Sunday, December 28, 2008
A Fairytale Castle
I decided to carry on with a little travelog of my 2007 trip. This posting will be on Schloss Neuschwanstein, a castle built by King Ludwig II, also known as the Swan King and Mad King Ludwig.
The castle is incomplete, and visitors were not allowed until after King Ludwig's death. Here is a link for Wikipedia for Neuschwanstein and if you scroll down there is also a link for the official site.
Interior photos are not allowed and the interiors are awe-inspiring. If you get a chance I recommend a visit. Many of the walls are decorated with frescoes depicting scenes from many of Wagner's operas.
Here is a little bit of history on the castle. Young crown prince, Ludwig Friedrich Wilhelm, ascended the Bavarian throne at his fathers death. He had just turned 18. King Ludwig II was a bit of an eccentric. He was Richard Wagners biggest fan and his operas appealed to his fantasy-filled imagination. The King was likely the saviour of Wagners career, as it is doubted that without Ludwig, Wagners subsequent operas would never have been composed.
In 1868 Ludwig first commissioned the first drawings of two of his buildings. The first Neuschwanstein (New Swan Stone Castle) a Romanesque fortress. Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for Disney and his Sleeping Beauty Castle.
The second, Herrenchiemsee, is a replica of the central section of the palace at Versailles, France. It was to be sited on Herren Island in the middle of Chiemsee Lake.
In 1869 the cornerstone was laid for Neuschwanstein. Despite its medieval look, the construction of Neuschwanstein required the modern technology of the day, and the palace is a marvel of technological structural achievements. Steam engines, electricity, modern venting, plumbing and heating pipes are all part of the structure.
Neuschwanstein was near completion when, in 1886, the King was declared insane by a State Commission under Dr. von Gudden and arrested at the palace.
The King could hardly control himself as he asked von Gudden, "How can you declare me insane? You have not yet examined me!" Taken to Castle Berg, he was found on June 13, 1886, in shallow water in Lake Starnberg, drowned, along with von Gudden, the psychiatrist who certified him. The exact circumstances of his and von Gudden's deaths remain unexplained. It is believed that he was murdered.
We arrived in Munich, Germany, on April 25, 2007. My friend, Stacie and I had just spent over 8 hours sitting around Seatac trying to get a flight out as ours had been cancelled due to weather. We finally got a flight with British Airways and were able to fly non-stop.
We were to meet Dana (who was taking a train from Austria) at the airport. Needless to say we had a bit of trouble meeting up, it is a big airport and we spent a couple of hours trying to wind up in the same spot. We had the airport announce we were looking for each other, a couple of times...pretty soon they just didn't want to do it anymore. Finally we were ready to get the rental car.
The rental car agency was none to happy with us, not only because we were about 8 hours later than we should have been but then we were even later picking up the shuttle van. I told Dana and Stacie to look sad that they had caused all this turmoil.....
Of course, we had to have a good laugh about the fact we were all part of Search and Rescue for years and how lost we got at the Munich airport!
We were supposed to get some little Ford something or another and they ended up giving us a Mercedes SUV style rig....not bad. :)
We hustled to our first nights stay one of the only places we weren't staying at a hostel. Gutshof zum Schluxen is a beautiful chalet style lodging in Pinswang.
The view from the parking lot....
It was a short drive to the castle. Once there, the architecture begged to be photographed. Here are some shots up at the castle.
This is part of the painting up near the top on the previous photo:
I loved this "Watchdog" carved into a doorway...
A cool dragon waterspout...
After the tour of the castle, we hike up to Marienbrucke (Mary's Bridge) here seen from the castle, upr right, for views of the castle itself:
Here are some pics from the bridge:
This fellow had hiked up to the bridge with his Irish Wolfhound and Scottish Deerhound:
Here you can see the castle, Schloss Hohenschwangau, also from the bridge. This castle was built by Ludwig II's father Maximillian II of Barvaria and it is where Ludwig spent much of his childhood.
From here we head to Switzerland!