Nestled in the rugged Bavarian hills with the Alps looming behind them, are two stunning castles. Schloss Neuschwanstein with it dreamy fairy-tale towers and the ochre coloured neo-Gothic style Schloss Hohenschwangau.
The quieter less attention seeking sister, Hohenschwangau, was rebuilt by King Maximillian II Bavaria, from 1833 to 1837.
It is erected on the site of the original castle which was left to fall to ruin, after it had been passed through the hands of various noblemen.
This castle is visited by fewer people than Neuschwanstein, but the guided tour of Hohenschwangau feels more personable and the rooms are a lot more accessible to the public.
Within both castles you are unable to take photos of the interior, but they do allow you to take photos of the stunning scenery out of the windows, the backdrop being the Alps and Lake Alpsee.
When King Maximillian II Bavaria died in 1864, Ludwig his eldest son succeeded him to the throne and moved from the castle annexe, he shared with his brother, into his father’s state rooms.
Today you can see the night sky that Ludwig had painted on his bedroom ceiling along with a number of twinkling stars, (who said he was mad).
As Ludwig grew older he became more introverted and reclusive and although Hohenschwangau was the childhood home, he wasn’t content with living in the same residence as his mother.
So in 1869 construction started on the majestic Schloss Neuschwanstein (New Swanstone Castle).
The jaunt to Castle Hohenschwangau of which we opted for the 20-minute route via the steps, was fairly steep, but nothing prepared you for the 40-minute trek up to King Ludwig’s II abode.
You do have a choice of the mode of transport up to Neuschwanstein Castle, but the horse and carts were a bit infrequent and the queue for the bus was rather long.
Once again we opted to walk, it was a very pleasant walk and luckily in the shade, but it was definitely on the steep side.
Whilst on the vertical climb we noticed there were various food and drink establishments, so a mental note was made for a bratwurst and a beer on the way back down.
King Ludwig, also known as ‘mad King Ludwig’, had this amazing enchanted castle built on the craggy hilltop which previously housed the ruins of twin medieval castles.
Ludwig would spy on the ongoing construction of his new castle from a telescope he had installed in Hohenschwangau.
Neuschwanstein with its imposing exterior, which looked down upon his own father’s castle, was decorated with a large influence coming from the composer Richard Wagner’s works, of whom Ludwig was obsessed with. The ‘Hall of Singers’ on the fourth floor is adorned with themes from Wagner’s operas.
There are some stunning rooms in the castle, one of which is The Throne Hall. The mosaic floor in this room was completed after the Kings death in 1886, but the apse which was to hold King Ludwig’s II throne was never completed.
The fairy tale castle
Externally this castle is one of the prettiest in the world but unfortunately internally it was never fully completed.
Of the 200 rooms and halls that King Ludwig II planned only around 15 were finished and he only ever lived in the castle for a handful of days.
The first floor of this castle is accessible to the public, but the second floor still remains incomplete with bare brick.
Just to add a bit of confusion, once King Ludwig II Bavaria died, the names of the castles were changed.
Prior to the current names Hohenschwangau Castle was known as Schwanstein Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle was known as New Hohenschwangau Castle.
This is a really beautiful place to visit, the enormity of this construction defies belief. You can see why this castle was the inspiration behind the Magic Kingdom castle in Disney World.
We found out whilst on our tour, that the locals were unaware that actual stolen works of art, had been stored in Neuschwanstein Castle by the Nazi’s during WWII as depicted in ‘The Monuments Men’.
A little bit extra…
There are various types of tickets that you can purchase at the ticket office, as not only are there the two castles to visit, but there is also the Museum of the Bavarian Kings.
You can purchase four types of tickets;
We purchased the King’s ticket which meant we could visit both castles for €23 (2015 price) - The 2020 price is €25
Inspired to visit Neuschwanstein?
To visit the fairy-tale castle that inspired Walt Disney? Does the history of King Ludwig's folly tempt you?
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