Saturday, August 29, 2015

Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria

Scott and I in front of the iconic castle

Scott looking handsome here too

A view of the Marien's bridge - looks precarious doesn't it.

The road up to Neuschwanstein

On this view taken on the road you can see 2 of the lakes

A close up of Hohenschwangau Castle

Neuschwanstein from the bridge

Looking down from the bridge - that's it's shadow below

The bridge was so crowded and rickety - rather scary in fact

Panorama from Neuschwanstein over to Hohenschwangau and the village of the same name.
And now for something entirely different! No city this time but a trip to the countryside to see two famous castles. The first, Neuschwanstein, is a part of popular culture now. Copied by Walt Disney as the perfect example of a castle and the center of Fantasy World at his parks, it was built by "mad" Ludwig II as his retreat and homage to Richard Wagner, the composer. Sometimes called the "Swan King" (the "schwan" in both castle names means swan in German) he succeeded to the throne at 18 and spent much of his family's and royal revenues (not state funds) on beautiful extravagant artistic and architectural projects. This was probably the reason, along with that fact he was a secret homosexual and was unlikely to begat an heir, he was declared insane, deposed and almost immediately died at 41 under mysterious circumstances ("drowned" in waist high water in a lake with no water found in his lungs and injuries to the head and shoulders). Altogether a sad and romantic story.
 Neuschwanstein is a Romanesque Revival design and picturesquely sited on a promontory set off by higher mountains and the lake below. In 1884 the King moved in. The interior is intimate and warm with many early modern conveniences such as central heat, warm running water, flushing toilets and telephones. To say the least this was unusual in 1884! The walls are adorned by colorful and lovely murals representing the stories from Wagner's operas and German tales. Only 15 of the 200 interior rooms were finished by his death and right after that the castle was opened to the public.
 We rented a car and drove down early in the morning. Tickets to both castles were reserved online 5 months before - if you don't there is an endless line to purchase them there. When we arrived the whole area was packed with tourists; it was hard to find a parking space. After a nice lunch on a restaurant terrace, we walked up to Neuschwantein along a narrow road shared only by the horse drawn carriages. The buses took a different route. It was a lovely walk of about 40 minutes, all up hill. You are given entrance times and then have a guided tour, in our case in English. I loved the place! It's the first palace/castle I've ever been in that I could imagine living in. Afterwards we walked up to the fantastic overlook on the Marienbrucke (Marie's Bridge) and took panorama pictures of the castle. There are lots of beautiful walking paths in this area along with lovely lakes. We wished we had a week to spend here!

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