While many people dream of going to Disneyland to see Cinderella’s Castle, I’ve always dreamed to see its inspiration… nestled on a rocky outcrop in Southwest Bavaria. Indeed, some of Germany’s best attractions are found in this German state with its remarkable and romantic natural landscape and historical attractions.
Often called der Märchenkönig or the Fairy Tale King, Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned the building of this 19th century Romanesque Revival Castle. Neuschwanstein Castle may look old, but it is quite young as far as castles go, having been built between 1869 and 1886. Neuschwanstein Castle sadly left the eccentric king in debt and his royal commissioners grew tired of his uncontrollable extravagances. It is said that 600 centuries of wealth was exhausted in only a decade while building his fairy tale castles (Yes, there’s more than one). He was eventually declared unfit to rule Bavaria and was later on mysteriously found dead on a lake. Weeks after his death, the castle became a lucrative source of income for the House of Wittelsbach. The castle was purposely built to be the reclusive king’s private retreat. Ironically, it is one of the most visited castles in Germany today which attracts about 2 million visitors each year!
From Munich it is a 2 hour train journey, a 10 minute bus ride and a 30 minute uphill walk to the castle. You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to get there and I do suggest planning ahead. There are certain things to keep in mind before visiting.
♦ A trip to Neuschwanstein isn’t something that you can spontaneously do especially in the summer when they get about 6000 visitors a day. Buy your tickets in advance (http://www.hohenschwangau.de) and be at the castle entrance on your designated tour time. Tickets are pretty much sold out everyday and rescheduling for a later time is quite impossible.
♦ Entrance inside the castle is by guided tour only. However, you may spend as much time as you want outside the castle walls for free.
♦ It’s atleast a 30 minute uphill walk to the castle entrance so wear comfortable shoes and keep hydrated. There is also the option to go by horse at €5 per person or by shuttle bus at €1.80 per person.
♦ To enjoy panoramic views of the castle, make time to stop by Marienbrücke (Marie’s Bridge) named after King Ludwig’s mother.
♦ Schloss Hohenschwangau was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and is worth seeing while in the area. Schloss Linderhof was the king’s hunting lodge which he dubbed as the New Versailles. Some tours and packages provide the chance to explore Schloss Neuschwanstein either with Schloss Hohenschwangau or Schloss Linderhof.