Perhaps the most recognized castle in the world, Neuschwanstein Castle sculpts the landscape of Bavaria with romance, art and a vision come true. King Ludwig II brought a fairy tale to life with the construction of Neuschwanstein Castle. Today the castle experiences up to 6,000 visitors per day during the high season and is a world renowned symbol of romanticism.
The Plans for Neuschwanstein
Crown Prince Ludwig II, was born in 1845 and spent every summer of his childhood in the Bavarian Alpine landscape. His father had very recently built a new castle, Hohenschwangau on the ruins of the original Schwanstein Castle. The summer home of his childhood, was overlooked by two other castle ruins; Vorderhohenschwangau and Hohenschwangau. By the tender age of 14, Ludwig II was so familiar with the ruins and landscape that he began sketching the area. These sketches would be the first blue prints to one of the most famous castles in the world.
Ludwig’s father adored the Middle Ages and the chilvary based stories of knights and ladies. He decorated every bare surface in Hohenschwangau with murals and art. These details and stories allowed Ludwig’s imagination to run wild and he would later put it to the test with the construction of Neuschwanstein. In September of 1869, construction began on the expansive wilderness retreat. Young Ludwig, aged 24, was a reclusive young king. He went into great debts to remove himself from the bustle of Munich.
After going into over 14 million marks worth of debt to build his dream palace, Ludwig II would only spend 11 nights inside its thick walls. In a short 15 years after the first stone was laid, the King would die at the young age of 39. He named his palatial home New Hohenschwangau. The name would be changed upon his death to Neuschwanstein and thus opened to the public.
Planning Your Trip to Neuschwanstein
Neuschwanstein and its neighbor Hohenschwangau (childhood home and castle inspiration) share a central access. Both are located deep in the Bavarian landscape and require a rental car or planned tour company to access. As soon as you know that the trip will happen you need to book sleeping accommodations. Fussen is the nearest village with these accommodations and they are reasonably priced given the distance to the castles. The morning of your tour you will arrive to a parking lot entrance that presents with a “downtown Disney” feel. The street giving access to both castles is lined with restaurants and high end shops. If you did not prebook your castle tickets then you will need to jump in line at the ticket building. This line could take you upwards of 2.5 hours to get through.
You will want a full day to tour both houses. I highly recommend touring Hohenschwanstein first, as this is the childhood home that gave much of the inspiration for the later building of Neuschwanstein. By doing so, you will have a much deeper understanding of the design and decor that went into Neuschwanstein. It is also important to leave time to tour the museum and to hike through to the bridges, waterfalls and views offered by the landscape. Prepare for a very full day, but one you will never forget.
With three lakes, a waterfall, two substantial hikes (accessible) and a long climb to the entrance of Neuschwanstein (can pay to ride a carriage) you need to be prepared with good quality shoes, snacks and water. Because of its location the weather is not overly hot, but it is typical to have mountain created rains. A poncho would be a nice addition to your day pack.
Once in a Lifetime Visit
Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau may be a once in a lifetime experience for many people. With that mindset it is easy to get wrapped up in the shops and trinket stores. Do yourself a favor and order different foods off of the restaurant menus. Hike to get to the best views. Pay extra for a more in-depth tour option. The memories and the view will not fade and those are the areas worth spending more money and time. Neuschwanstein is a fairytale book experience. It is easy to see the inspiration that Walt Disney must have seen when he was planning Cinderella’s Castle design. There is nothing better than seeing it for yourself though. So go. Get out there and have a wonderful time.