Visiting Neuschwanstein – the castle of the Mad King

We love visiting castles and Neuschwanstein has been on our list since a long time. Beautiful, outstanding, marvellous. It’s not easy to describe it in one word. Not without reason it’s called ‘fairy-tale castle’. It was the prototype of the Sleeping Beauty Castle 🙂 Every year it’s visited by 1.5 million people and in summer by 10 thousand tourists daily.

We went to the castle from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. We knew we were close but we had no idea we would see the building so beautiful from the road. The neighbourhood in winter is really charming. We drove through villages surrounded by mountains with snow. At first we noticed the smaller Hohenschwangau castle and a moment later Neuschwanstein. The view just took my breath away.

Few minutes after we arrived to Hohenschwangau, a village in Schwangau where both castles are located. If you go by car this is where you should park it. There are several car parks around the tourist information point. We chose a random one for 6 euro for the whole time of our visit.

The only Ticket Office is also located in Hohenschwangau. It’s a good idea to book the tickets earlier to avoid queues. In summer you may wait even 2 hours in the queue. We wanted to book it but it’s possible only two days before the planned visit and what’s more you should do it in the morning. If you try to make the reservation after 3 p.m. the visit will be possible two days later. We didn’t manage to make it because of lack of Internet during our trip. We went in the morning hoping that there wouldn’t be many people because of the hour and winter time. Even though the castle in winter looks really lovely, most visitors go there in summer.

It was perfect time. We got tickets for the visit one hour later. Thanks to that we had enough time to climb the hill and get to the castle. The way up takes around 20 minutes. You can also go by hansom cab but it wasn’t an option for us. We wanted to walk on our own.

On the way there is a better view of Hohenschwangau castle. This castle was built by King Maximilian II of Bavaria on the ruins of 12th century fortress. The construction started in 1833 and it was the summer residence of the King Maximilian and his family. Among them there was his son who later became Ludwig II of Bavaria and started the construction of Neuschwanstein. King Maximilian chose this place for the castle because of beautiful views. It’s an interesting question if he expected that his son would create one of the most visited castles in Europe so close.

We reached the top of the hill and still had time to look around the castle. Unfortunately the main entrance was under renovation. We waited for our time for the visit. There is no possibility of entering the castle without a guide. At certain hours there are group visits in different languages. We chose the English one because it was the soonest. Near the entrance a small, probably 4- years old  girl asks her mother ‘Mummy, are we gonna see dragons?’. Well, there weren’t any but that’s for sure because Ludwig II died before finishing the construction. If it wasn’t for that, there could have been dragons too 😉

The views from outside the castle are just amazing. You can see mountains everywhere through the window. It’s a shame that the king couldn’t enjoy it for long. The construction began in 1869 and Ludwig died in 1886 before it was done. Despite that he lived for some time in the castle. Building the castle put the Mad King in debt. It’s hard to be surprised; it was worth a lot of money…

During the guided visit you can see only some rooms for example the Throne Hall, king’s bedroom, kitchen. The castle had very innovative, for its time, facilities. It had running water, stoves for heating. Ludwig also made them install a phone that was connected to the telegram at the post office in Schwangau. The king loved opera and… swans. He prepared a special hall where he was supposed to listen to operas and the whole castle is full of swans in different forms for example painted on the paintings or handles shaped as swans. The Throne Hall is a very interesting although we should say it’s “Throneless Hall”. Ludwig II commissioned making the throne but he died before it was finished. Because of financial problems, his family cancelled the order and the throne was never created.

At the end  of the visit you can also see a presentation about the construction of the Neuschwanstein castle. There are first projects of the castle, visualization of how it was supposed to look like at the end. It also turns out that Ludwig planned constructing  another palace Falkenstein, even more marvellous than the previous one 🙂 As we know it remained only as a plan but the projects of the new castle were very interesting. It’s worth to mention that Neuschwanstein wasn’t the first idea of the ‘Fairy Tale King’. He ordered the construction of Herrenchiemsee and Linderhof palace. Seems that the king invested all his income in castles’ construction. That was also the reason why he had so many opponents. I don’t think they would complain so much now if they could see that the castle brings crowds of tourists to Bavaria.

After visiting the castle we planned to go to Marienbrücke which is Queen Mary’s Bridge. It was named like this because of Queen Mary, the mother of Ludwig II. From the bridge there is a lovely view of Neuschwanstein. Unfortunately, because of winter the way to get there was closed. It was too slippery to walk safely. Well, we will have to come here again 🙂

We went down and took a walk. We passed next to the Museum of Bavarian Kings, an interesting place for those interested in the history of the region. Nearby there is a lake Alpsee. It’s all frozen so we just stay to admire the snowy tops of the mountains around and rest for a while. It’s a perfect end of the visiting such an admirable place.

Practical information about the visit to Neuschwanstein castle:

– It’s better to book the tickets two days earlier in summer season. You can do it here

– A ticket for an adult costs 13 euros.

– Visiting with a guide takes around 30 minutes.

– Walking up the hill takes around 20 minutes.

– You can’t take pictures inside the castle.

– The cost of the car park is 6 euros.

*Ufortunately the main photo is not ours. It was taken from Mary’s Bridge that was close during our visit. The hoto comes from here.