romanticism’ style, with influences from Ludwig’s enthusiasm for Richard Wagner’s operas, though the famous composer died before setting foot inside the building.
The history of the castle is almost as interesting as its exterior. King Ludwig II of Bavaria bankrupted himself and his vast fortunes in the building (and a few others!) and ultimately, died amongst very mysterious circumstances in a nearby lake after being removed from the throne by his own cabinet, for excessive debt.
For an extra view, free from all tourists you can walk around to the rear (outside) of the castle (near where the exit is from the interior) and follow the path into the hills behind the castle. There you can pass over a bridge (in winter they block it, but if you are surefooted you can climb over the blockade!) and climb up the hill to get a great view, as shown in the feature picture !
The palace can be visited in a 35 minute guided tour only, and tickets must be brought (sometimes hours in advance) for tickets in the summer.
Getting there from Hohenschwangau (127km South-West of Munich).
On foot – You can walk to the castle in about 30 minutes.
Bus – Departure point: Schlosshotel Lisl. The bus goes via Bleckenaustraße to the “Jugend” lookout point (Marienbrücke) From here, it’s a 10 minute walk downhill to the entranceway to the castle. Return trip €2.60
Opening hours and ticket information here – http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/tourist/admiss.htm