I wanted to visit the Castle primarily to see what and how a medieval- style chateau called the Neuschwanstein Castle, that was built for no strategic or defense purposes, inspired the Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Castle. Well, it turns out that the dainty turrets, cylindrical towers and the romantic views surely did inspire Walt Disney and then forever became a fairy-tale oasis.
The Castle is a hybrid of shapes of Romanesque with cuboid and semicircular arches,Gothic with slim towers and delicate embellishments, Byzantine art and architecture all mingled in an eclectic fusion for a nineteenth century castle.The white sandstone was sourced from a nearby quarry and the sandstone brick for the portals and the bay windows along with the marble from places near Salzburg.
Despite its size the castle does not have space for a royal court, only private lodgings and servant quarters. Ludwig II lived as a recluse in the castle for a total of 172 days only. He was found dead in a nearby lake along with his psychiatrist. He was 40 years old. His death is still a mystery as to if it was a murder, suicide or purely accidental. When Ludwig was stripped of all real power, historians believe he decided to retreat into his fantasy kingdom in the Alps, living in alternate reality in which he could play his operatic daydream of christian knights and magical swans. He would sleep during the day and wander the castle at night.
He had a perfect location picked out as the castle sits near his childhood castle of Hohenschwangau. It has a 360 degree views of pristine alpine scenery of lakes, lush valleys and towering peaks. Had the castle been completed it would have had 200 rooms, with all technological comforts such as electricity, sewage system, central heating and electric buzzers to summon servants. However, only few rooms are in service - The Throne room, Ludwig's Suite, The Singer's Hall and the Grotto. The castle has been featured in movies such as The Great Escape ( 1963) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ( 1968).
To get to the castle we took an early morning train at 5.45 am from Munchen HBH ( Munich's Central Station) to Füssen. The early morning journey was a window into the Bavarian countryside.The rolling green meadows, farms, windmills and solar powered barns made up much of the scenery. The herd of cows strolled and grazed in open un-fenced fields. It drew my attention to the cow bells around their necks. Beautifully handcrafted with representative alpine figures they are hand carved or cut out of wood or bronze with leather collars. Some have sleigh bells jingling, telling the herdsmen how far the cows have cruised out. It keeps the loitering cows safe from wandering off the cliffs as they search for greener pastures. The noise of the bells also keeps evil spirits at bay, such is the belief. The clanging and chiming of the bells is certainly a key part of living on alpine pastures, keeping the old fashioned farm culture and life alive. So then in that moment I decided to buy a cowbell as a souvenir to represent the memories of this trip,
On arriving at Füssen we took Bus 78 that drops you off just downhill at the ticket center by the castles. From here you can go to the two other neighboring castles or take a bus to Neushwanstein castle. A small ride and you get dropped off at a station to hike the rest of the way to the majestic entrance of the castle. Along the way you can take pictures of the beautiful Bavarian scenery that frames all three castles.
The entrance ticket is timed. No photography is allowed of the interiors. It takes about 45 minutes to complete the guided tour.
King Ludwig built a beautiful castle using his vivid imagination. No wonder 1.5 million visitors flock in every year to check it out.