Yesterday, we spontaneously hopped into the car and drove to Germany. Although we often talked about going there again, it took us about 30 years to make it happen. But yesterday was the day. The weather was fantastic, and we were very excited to be at that beautiful place again.
Here are some facts about the castle taken from Wikipedia and some pictures I took yesterday (unfortunately, it was not allowed to take pictures inside the castle):
Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century historicist palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and in honor of Richard Wagner. Ludwig chose to pay for the palace out of his personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, rather than Bavarian public funds. Construction began in 1869 but was never fully completed.
The castle was intended as a private residence for the King, until he died in 1886. It was open to the public shortly after his death. Since then more than 61 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle. More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with as many as 6,000 per day in the summer.
In the 19th century, many castles were constructed or reconstructed, often with significant changes to make them more picturesque. Palace-building projects similar to Neuschwanstein had been undertaken earlier in several of the German states and included Hohenschwangau Castle, Lichtenstein Castle, Hohenzollern Castle, and numerous buildings on the River Rhine such as Stolzenfels Castle. The inspiration for the construction of Neuschwanstein came from two journeys that Ludwig took in 1867 — one in May to the reconstructed Wartburg near Eisenach, another in July to the Château de Pierrefonds, which Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was transforming from a ruined castle into a historic palace. The King saw both buildings as representatives of a romantic interpretation of the Middle Ages, as well as the musical mythology of his friend Wagner, whose operas Tannhäuser and Lohengrin had made a lasting impression on him.
The construction costs of Neuschwanstein in the King’s lifetime amounted to 6.2 million marks (equivalent to 43 million 2017 €), almost twice the initial cost estimate of 3.2 million marks. As his private means were insufficient for his increasingly escalating construction projects, the King continuously opened new lines of credit. In 1876, a court counselor was replaced after pointing out the danger of insolvency. By 1883 he already owed 7 million marks, and in spring 1884 and August 1885 debt conversions of 7.5 million marks and 6.5 million marks, respectively, became necessary.
Even after his debts had reached 14 million marks, King Ludwig II insisted on the continuation of his architectural projects; he threatened suicide if his creditors seized his palaces. In early 1886, Ludwig asked his cabinet for a credit of 6 million marks, which was denied. In April, he followed Bismarck’s advice to apply for the money to his parliament. In June the Bavarian government decided to depose the King, who was living at Neuschwanstein at the time. On 9 June he was incapacitated, and on 10 June he had the deposition commission arrested in the gatehouse. In expectation of the commission, he alerted the gendarmerie and fire brigades of surrounding places for his protection. A second commission headed by Bernhard von Gudden arrived on the next day, and the King was forced to leave the palace that night. Ludwig was put under the supervision of von Gudden. On 13 June, both died under mysterious circumstances in the shallow shore water of Lake Starnberg near Berg Castle.
The throne hall has got painted in the brightest colors. Whatever looks like gold (and there is a lot not only in the throne hall) is gold, even the golden color on the walls. Ludwig installed one of the first telephones of Bavaria in this castle for internal use, but one line also reached the telegram station in the valley. He also installed an electrical button system run on batteries to call his servants and adjutants. He also built an artificial dripstone cave that he could enter from his bedroom.
Sadly, King Ludwig II did not even live half a year in his castle which was meant to be a refuge for him from the real world. He wanted to live in his fantasy world there. That was the reason why it was never planned to have any guests or events in that bombastic palace. When you go there today it is hard to believe that so much splendor and innovation – that ultimately drove the king to ruin – was only built as a kind of a personal Disneyland for which it even served as the model.
In Love and Light