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Neuschwanstein

Neuschwanstein, New Swan Castle, looks like a medieval castle built from the fantasy of an eight-year-old. The first part is not true as the castle was built between 1869 and 1886 but it was born from the head of a child. It was built by and for Ludwig II, King of Bavaria. Ludwig was known, probably not affectionately, as Mad King Ludwig.

When Ludwig was a boy, he lived down the hill in another castle, Hohenschwangau, presumably with his parents. He would gaze out the window toward the site where he wanted to build the 19th century version of Neverland and when he grew up, in years if not in maturity, he had an artist draw what was in his head. Then he hired an architect to make this a reality.

Ludwig became king in 1863 at the age of 18. He wasnít really too interested in the king business and when it came to politics, he consistently deferred either to the King of Austria or (and Iím not making this up, Philadelphians) the King of Prussia. Mostly he went hunting and dreamed about his castle on the hill. Construction started on the castle in 1869 and after 17 years, enough work was done on it that Ludwig could finally move in. He lived there less than six months when he was declared mentally unfit to be King of Bavaria and was removed from Neuschwanstein. Two days later, both he and the psychiatrist who declared him mentally unfit were found swimming with the fishes in a nearby lake and itís never been determined if was murder, suicide, or both, or on whose part.

Construction on the castle stopped immediately and as big as it is, after 17 years of construction, only 14 rooms are complete. Within six weeks of his death, people like me were lining up to pay to enter and see this place. The tour through it takes only 30 minutes and they throw out a lot of facts. One that really stood out was about the bedroom. Above the bed are carvings of different European castles and lots of other things. The carvings are all very detailed and intricate and itís quite obvious that it took much time and skill to do this work. How much time and skill? The tour guide said that it took 61 people a year and a half. The website said it took 14 people four and a half years. Either way, thatís an awful lot of man-years of work for a bedroom. This guy must have thought he was Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise, or that gargoyle-faced, ugly British babe, Victoria Beckham!

See all my pictures of Neuschwanstein.

 

© 2008 Rick Wexler   last updated February 21, 2008