A Rainy Day at Neuschwanstein


For our last planned sightseeing trip, our Plus3 group travelled south into the Alps once again to tour the Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1869, built atop a steep Alpine hill. However, despite our hopes, our trip was dampened my persistent rain and cold temperatures; not optimal for the walk up to the castle. The clouds were low and the fog was thick, making the castle difficult to see from the villages below the hill. The castle’s distinct features emerged from the fog as we approached, revealing the beautiful architecture of the 19th Century structure.

Neuschwanstein was built nearby, but significantly higher, than the Hohenschwangau Castle of his father Maximilian II. Born in the ancient castle, Ludwig II gained a strong liking for the culture of the Middle Ages, appreciating legends and art from the time period. This affinity is visible in Neuschwanstein; the castle boasts fairytale-like towers, buildings, and beautiful murals and mosaics of operas depicting legends from the Middle Ages that Ludwig adored.

While Ludwig was very fond of ancient culture, he also had a strong interest in the new technologies of the late 19th Century. Neuschwanstein was equipped with a telephone, allowing for fast long-distance communication between the castle and other important royal locations. In addition, the castle was equipped with an electric servant calling system. From a control panel inside the castle, servants could determine from which room the King was calling them from based on which light was illuminated. This system took the place of traditional bell and pulley systems, and was a great advancement for the time.

At the time of Ludwig’s mysterious death in 1886, the castle was not finished; the King never saw his castle in its final form. The castle stands as it did when construction was halted following his death, excluding the further modernization undertaken to turn the magnificent castle into a museum. Once a large source of debt for the Wittelsbach family and the State of Bavaria, Neuschwanstein is now a significant source of income for Bavaria, with tourists from all over the world coming to take in the beautiful views of the castle and the Alpine foothills.

The castle is truly a thing of fantasy. It stands out from nearly all European castles based on its lavish exterior and its age; some of its features were not possible with technology from the Middle Ages. It was also unaffected by the bombing of Germany in World War II when the castle was not even a century old, since it and Hohenschwangau were very far from any target of interest for the Allies, which cannot be said about some other castles in Germany. Overall, the trip to the castle was very interesting, offering insight into the life and passions of King Ludwig II, and displaying the wealth and influence of the Wittelsbach family that the castle was built upon.

Leave a Reply