Well, honestly this castle isn’t as majestic and monumental as in the photos around the internet when you look at it from the bottom or some viewpoint yourself. Maybe because it’s so resounding, famous all around the world and place from bucketlists of so many people, you will expect a bit more from it, but don’t be disappointed please, rather enjoy the atmosphere around and perceive its pompous beauty.
I mean, look here. You will never see this (shot used in 95% of postcards):
The best view you can get (when you aren’t into climbing and hiking and you can’t affort drone or helicopter) is from Marienbrucke, and it’s this one:
Quite a difference, don’t you see? Enough complaining, now it’s time to write a bit more about the castle itself.
Neuschwanstein Castle, which King Ludwig II built on a rugged hill against a backdrop of picturesque mountain scenery, was prompted by the idea of rebuilding an existing ruin ’’in the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles’’, as he wrote in a letter to Richard Wagner.
The castle was built by Eduard Riedel and Georg Dollmann from idealized sketches by the scene painter Christian Jank. While the building itself imitates the 13th century Romanesque style, the paintings inside predominantly depict scenes from Wagner’s operas such as “Tannhäuser” and “Lohengrin“. The Singers’ Hall is modelled on the banqueting hall of the Wartburg near Eisenach; the decoration includes wall paintings illustrating the Parzival saga.
The church-like Throne Hall was modelled on Byzantine domed architecture and the Court Church of All-Saints in the Munich Residence and symbolizes Ludwig’s idea of a monarchy by God’s grace. Neuschwanstein is not a copy of a medieval castle but a typical Historicist creation.
Ludwig spent much of his childhood at Hohenschwangau Castle, a neo-Gothic, medieval-inspired castle elaborately decorated with scenes from legend and poetry. After his accession to the throne in 1864, Louis set out to build a “New Hohenschwangau Castle”—as Neuschwanstein was called until after his death—which he intended to be an even better reproduction of a medieval-style castle in line with his fairy-tale vision of monarchy.
Neuschwanstein stands on the site of two smaller castles, the ruins of which were cleared away in 1868. The foundation stone for Neuschwanstein was laid in September 1869. Although Louis expected the entire project to be completed within three years, only the gateway building was inhabitable by 1873. The topping-out ceremony was held on January 29, 1880, but even then the castle was still under construction. The technical fittings were completed some four and a half years later, and the castle remained incomplete in 1886, when Louis died by drowning himself. He had lived there only six months in total. Several weeks after his death, the unfinished castle was opened to the public as a museum. Simplified versions of the castle’s bower and square tower were not completed until 1892, and only about a dozen rooms were ever finished.
Well, when and how to visit it?
In high season, the castle is jammed full of tour groups and individual travellers from early until late (if you want to choose a less busy time, later in the afternoon might be a better option because many tour groups have to be on their way to their overnight stop).
The interior of the castle is interesting, I personally loved it, and it can require a goodly wait to buy tickets and then another wait for your alloted time of your tour to arrive. And many people’ most vivid memory of the spectacular castle and history is of the exterior of it – (not counting looking at it from the row) either looking at it in its setting in front of the mountains or else alternatively from behind it (or above it) and out onto the River Lech and the Forggensee.
But if you are there and have enough time…
Tour is around 40 minutes long, really nice and interesting I would say (audio-guides available in many languages), but watch out! Photographing is strictly forbidden!
If you are not really into history and decide to not to take the guided tour inside, definitely find some time to walk up to the Marienbrücke (the suspension footbridge behind the castle) where some of the lovely shots of Neuschwanstein with Schwangau in the background can been taken. This bridge (which is older than the castle) spans the gap over a waterfall nearly 100 metres below. It’s not named after the Virgin Mary but after King Ludwig’s mother.
So in my opinion…yeah, it is quite overrated, but on the other hand it’s very beautiful and picturesque anyways, so worth of visiting if you don’t mind crowds and waiting. But you know…at least for me was one time enough, I’m not in a need of visiting it again 🙂
the village underneath
reconstruction going on…what a luck do I have!
view from one viewpoint
while waiting in the line…
the only internal spot where you can take photos without being fined
view from Marienbrucke