So, how mad do you need to be to want to live in a castle? To feel like a princess every day? To feel like you are in your own movie? Not too mad I reckon. If only I had the money. I would buy this little beauty on the hill instantly. One rich king of Bavaria decided to just go for it and build his own happiness in the form of a dream castle. This was however not without risks as he didn’t even get to finish it.
Ludwig II, or mad king Ludwig, was a ‘strange’ guy growing up. Instead of listening to his father and growing up as a ruler, he chose to pursue arts and fantasy. He became king anyway and decided to put all the family’s money, acquired over some 700 years, into his own projects, the building of massive castles that only a great mind could dream up. Unfortunately these projects didn’t come cheap and his family started to think of ways to get rid of him. Officially nobody knows why poor Ludwig was declared a madman and then ended up dead in the lake, but it was his own blood that had him declared mad in the first place, eager to get him off the throne.
Now I wonder who the real mad men were. Thanks to the crazy of the family, we now have a gorgeous castle to visit, the inspiration for Walt Disney, schloss Neuschwanstein. Once the project of the black sheep in the family, it has now become a cash cow for the state of Bavaria, with 6000 visitors a day in the summer months. In 1868 it might have seem like a bad idea to some, but if only they could see the castle’s attraction today. We all want to see it. We all wish we could be in it. I think we all must be slightly mad.
We’ve all had dreams. Some of us might even have imagined what our dream houses would look like. And, don’t we all fantasize about winning the lottery and what we
would do with millions in our accounts? This man actually built what he had dreamed up and I can only applaud him. His castle was meant for his eyes only, but I’m glad we all get to enjoy it now, even if it is with hundreds of people at a time. The rooms are designed to look like the castles in the middle ages, only with all the modern facilities of the day, like heating. Unfortunately most of the castle wasn’t finished at the time of Ludwig’s death, but the rooms that are can be visited today.
On the walls are paintings of stories and the wood carvings of the walls, cabinets and beds are amazing. Not only the decorations make you think of the middle ages, but also the big throne room, which could have easily been the set of game of thrones. The chandeliers look like massive crowns and one of the rooms is lit by 600 candles, all for the king. There is a grotto, which is absolutely amazing. You walk through a little cave, which has a side entrance to an idyllic outdoor terrace. From every window you seem to have a good view over the Alps and the towns and lakes below.
Competition is fierce. Tour buses come and go, dozens of cars fill the parking lots and public transport is overcrowded with eager tourists. If you want to visit the castle on your own, you’d better come prepared. Don’t wait till the last minute with buying tickets. You need to reserve them at least two days in advance and then you can pick them up from the ticket office. If you don’t reserve, you’ll probably have to wait for hours until you can go on a tour, that is if there is still a tour available. If you haven’t booked in advance it’s always possible to go with a tour company since they can get around the cues and get you in without a wait. But for the budget option, come prepared. A tour doesn’t add that much value, other then arranging your tickets.
To get there you take a train from Munich to Füssen. Then there are buses from the train station to Hohenschwangau, where you can find the ticket office. You still need to make it up the hill and have a choice of bus, horse drawncarriage or your feet. It is perfectly walkable and takes up to 40 minutes. You pass a gorgeous lake in which you could also swim on a hot day. Neuschwanstein is worth seeing even if you only have one day to visit the area, however, if you have some time, book a hotel in Füssen. It looks like an amazing town and especially if you love active things, there is a lot more te explore in the area.