It is surely the most famous castle in the world — and, like its builder, one of the most misunderstood. Neuschwanstein (noy-shvahn-shtine) castle is a structure of contrast, irony, and mystery — and beauty. When it was built (1869-1892), the castle was not known as Neuschwanstein. Ludwig II wrote his friend Richard Wagner in May 1868: “I intend to rebuild the old castle ruins of Hohenschwangau by the Pöllat gorge (Pöllatschlucht) in the genuine style of the old German knightly fortresses...”
|2012 Notice: The Bavarian Palace Department has announced that the western and northern facades of Neuschwanstein Castle will be in covered by scaffolding for exterior wall renovation work in 2012. The castle will remain open for tours, but your photographs of the castle may not be as beautiful as usual.|
One of the biggest ironies of this castle is that a structure built to be a private refuge, “sacred and out of reach” (“heilig und unnahbar”), should now be host to thousands of tourists each day. Another irony: although it was built largely as a stage for Wagnerian productions (“a worthy temple for the divine friend [Wagner]”), the composer never set foot in Neuschwanstein. Nor was the castle’s throne room ever completed in time to contain a throne.
The engineering architect was Eduard Riedel (after 1874, Georg Dollmann; from 1886 to 1892 Julius Hofmann), and Neuschwanstein is an engineering marvel. The castle’s construction lasted 23 years, until long after Ludwig’s death. Although built in the Germanic late Romanesque style of the 13th century, the castle was equipped with the best technology available in the late 1860s. Quite unlike any real medieval castle, Neuschwanstein has a forced-air central heating system. Its rarely-used kitchen was of the most advanced design. The winter garden features a large sliding glass door.
Out of all of Ludwig’s amazing “fantasies in stone,” Neuschwanstein seems to be the most fantastic.
With some of the structure still not totally complete, Ludwig moved into Neuschwanstein’s finished rooms for the first time in 1884. The king spent eleven nights in his dream castle from 27 May to 8 June.
Contrary to popular legend, Ludwig’s building projects did not bankrupt the Bavarian treasury. Neuschwanstein, like Ludwig’s other castles, was financed entirely from the king’s own funds. Today, like his other palaces, Neuschwanstein earns the state of Bavaria considerable sums of money each year, and draws many tourists to southern Germany.
|King Ludwig’s Palaces|
|Castle / Palace
|Date of Construction
(Neue Burg Hohenschwangau)*
Christian Jank/Eduard Riedel
on Chiem Lake (Chiemsee)
|1873 purchase of Herren Island
|Falkenstein||Planning begun 1883;
Christian Jank/Eugen Drollinger
|*Neuschwanstein (“new swan stone”) was not known by that name until after Ludwig’s death. He called it “Neue Burg Hohenschwangau.”|
- Also see: King Ludwig II of Bavaria
- King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the man who built Neuschwanstein
- Photos: Neuschwanstein Castle
- Reichsburg Cochem - A castle on the Moselle River, built at the same time as Neuschwanstein!
- Castle Guides - More castles in Germany!
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