Fairy Tale Castle of Neuschwanstein

You’ve probably noticed that I’m obsessed with castles. Wherever I go, I try not to skip any castle, because they have some special magic in them. One has unbelievable architecture, another hides some secrets, the other ones have old history, etc, etc… But this one is probably one of the most famous one that anyone dreams to go at least once in a lifetime. I’m talking about the fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein or AKA Disney Castle in Germany.

It was first week of May. The weather was unstable. One day was sunny and warm, another day sky was covered with grey clouds. Almost all the time it was raining (even if that were small drops) and was windy. As the visit to Neuschwanstein was mandatory in our plans, we were checking the weather forecast every day to find the most sunny option. And here we are. This was the only sunny day for the last 10 days. The plan was as usual – wake up early morning, run into the train station, buy the Bayern Ticket and enjoy the ride. And we did so. But as the ticket was valid only for trains running after 9am, we had to skip the first train to Füssen, which was our last stop on train. But it’s ok. There was another one going soon and we had time to buy some fresh croissants and coffee for the breakfast.

Using Bayern Ticket was the best option to travel to Neuschwanstein, as it includes all the possible public transport tickets in it. And to reach the Neuschwanstein castle we had to go to Füssen, then take a bus to Hohenschwangau village, from where all the beauty begins.
Füssen seemed to be a cozy place, but we had buses filling with people very quickly (and didn’t know when the next ones will come), so we also ran into them and took a sit. The train and all several buses were full with people and note that this was week day. Imagine what would be on weekends…😱

In some 10-15 minutes we were already in Hohenschwangau, a little village, with amazing beauty. The day before it snowed here. The town was almost dry but mountains around were still in snow. What can I say? This was unbelievable beauty. This was a small village with very few houses & hotels with all painted walls, restaurants, craft & souvenir shops. Few minutes by walk and you’ll see an endless queue. This will be the ticket office where you’ll need to buy your tickets to castles and museums. There were 2 lines. One of them was incomparable longer. This was the usual queue where anyone was going to buy their tickets. Another one was still big, but quite shorter. This one was for already booked tickets, that had to be done online in advance, but needed to select the entrance time during the booking as well, and had additional 2.50eur cost for booking. As we already had the Castle Passes and had to take the tickets only, we were staying on the usual line. But then one of the workers noticed the passes in our hands and offered to pay that additional 2.50eur booking fee and take tickets from “Advanced booked” line. Indeed it worth it, because we saved at least an hour. My advice, if you’re planning to come here, book your tickets online few days before arrival and spend your time walking around then staying in an endless queue.

The woman from another side of “window” gave us the tickets and strictly instructed to be near the castle entrance at least 10 minutes before the mentioned time and not even think about going to the Marienbrücke bridge for a view, as the roads are slippy because of the snow and are closed. This was not the best news, because the best view to the castle was opening from there. But what could we do? We started to walk up on the hill. Take in mind that you can reach Neuschwanstein Castle only by walk, hiking around 30 minutes, or take a horse carriage and reach it 15 minutes… But why to torture those pure animals if we can walk and stop at any place to enjoy each view opened on the way? Look at this.. isn’t it worth a walk?

The road wasn’t difficult. There were families with small kids and even old people walking up on the hill. From each corner the opened view was admiring with its perfection. In some places we wanted to stay a bit longer but had to continue not to miss our entrance. We were there in time, I mean still had some time to walk around, take pictures, etc. The castle was surrounded with snowy Alps. Nearby was a waterfall and somewhere far the Marienbrücke was seen as well. Yes, no one was on it…

When we were already near the castle entrance, there were already a lot of people waiting for their turn. But nobody was in rush. There was a screen in front of the entrance that was showing the number (ID) of tickets on hold. So everyone was waiting for their turn. The entrance was by guided tours only, with a self guided earphones (if you go by yourself) or with a guide (if you go with a group). One woman was late from her group for a minute only and the guard didn’t let her go in. This was sad for her.. Large backpacks were not allowed to take inside, and the small one you had to wear from above (instead of back – in front). And here was our turn. Our guide gently ask not to take pictures inside, as it was not allowed.

Not all of the rooms inside the castle were open to visitors, some rooms were closed at all, others were under reconstruction, but in the same time open to visitors. The interior of the castle itself was a bit dark in my opinion. It’s not only about the lightening (which was intentionally kept almost in the same way as was before) but the decorations. All the wall paintings and the furniture were made in dark shades. Our guide was very nice, telling all the stories of each room, about the king’s life and history.

Now let’s have a small Castle tour with you 😉 Sorry, no pictures inside the castle for you… that was prohibited 😦

The construction of Neuschwanstein castle started in September 1872. The castle was not designed for royal representation, but as a place of retreat. The interior of the castle represents the Medieval Legends, which were also used by composer Richard Wagner in his works. Yes, Ludwig II was obsessed with Wagner, loved his works and invited him to live in Bavaria for years. Another motive of the interior was the swan, which was the heraldic animal of the Counts of Schwangau, whose successor the king considered himself to be. It is also the Christian symbol of the “purity” for which Ludwig strived.

Religious ideas were also used in the 15m high blue and gold Throne hall, inspired by Bysantine basilicas, however it was never used. The room occupied 2 floors, has a massive 4m high chandelier. In the northern apse there was to be a throne in place of the altar, but this was never constructed after the death of the king. The cupola of church like Throne hall is decorated with stars, and the mosaic floor shows the earth with its plants and animals.

Kings bedroom will surprise you with its neo-gothic style bed, unusual washstand with a fountain in the form of a silver-plated swan and wall decorations representing the legend of Tristan and Isolde.
Another unusual construction that you’ll see in the Palace was the small grotto. This artificial cave originally had colored lighting and a waterfall. In front of the cave there was a Conservatory with large windows and a small fountain. This was a perfect place to have a full view to the Alpine foothills.

Another large room was The Singers’ Hall, modeled on the Wartburg near Eisenach. It is decorated with scenes from the legends of Parzival and the the Holy Grail. But during our visit this room was under reconstruction. This was one of the most important rooms in the castle after the Throne Hall. But this hall was also never used for large banquets or musical performances: it was Ludwig’s monument to the knights and legends of medieval times.

Even that the Neuschwanstein illustrated the Middle Ages, there were all the latest technologies used for every comfort. All the rooms of the royal residence were fitted with hot air central heating. Running water was available on every floor and the kitchen had both hot and cold water. Even the toilets had an automatic flushing system (this was the first time that automatic flushing was adjusted somewhere). The king had an electric bell system installed in his Dining room in 1885 to call his servants and adjutants. On the third and fourth floors, where the apartments and the states rooms were, there were even telephones! Meals also were being delivered to king using a lift!

And the last room of our tour is the Kitchen, which was equipped with the last technology on that days. And after the kitchen you’ll have a modern cafeteria and shopping areas. And this was the end: another door was the exit..
The most ironic part of this story is that the castle was built in order to withdraw from public life, but only seven weeks after the death of King Ludwig II in 1886, Neuschwanstein was opened to the public. It became one of the most popular of the palaces and castles in Europe.

From one of the windows we’ve noticed that there are some people on the bridge. How come if it was closed? When we exit the castle, I was going to ask the guard why the gate is closed if there are people on the bridge, but saw some people coming from the other side of the gate with big spades. They were cleaning the snow! And the gate was opened. How lucky we are! If we came here with the first train, exit the castle an hour earlier, we’d miss the bridge. But now we had that opportunity as well. And let’s go, to see what it looks like to have such a view.

It was not very far from the castle. Just some 10-15 minutes walk on an easy trail and we were there. The bridge looked old but safe. Before stepping in on the bridge, you’ll see an electronic table with the number of people already on bridge and the number of people that still can join them. Very easy to control the safety 👌 We were (almost) one of the firsts, I mean 40s, to reach the bridge and indeed it was awesome to be lucky enough to have this chance. The view to the castle was incredible. This is the main point to take pictures of Neuschwanstein Castle with surrounding lakes and mountains and all this together makes the view magical. Note that the bridge is closed on winter time due to safety reasons!

Next to the bridge there was a table with below information about Marienbrücke (Mary’s bridge, named after Queen Marie):

As a child Crown Prince Ludwig had already grown to love the beautiful scenery of the Schwangau arca, including the dramatic waterfall in the Pöllatschlucht above Neuschwanstein. This gorge with its steep rocky walls had already been “discovered” by Maximilian II’s generation as a beauty spot. The wooden railings of the bridge that spans it, the Marienbrücke, were replaced by Ludwig II during the building of Neuschwanstein by the present elegant, cantilever construction made of iron. “The view from up above is enchanting, especially the view from the Marienbrücke of the castle, which will far outshink the Wartburg for all its acknowledged merits of location, architectural splendour and magnificent paintings,” wrote King Ludwig II in a letter in 1881.

There are several ways to go down to the village: take the same way that buses and carriages do, which is more comfortable or do a hiking on a trails from the forest. There were some people doing this but the main crowd takes the comfortable option. With this one you’ll have nice views all the time, as well as some restaurants on the way. On one of them you’ll see a guy selling donuts balls, 3eur for 3 peaces (we asked for 4 pieces for 4 eur 😋). I highly recommend to buy some, they were amazing!! You’ll love them 👌

Indeed this was the most scenic settling for the bridge and the castle, built on a cliff above the Pöllat Gorge by Ludwig II, who spend his childhood in Hohenschwangau Castle built by his father Maximilian II. This castle was situated on the right side of the Alpsee, a lake that has a crystal clear water, which reflects all the surrounding Alpine mountains and the Museum of the Bavarian Kings on the left side. This building used to be a Grand Hotel “Alpenrose”, which later had been converted into a museum and restaurant. The Museum of the Bavarian Kings tells the old history of the house of Wittelsbach over many centuries, one of Europe’s oldest dynasties.

Because of the limited time we didn’t visit Hohenschwangau Castle and the Museum. We were too admired with the view from the Marienbrücke and magnetic Alpsee lake. We’ve even missed the bus to Füssen that was planned to pick (those are buses 73 and 78 running between Füssen train station and Hohenschwangau village) and had to wait another 30-40 minutes on the bus stop for the last one (make sure you’re not late on this too, otherwise you’ll have to stay here or take a taxi to Füssen). That’s a pity, because we were also planning to make a short walk-around in Füssen too before our train schedule, but no.. we arrived to the central station just before our train leaves.

The way back home was full of dramatic and scenic views of the alps and green alleys, small villages and majestic mountains behind. In my simple opinion, this shouldn’t be a day-trip, all in rush. The visit must be planned for at least 2 days, so you can visit each castle without hurry, visit the museum to learn about Bavarian kings, relax near the lake and enjoy the peaceful and beautiful village. Will do so next time 😉 This is the most impressive castle where you can feel yourself as a princess 👸 in a fairy tale. For the most photographed castle there is no any bad view point to take pictures.. any angle will give you awesome shots, so be prepared to have enough memory on your phone or camera to have a million shots ))

Stay tuned, German stories continue 😎

3 thoughts on “Fairy Tale Castle of Neuschwanstein

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