The fairytale view of Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria | Skeeze
Happy Birthday Neuschwanstein Castle
It’s been 150 years since King Ludwig II laid the foundation stone of the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. To celebrate, it’s been given a 20 million euro facelift of restorative work. Hopefully, this will allow visitors to keep sighing at its beauty for many years to come.
Almost as bewitching as the popular attraction is the story behind Neuschwanstein Castle’s creation. Gather round as we delve into this interesting tale.
Once Upon A Time In Bavaria
Ludwig II reigned as the King of Bavaria from 1864 to 1886. He descended from an impressive family line that included perhaps an even more famous Ludwig (Ludwig I initiated the annual Oktoberfest).
The world now has two nicknames for King Ludwig II. He’s famous the world over as the ‘Fairytale King’ to those who love him, or ‘Mad King Ludwig’ to those who don’t.
He’s known as the ‘Fairytale King’ because he started building a castle way back in 1869 on a hill overlooking Lake Alpsee (as idyllic a place as any you’ll find in Germany). Ludwig intended to recreate the romanticism of the Middle Ages, and - being a good Bavarian - he adored the composer Richard Wagner, so he decided to take influence from his operas as well.
The name is a bit of a mouthful (neu-schwan-stein) but isn’t all German to a non-speaker? It translates simply to ‘new swan castle’.
From these humble foundations, Neuschwanstein Castle is now the most spectacular castle in the world. It’s the most photographed castle in Europe (with over 1.5 million guests in 2018) and truly deserves this title. It sits high above Hohenschwangau village with brilliant panoramas and comes complete with a pretty drawbridge and pointed turrets. It’s no wonder Walt Disney decided to draw on Neuschwanstein Castle as the inspiration for his Sleeping Beauty castle.
So why would people regard imaginative, innocent Ludwig as a ‘Mad King’ then? Well, building a medieval castle of this magnitude requires a lot of funds, and this was often at the expense of his people. Ludwig was diagnosed as insane and was later found dead in shallow water along with his psychiatrist.
The great irony is that Neuschwanstein Castle is now actually a major source of tourism for Bavaria. Turns out he wasn’t that mad after all.
If you’d like to live out your childhood dreams and see Neuschwanstein Castle yourself, be sure to put Germany's Bavaria on your to do list. Below are some of UTracks' active trips where you can explore Bavaria your way (note that not all trips feature Neuschwanstein Castle).
A walk that was particularly dear to the eccentric King Ludwig, King of Bavaria from 1864-1886 and an avid walker. Starting near the site of his death, at the ‘votivkapelle’ (shrine) close to the hamlet of Berg, the 60-mile route – mostly on farm tracks and country lanes – passes two of Bavaria’s most scenic lakes and through charming villages of geranium-bedecked chalets with typical onion-shaped church spires. The trip ends at the fairy-tale Neuschwanstein Castle, the king’s most famous architectural masterpiece, where Ludwig spent most of his childhood.
>> Discover Bavaria: King Ludwig's Way
Beer brewing is an art form in Bavaria, with the region of Franconia in the north of the state home to a third of the country’s breweries. Follow the Beer Cycle Route in the Aisch Valley (with an average of one brewery per kilometre it has the highest concentration of breweries in the world!), take in the beer gardens’ laid-back atmosphere and try a variety of sausages – but there is more than beer, including Rothenburg, Germany’s most medieval city, and UNESCO-protected Bamberg with its half-timbered houses lining the river.
>> Cycle the Bavarian Beer Trail
Explore on foot the stunning Berchtesgaden National Park and the pristine fjord-like Lake Königsee. Located in a romantic and serene region, the lake is surrounded by an imposing mountain landscape. Ascend to the Rossfeld Road for panoramic views of the Bavarian Alps and walk through mountain passes below high rocky summits to discover beautiful valleys, waterfalls, gorges, and rivers. The region is home to numerous attractions, including the historic Austrian village of Golling and Hohenwerfen Castle, backdrop of many WWII films.
>> Have a local walk you around Bavaria
The southern region of Bayern is known for its spectacular scenery, beautiful countryside, traditional architecture, fairytale castles, history soaked cities and some of Germany’s best food, wine and, of course, beer. This barge-based trip showcases the very best of Bavaria, including the historic quarters of Bamberg and the Nuremberg’s medieval and Nazi remnants. In the saddle enjoy a ride along one of Germany’s most beautiful bike routes, the Regnitz-Radweg, and a section on the Danube Bike Path which cuts through green fields dotted with typical Bavarian houses.
Have you been to Neuschwanstein Castle? Let us know in the comments what you thought.
Share this article with a friend who needs to go on an active holiday to Bavaria.