Day #6 - Neushwanstein, Germany - Fairytale Castle
Fussen is nestled in Bavaria, Germany, very close to the Austrian border and the foothills of the Austrian Alps. The drive towards Fussen revealed snow covered Alps and even fairly fresh snow not far from the roads. We guess that the snow we saw coming from Freiburg probably landed itself here as well....amazing! Fussen was the home of the late King Ludwig II who died in 1886. It is famous for two huge castles that can be seen here: Neuschwanstein & Hohenschangau. Our target for the day was Neuschwanstein (meaning New Swan Stone). We set off in a wagon attached to 2 clidesdale horses to get up the massive hill leading to this amazing piece of architecture. What a ride!
Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for Walt Disney's own fairytale castle at Disneyland and was finished back in 1886. King Ludwig II of Bavaria had it built in honour of his close friend, composer Richard Wagner and it was supposed to house Bavarian Operas. This never happened, however, as Ludwig was declared insane by a doctor and died not long after - before the castle was even completely finished. He had accumulated so much debt with this project that it was decided to open it to the public as a tourist attraction (only 6 days after his death) to pay back his debt and was, sadly, never fully completed. It does, however, house a small concert every October (this would be quite something).
The castle is remembered in posters all over the world. These pictures show only it's beautiful exterior. Inside, this castle is something else completely. Truly the stuff of fairytales. Rooms are painted with scenes from Bavarian Operettas, Furniture is carved from timber (each piece taking years to complete), rooms are themed, hidden doors abound, pictures & carvings of swans are subtly in most rooms (up to 100 swans in some rooms)and there's even a very dramatic cave room. This place would have been amazing in it's full potential. It's kind of a waste to see it as simply a tourist attraction. Imaginations could go absolutely wild here. Very sad that Ludwig was considered insane for being such a dreamer....what a waste!
click here for google images
We left the castle feeling very inspired. All 4 of us were totally captivated by the whole experience. On the way to the car we stopped to get the boys a real bretzel (pretzel) which they quickly devoured. Next stop....Salzburg (Austria).