Neuschwanstein is arguably one of the most beautiful castles in the world. It is situated on a high and rugged hill, just as you would imagine the perfect Fairy Tale Castle to be, above the village of Hohenschwangeu, in the Bavarian state of Germany. The History of Neuschwanstein Castle is as fascinating as the building itself. King Ludwig II planned this magnificent building as an homage to the Operatic works of Richard Wagner… but sadly, neither were able to see the castle completed. Today, the castle is one of the most visited tourist sites in Germany.
History of Neuschwanstein Castle
There is no denying that Neuschwanstein Castle fits most people’s stereotypical views of how a castle should look, and this is no accident. The castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who stated in a letter to his dear friend Richard Wagner that he wanted it to be “in the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles,” and that he also wished it to be “holy and unapproachable.”
Wagner himself was actually also a large part of Ludwig II’s inspiration for Neuschwanstein. Wagner was a composer and theater director whose operas Ludwig II had fallen in love with. In fact, Neuschwanstein was intended to be a direct homage to Wagner and his works. In the same letter as mentioned above, Ludwig II wrote that the castle was to be “a worthy temple for the divine friend” (“divine friend” meaning Wagner).
Neuschwanstein, which means “New Swan on a Rock”, got its name from Ludwig II’s childhood home, the Castle Hohenschwangau. It was built in a Romanesque Revival style, a type of 19th century building style which was inspired by architecture from the 12th and 13th centuries. The 19th century saw many castles being built and reconstructed in this style. Neuschwanstein itself was built in a place previously occupied by two medieval castles. The twin castles were demolished, and Ludwig oversaw the laying of the foundation stone of Neuschwanstein in 1869.
For the next 20 years the construction site provided work for many people in the area. Ludwig II did not use any public money to build the castle, but rather his own fortune and borrowed funds. He intended to live in Neuschwanstein one day, but, unfortunately, once he did finally get a chance to move in, he died mysteriously of drowning, less than 200 days later in 1886. Wagner, who had died in 1883, was never able to step inside the castle which was constructed in homage to him. The walls of Neuschwanstein are decorated with frescoes depicting scenes from the legends used in Wagner’s operas, including Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde, Lohengrin, Parsifal, and the somewhat less than mystic Die Meistersinger.
Because of Ludwig II’s grand and expensive construction plans, deep loan debt, and because of his disinterest in the day to day matters of state, a power struggle broke out between the King and his ministers. He wanted them dismissed and replaced, but they responded by having him declared insane, and planned to replace him with his uncle, Prince Lutipold.
When Ludwig II mysteriously died of drowning while on a walk around Lake Starnberg near Schloß Berg accompanied by his physician, Dr Gudden, Neuschwanstein was still unfinished. However, it was opened up to the public shortly afterwards. Although the King paid for his pet project out of his own pockets, he had run up high debts in the construction of Neuschwanstein, that deeply affected the state of Bavaria. Fortunately, these debts were balanced out by 1899 with revenues from paying visitors.
The skyward-reaching walls and towers of Neuschwanstein have attracted and inspired millions of people throughout the years. One of Neuschwanstein’s most well-known inspirations just happens to be Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland, Anaheim. From the day it opened to the public until now, Neuschwanstein has steadily remained one of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe. It sees 1.3 million visits annually, and has had a total of 60 million since its opening. You should definitely plan to see this stunning castle for yourself.
The only way to visit Castle Neuschwanstein is with a guided tour.
Do It Yourself
Be aware, it’s best to reserve tickets in advance. You will be assigned a specific tour time. Same day tickets tend to sell out.
For more information, please click here check to the —>>Castle Neuschwanstein English language Website.
Neuschwanstein Castle: An Exploring Castles Travel Guide
What will you see on your tour of Neuschwanstein?? This guide, available in paperback and on Kindle, will prepare you for your tour.
Join Small Group Guided Tour from Munich
The enchanting old-world town of Fussen lies in the foot hills of the Alps, framed by one of the most breathtaking natural settings in the world. Traveling by rail on small group guided tour from Munich, you’ll tour the ethereal Neuschwanstein Castle, be taken to the best vantage points; the lake, the postcard-perfect aerial view of the equally beautiful Hohenschwangau Castle and to the waterfall gorge.
Neuschwanstein Castle Small-Group Day Tour from Munich – $48.29
Skip the Line!
Join a day tour to Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle (entrance not included), through the old town of Fuessen and to the waterfall at the boarder to Austria along the Alps. Enjoy skip-the-line entrance at Neuschwanstein Castle. In the afternoon, travel to Oberammergau for some shopping. Then take advantage of skip-the-line access at Linderhof Palace, and tour its magnificent formal gardens. Round trip transportation from Fuessen is provided.
See Neuschwanstein AND Linderhof
Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof Guided Tour – From Frankfurt – $60.49
Visit two of King Ludwig’s private castles and enter a world of fairy tale fantasies
Take a Romantic Carriage Ride!
Visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a half-day skip-the-line tour from Füssen! After arriving in Hohenschwangau, hop on a shuttle bus and head inside the fairy-tale castle for a walking tour, learning all about King Ludwig II, for whom Neuschwanstein was built. After hearing the history from an expert local guide, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride back to the village of Hohenschwangau, stroll around Lake Alpsee and return to Füssen.
Take a Rare PRIVATE TOUR of Neuschwanstein
Enter the fairytale kingdom of 19th-century Bavaria on this royal castle tour with an expert guide! Traveling from Munich by private vehicle, you’ll visit two enchanted castles once inhabited by King Ludwig II – Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. Take in the breathtaking alpine views with a leisurely lakeside stroll around the shores of Alpsee, or complete your magical day tour with a short stop at the magnificent Linderhof Castle on your return to the city.
Private Tour: Royal Castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau from Munich – $160.97
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