16.08.2011 - 16.08.2011 28 °C
Early start today as I was booked to see Neushwanstein Castle. Neushwanstein is one of the top attractions in Europe and deserves its title. It is about 2hr by train from Munich so we all jumped on a train in the morning bound for the Bavarian Alps.
Neushwanstein was built in the late 1800s by the Mad King Ludwig II. Ludwig had quite a sad life. He was brought up by nannies and barely knew his parents and at the age of 18 his father died leaving him the throne of Bayern (Bavaria). (The Bavarian throne was created by Napoleon B during his reign). He then got hoodwinked by Richard Wagner (who nearly bankrupt the Bavarian throne). Wagner was a famous German composer who had huge debts that Ludwig paid off after Wagner came to live in Bavaria with Ludwig. (It is supposed that Ludwig was homosexual and potentially had a relationship with Wagner.. although there is no real proof of this claim). Later he had to sign over his sovereignty to Prussia after losing the 7 weeks war and broke off his engagement to his cousin (most likely because he was gay).
After losing the war (and having his country swallowed into Imperial Germany) he became a recluse and started on his process of building castles. Neushwanstein is built near to another Bavarian castle where he spent time as a child, Hohenschwangau. Hohenschwangau is built on the banks of the Swan Lake; the lake made famous by Tchaikovsky’s ballet.
Unfortunately, Ludwig never saw Neushwanstein finished. In fact he only spent about 170 days in the castle before he was condemned as a lunatic and taken away by his government. He was found dead the following day after going for a walk to a lake with his psychiatrist (the psychiatrist was also found dead). His death is surrounded by mystery as is the claim that he was clinically insane. It seems more likely that he was just a sad lonely man who only wanted to keep building castles!
The castle itself is as beautiful as the photographs make out. The interior is disappointing although with only 16 of the 100 plus rooms finished (and construction ceased on Ludwig’s death) it is probably unsurprising. Lets face it, you don’t go to see the interior you go to see the exterior of the castle amongst the mountains and waterfalls. It is really really beautiful and deserves to be one of the top tourist attractions in Europe (if not the world).
Had a fantastic day (weather was warm and sunny so just perfect photographic conditions) and rounded it out with Chinese with some of the other members of the group.