Mad King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein Castle

Schloss Neuschwanstein Castle Bavaria Germany

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” ~Saint Augustine of Hippo

King Ludwig II of Bavaria, better known as ‘Mad King Ludwig’, had a certain love for elaborate fairy-tale castles. Schloss Neuschwanstein (Neuschwanstein Castle) is his Romanesque Revival palace on a rock ledge above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany.

“It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable.” —Ludwig II, Letter to Richard Wagner, May 1868

Neuschwanstein was built during the 19th century, in a time when castles were no longer necessary for strategical and defensive purposes. Despite its romanticized medieval design, Ludwig had installed the newest technological comforts of his time. In contrast to the medieval castles it was modeled after, Neuschwanstein is equipped with running water, flushing toilets, hot water in the kitchen and baths, and a central heating system. The dining room is serviced by an elevator from the kitchen three stories below. Ludwig even made sure the castle was connected to telephone lines.

While there is a magnificent throne room, there is no actual throne, since the room was not completed before Ludwig’s death.

Neuschwanstein Castle is one of he most popular destinations in the world, and despite the fact that photographs are not allowed inside the castle, it is the most photographed building in Germany. The castle has been used in films such as “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm” and “Spaceballs”, as well as the video game “The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery”. Additionally, the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland is modeled after Neuschwanstein.

Although construction took nearly 17 years, King Ludwig only slept in the castle 11 nights. On June 13, 1886 he died under mysterious circumstances in the shallow shore water of Lake Starnberg near Berg Castle. The death was officially declared a suicide, yet many believe that Ludwig was murdered – most likely on the orders of the Bavarian government who had declared that Ludwig was mad and incapable of ruling only three days earlier.

At the time of King Ludwig’s death, the palace was far from complete. Given that Ludwig built Neuschwanstein Castle as a place where he could get away from the public, he would have shuddered at the notion that just weeks after his death in 1886, his palace was opened up as a public museum.

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