The most visited castle in Europe (about 1.5 million tourists every year), Neuschwanstein is situated in the South of the country, in Munchen’s proximity. Dominating the Hohenschwangau village and offering amazing views over the Alps and the Alpsee Lake, Neuschwanstein is said to have inspired the famous Sleeping Beauty Castle designed by Walt Disney. The castle itself represents a picturesque image and the best view over it can be taken from Marienbrucke bridge, under which you can admire a 45 meters high waterfall.
Despite its medieval look, Neuschwanstein was built around 1870 (the first foundation brick was laid in 1969) on the ruins of two other castles, on Ludwig II (King of Bavaria)’s order and out of his desire to pay a tribute to Richard Wagner. Indeed, many of the rooms use as main decoration theme architectural and stylistic elements that would have suited the tastes of the king’s favorite composer. This is why the recurrent themes depicted on castle’s walls or ceilings are love, guilt, repentance or salvation. The king entrusted the architect Eduard Riedel with this grandiose project in which he invested all his fortune and gave him orders to mix medieval and Gothic Revival styles, as originally he wanted the castle to be reminiscent of the knights.
Unfortunately, the king did not live to see his project completed. He moved into the castle in 1884, when only the 3rd and 4th floor had been finished and died two years later, three days after having been forced to give up his throne, drowned in the Starnberg Lake in mysterious circumstances, together with the doctor who had declared him insane. The Bavarian authorities decided not to continue the works on this castle. Therefore, only 15 rooms out of 200 have been finished and they are the only ones available for tours.
Although not entirely complete (the main element is missing), the Throne Hall proudly displays to visitors a round-shaped ceiling adorned by paintings of the 12 saints, suggesting that the king saw himself as a intermediary between people and the divine forces. The other mural decorations of the room refer to Parsifal’s story.
A cave-decorated with a waterfall and a set of lights, was built near the lounge and Ludwig II’s office. His bedroom, on whose decoration fourteen sculptors have worked for almost four years is equipped with Gothic style furniture and its walls are covered in oak paneling and bearing paintings inspired by Wagners’s Tristan and Isolde.
The castle’s visitors can also admire the Singers’ Hall (inspired by the decors used for the staging of Wagner’s Tannhauser opera) with its rich ornaments and impressive acoustic level, the Neo-Gothic Oratory, the Dining Room with its massive marble table and embroidered red silk clothing as well as a cutting-edge kitchen for the time the castle was built. Actually, the whole castle was equipped with all sorts of devices using advanced technology for those years: electrical lighting, steam engines, lead plumbing, elevators, central heating and ventilating systems.