When I travelled to Europe for the first time I was away for eight months. I had a list of places I wanted to see and managed to not only tick most of those off but also to add a whole swag of other places I did not know existed.
And that’s the beauty of travel. The unexpected and wonderful things you discover when you are looking for something else.
At the top of my list for Europe was to see Neuschwanstein, the castle that Walt Disney based his fantasyland castle on.
In the alps of Bavaria, a train and bus ride from Munich, Neuschwanstein is one of two castles in the area not far from Oberammergau of the Passion play fame. That was a nice surprise!
The other castle – Hohenschwangau was built by Ludwig II’s father and is an amber castle further down the mountain. Neuschwanstein was built by Ludwig II, sometimes called the Mad King. However you view him, his grand design for his castle is one that commands the mountain and invokes awe.
Whilst the whole castle is built, only several of the state rooms were ever completed, and these are the bulk of the tour of the castle. The huge carved wooden bed in Ludwig’s bedroom was not only his sleeping chamber, it also served as a reception room sometimes. The throne room and dining hall are well worth a look. No expense was spared on the furnishings – crystal and gold thread embroidery, tapestries and inlaid wood.
Ludwig was also a huge fan of Wagner and built a theatre for him to present his work in. The grotto with water for the swans is amazing to see.
Ludwig also built two other castles – Linderhof, a scaled down model of Versailles – then the most splendid palace in Europe courtesy of Louis the fourteenth, and Herrenchiemsee built on an island in a lake. This last was the only castle Ludwig actually lived in.
Seeing the castle both fulfilled a dream and also slightly disappointed me. I was expecting a completed castle but Ludwig ran out of money to complete Neuschwanstein. Nonetheless, the setting was amazing and the completed rooms are well worth the visit.