As we travel all the way to the end of the Romantic Road we come to the tip of the German border and probably the most famous, popular and enchanting castle in Germany and of all of Europe - is Schloss Neuschwanstein or Neuschwanstein Castle. I have saved the best for last! Yes, this is the castle that was the inspiration for Walt Disney's castles at Disneyland and Disney World. (I have always said Walt Disney was a genius!) And, yes, this is the castle you saw in the charming movie, Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang (1968). I suppose to have this castle as the location of your movie is also genius. I think this castle is what all of us picture in our minds when we hear the word "castle", at least this is the one I picture.
Obviously, this is a must see! Do not leave southern Germany without seeing Neuschwanstein Castle. It is quite an experience. Neuschwanstein Castle is located in the most southern part of Bavaria, on a very steep hill above the village of Hohenschwangau very close to the town of Fussen. And, Fussen is considered the official end of the Romantic Road in Germany. This is a 19th century Romanesque Revival palace commissioned by and funded by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and also as an homage to Richard Wagner, opera composer. Ludwig II was a very intense fanatic and follower of Wagner's operas, specifically "Tannhauser" and " Lohengrin." Ludwig II was an odd, eccentric and different person and built Neuschwanstein so he could live away from Munich and so he could live his idea of the middle ages. He wanted Neuschwanstein to be "in the authentic style of old German knight's castles" - said Ludwig II in a letter to Richard Wagner. That, and the fact that Ludwig was so reclusive was precisely why he attained the moniker, Mad King Ludwig II.
Despite the rumors and "tabloid" newspapers of the time, Ludvig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and personal extensive borrowing NOT with Bavarian public funds as reported at the time. However, his borrowing of monies and requests for extensive credit lines, convinced officials in the royal court that he had "gone mad." By the end of Ludwig's life he had sunk more than six million marks into the building of Neuschwanstein, an extremely high amount of money for the 19th century.
The designer and architect of this magnificent castle was Eduoardo Riedl and he was chosen by Ludwig himself. The castle was originally planned to be built in the neo-Gothic style, but was built primarily in the Romanesque style in the end. The major problem was that he micromanaged every construction and decorating aspect of the castle and drove Riedl and the construction workers "mad." Although, in the Romanesque style for the most part, here are the three architectural styles Ludwig incorporated in his castle:
- Romanesque - simple geometric figures such as cuboids and semicircular arches
- Gothic -upward pointing lines, slim towefs and delicate embellishments
- Byzantine -architecture and art decorating the inside of the castle, especially the Throne Room decor
During Ludwig's lifetime, the castle was not completed; however, when portions of the castle were completed, he did move in and stay in his castle. The castle during this time did not have space for the royal court and only had room for the king's private lodging and servant's rooms. In all, only about fifteen rooms and corridors where complete enough for Ludwig to live in them. Had Ludwig lived long enough for the castle to be completed, it would have had more than 200 interior rooms. Of his beloved castle, Ludwig only lived in it for a total of 176 days.
The castle had all the innovations of the time - the 19th century. It had a battery powered bell system for servants and even telephone lines. It also had running warm water and toilets with automatic flushing! It had a Rumford Oven in the kitchen which the heat from the oven automatically turned the skewer of meat around. And the heat from the oven somehow provided the central heating system - dearly needed on winter days in Germany!
Because of the high cost of the castle for its time and the constant opening of new credit lines by Ludwig, the Bavarian royal government officials decided to depose the "mad" king because of the debts he was running up. In early June 1886, Ludwig was forcibly removed from the castle and put in seclusion or, what we would call house arrest today, for his own protection. He died mysteriously on June 13, 1886 in the shallow shore water of Lake Starnberg nearby.
After Ludwig's death the Bavarian government immediately opened the castle for tours, and at the same time, completed the construction of the castle, and today you can tour the castle all year round. You can only see the castle on official 35 minute guided tours and only certain rooms and corridors of the 200 interior rooms are open for public view. From June-August the castle averages approximately 6000 visitors each year and since the 19th century approximately 60 million people have viewed the castle all together.
When traveling in Germany, whether you are driving your own private car or are on a bus tour, as you enter this quaint area of southern Bavaria and are crossing from one village to another you see Neuschwanstein Castle in the distance, sometimes up in the clouds or in a German fog or mist and it is breathtaking. When you finally arrive and park, there is a tremendous steep hill to climb to get to the castle. It is a good half hour climb or more so wear good walking shoes. I did this climb in my 20's with no problem, but I don't know if I could manage this hike today, so there is a tram and other transportation available for a fee to take you to the top so you can view the castle. The view of Bavaria from atop the castle is stunning, so be sure to bring a camera that day or use your cell phone to take pictures.
So, if you only have time to view one castle on the Romantic Road while in Germany, Neuschwanstein Castle is the one to see!
Read about more cities on the Romantic Road in Germany
- The Romantic Road - Wurzburg, Germany
Come join me on a tour of the Romantic Road in Germany. Wurzburg, Germany is the first city going south on the Romantic Road in Germany. This road is full of castles, old walled cities, medieval knights, and fairytales.
- The Romantic Road - Bamberg, Germany
Continue exploring The Romantic Road, this time in Bamberg, Germany, home of the Bamberg Horseman. Find him for good luck.
- The Romantic Road - Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
The next stop on the Romantic Road is the charming medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
- The Romantic Road - Nuremberg, Germany
Leaving Rothenburg, Germany, we drive south to the next stop on the Romantic Road - Nuremberg, Germany.
Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on February 03, 2014:
Konig Ludwig - your web-site is beautiful. I have never seen such a complete web-site on Ludwig's castles. Just beautiful.
Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on February 03, 2014:
Thank you so much, Konig Ludwig! I am glad you enjoyed reading this! Thanks so much for your comments.
Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 20, 2013:
Epi: You have read this before. Sorry, I didn't even look at the comment section when I sent it to you. Well, if its about Europe or the Caribbean, I can guide you, but there is a whole world out there I haven't been to yet, so my tour guiding is limited. LOL Thanks for your lovely comments. You are a gem!
epigramman on August 19, 2013:
Funny how time flies eh Suzette I was here 22 months ago and little wonder because a hub like this would always catch my eye especially the fact that it's one of my favorite castles in the world.
You truly are my favorite world class tour guide and intrepid traveler and thank you for adorning my FB timeline with this beauty - and the lady behind the pen/keyboard too. lake erie time 6:54pm canada
Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on October 16, 2012:
allgau: Thanks and I'm glad you enjoyed this piece. I had to give King Ludwig, mad as he was, his due. This is a stunning castle! Thanks for your visit.
allgau on October 16, 2012:
Great article! Love the King Ludwig image!!
Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on September 30, 2011:
Epi- thanks again for your support! I appreciate it and all the poetry you write. You are just so fun and interesting to know here in hubpages. Keep writing!
Movie Master: Thank you for your comments and voting up. Yes, the castle is just beautiful and I think the castle of all castles!
Movie Master from United Kingdom on September 30, 2011:
Hi Suzette, this hub has bought back some wonderful memories of when I visited this castle, I love the history, very well written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
epigramman on September 30, 2011:
...always loved this castle - apparently it inspired the Cinderella castle at the original Disneyland and I am inspired naturally to post another great one by you to my Facebook page with a direct link back here - other hub buddies of mine you should check out - Hello, Hello,
Paradise 7 and DRBJ ....
lake erie time ontario canada 7:05am
Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on September 29, 2011:
Go for it! The Rhine Valley of Germany is beautiful and just about a castle on every hill and crevice. Thanks for stopping by!
paulwillson26 from Madrid on September 29, 2011:
Has inspired me to write a hub about the Rhine Valley.
Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on September 28, 2011:
Thank you for reading and commenting. I can relate about the memories. I have been sailing down "memory lane" writing this series on the Romantic Road. I lived in Wurzburg, Germany about 25 years ago and had the good fortune to see just about all of Germany while there.
Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on September 28, 2011:
One of my best memories of living in Germany in the 1980s. My sons did a bike tour of the area when they went to the World Cup in Munich a couple of years ago. They said it was a great way to see the countryside around the castle. Thanks for the memories!