When you go to Disneyland and behold the beautiful castle there is an air of speechlessness that surrounds you. And when the fireworks go off, the place is filled with collecting “wows”. The castle is vast and has an overwhelming presence. But there is a castle that is nestled in the heart of the Bavarian Alps that puts that it to shame. The Neuschwanstein castle is the one that inspired that iconic Disney castle that we know and love. It’s truly a spectacular sight to behold with its dramatic towers and beautiful surroundings and is an incredibly popular tourist destination.
The castle is one that is shrouded in fairy tales and story and seems almost too fantastical to be real. And yet, it very much is real and is the heart and soul of one certain king whose story is an interesting one.
The facts behind this castle are almost as interesting as the beautifully designed masterpiece itself. Let me just say that if you put visiting this castle on your bucket list and actually get to go see it in person, you will by no means be disappointed. Neuschwanstein is my favorite caste in the entire world and I’m sure that it is about to be at least one of the top of yours once you read more about it.
25 The castle was built for the Fairy Tale King
King Ludwig II was a reclusive and eccentric king. He wanted to keep to himself and had particular oddities about him. Because of his odd behavior, he was known as the fairytale king, which ended up being quite fitting because he commissioned the creation of the castle that inspired Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty’s castles. Just looking at the castle makes you feel like you’ve traveled through space and time and have landed right in front of a storybook castle that would host a princess and maybe an evil queen.
24 He only spent 11 nights there
Despite the fact that this castle was such a big part of his life, Ludwig actually only ended up spending a total of 11 nights in the castle. It was not by choice that he spent such a small amount of time there. King Ludwig II unfortunately passed away before getting to enjoy the beautiful legacy that he left behind. Although it’s quite sad that he never got to fully enjoy it, he has left behind something so beautiful and inspiring that in a way, Ludwig will never truly and fully be gone from this world.
23 The castle was not designed by an architect
Architects have been responsible for the most insanely beautiful buildings around the globe, but this gorgeous castle was not. Christian Jank was the designer of this castle and he was actually a theatrical designer. Of course when you take a look at the castle, it is absolutely no surprise. The castle’s design is dramatic and exaggerated, and is just the thing you would expect from a theatrical designer. I don’t think any architect could have done a better job than Christian.
22 It took way longer than expected to complete
The castle was estimated to take 3 years to complete. Unfortunately building a giant theatrical castle on top of a precarious mountain side is not a 3 year job, especially in those days. The castle’s construction started in 1869 and Ludwig moved into the castle in 1884, 12 years later. But the catch is that the castle still wasn’t even complete when he moved in and as we mentioned earlier, once he moved in, he only spent 11 nights there.
21 The castle was built to over compensate
King Ludwig II basically built this castle as a way to remind people that he was royalty. There was no strategic advantage to building the castle, but King Ludwig II had just lost his sovereign power to Prussia. He was even forced to accept an alliance which would remove his control of his army if a war were to happen, which basically meant that he had a title and nothing to show for it. So, King Ludwig II did what any man with wealth and a hurt ego would do, and he built this stunning masterpiece.
20 The castle was opened to the public because of money issues
King Ludwig II sunk so much time and money into the castle that when he passed away, he actually passed away with incredible debt left behind. The only solution to the mass amount of debt was to turn the castle into a museum and open it to the public to view in order to gain back that money. Of course people would have been itching to see the inside of this beautiful castle that took 12 years to build, so they opened the castle just 7 weeks after the king passed away.
19 The location is amazing
The castle is located in Bavaria, Germany. It sits atop a mountain and has the most gorgeous views. Interestingly, even though it inspired the castle that you can see in Disneyland, the Neuschwanstein castle is located over 350 miles away from the closest Disneyland, which can be found in Paris. The castle in Disneyland is spectacular to behold, but it does not even hold a candle to seeing the real castle that inspired it up close and in person.
18 The woodwork in the bedroom was insanely intricate
To give an idea of the intricacy and detail that this castle had, you need to know about the bedroom. The bedroom itself had 14 carpenters working on it. And they worked on the woodwork inside of it for four years. This just highlights the absurdity of the three year total timeline that was originally given by the king. His idea and vision simply was not possible within the time frame he wanted. But the end result was absolutely breathtaking.
17 It was almost one of the New Seven Wonders of the World
The Neuschwanstein castle is one of the most iconic castles in the world. It is so popular and so extravagant that it was actually a finalist out of all of the choices in the decision of picking the New Seven Wonders of the World. Can you imagine? What an honor. It’s easy to see why it is such a popular tourist destination and is on so many people’s bucket lists for places that they want to see before the end of their lives.
16 Even the walls are filled with stories and tales
This fairy tale castle from the “fairy tale king” actually gets another layer of epic tales woven into its making. The artwork that adorns the castle walls were inspired by Richard Wagner’s operas. His operas are based on medieval stories and are filled with images of love, guilt, and salvation. King Ludwig II actually dedicated the castle to Richard Wagner, as he was such a fan of the man’s work and they had actually even become good friends.
15 It was technologically advanced
The castle was inspired by medieval architecture, but was actually very advanced in its technologies of the time. The epic castle had running water through the entire castle. There was even hot and cold water in the kitchen. There was a bell system for the servants that was actually electric. The castle even had a telephone and a lift, and if that wasn’t enough, it was even heated! Of course in this day and age, that is nothing, but back then this was absolutely unheard of.
14 Legoland built a replica
There is a Legoland in Günzburg. This Legoland features a giant replica of the Neuschwanstein castle. The detail put into it was incredible and it took them over 300,000 LEGO bricks to complete the stunning castle. Imagine the time it would take to recreate such an extravagant and stunning castle that the Neuschwanstein is. But of course people who see this beautiful replica are only getting a fraction of the actual awe that the real life castle inspires when you behold it.
13 It was featured in movies
They say that art inspires art and we already know that the Neuschwanstein castle inspired the Sleeping Beauty and the Cinderella castle from Disney, but did you know that it was also an inspiration in movies? Chitty Chitty Bang Bang featured the stunning castle, as well as The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. Excuse me as I run back to rewatch these so that I can pick out the castle and admire it again, because this castle is just too awesome.
12 It is the most photographed building
The Neuschwanstein castle is the most photographed building in the entire country. It’s even one of the most popular tourist attractions in Germany. It draws people in with its fairy tale mystique and its theatrical presence. The amazingly breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes add to the epic air that this castle gives off. You cannot help but want to take a picture (or a few dozen) of it to try and capture even just a glimpse of the awe-inspiring elegance that this castle portrays as you stand before it.
11 The castle is expensive to maintain
It’s lucky that the castle is such a hot tourist attraction because it costs the state of Bavaria over 14.5 million euros to maintain each year. The reason why it is so costly is because it needs continuous work to keep it preserved in its current state. The mountains are faced with harsh climates and the foundation is always at risk of causing parts of the castle to fall down the mountainside, so the cliffs are continuously being secured and stabilized.
10 It’s still not technically finished
Despite all of the hard work, and King Ludwig II’s demands of people working day and night, and the preposterous amount of people who worked on the castle, and the 12 years that went into building the beautiful castle, only 14 rooms of it are actually finished. The king’s beautiful and ornate bedroom is finished, the throne room is finished, the Singer’s call is also finished, and there is also a cave-like grotto that is completed. So much of the beautiful castle was left unfinished, sadly.
9 The throne room was throneless
Since this castle was compensating for the fact that Ludwig was technically only a royal by title, the Throne Room had extra care taken to make it absolutely spectacular to behold. It held a 13 foot chandelier, an awe-inspiring elaborate floor mosaic, and a painted cupola. But the most ironic part of it all is that the throne room never had a throne, which is incredible imagery for the powerless king who commissioned such a fantastical castle to prove his royal worth.
8 There is a secret to all of the great photos of the castle
If you’re ever wondering how so many people get such stunning pictures of the castle from far up high, then fear not because I wondered the same thing. So it turns out that the Marienbrücke bridge is where all of those iconic pictures come from. It’s a bridge that hangs over a waterfall and looks across the castle. There are beautiful trails up there and around the castle grounds which give you breathtaking views of the stunning Alps.
7 You can’t take pictures inside the castle
Anyone who has done a lot of traveling will not be surprised by this, but there are absolutely no photographs permitted to be taken within the castle. This is despite the fact that the Neuschwanstein castle is the most photographed building in the entirety of Germany. So when you go, make sure to take a crazy amount of photographs outside. Because pics or it didn’t happen, right? When you head inside the castle, keep the camera away and just enjoy the beauty before you.
6 The castle was on a coin
It takes a lot to appear on a coin (unless you’re in Canada and are any kind of wildlife). Being part of actual currency is an honor and is a way of being preserved in the history of that country for all the rest of the years to come. The Neuschwanstein castle was honored with that prestige in 2012 when it was the design for the €2 commemorative coin. I wonder if King Ludwig II had any idea of the lasting grandeur that his stunning castle would have so many years later.
5 The castle’s name had a deep significance to the king
The name of the castle, Neuschwanstein, means “New Swan Song”. This is another reference to one of Richard Wagner’s operas, “The Swan Knight.” This once again brings around the fairy tale aspect of the castle. The opera had three central characters that were important to King Ludwig II. The first character was a pet called Tannhäuser. The second figure was the 'Grail King' named Parzival. Lastly the character was called Lohengrin the 'Swan Knight' and was the king’s son. Which is fitting because Neuschwanstein, or the “New Swan Song”, is the king’s legacy, and so in some way is kind of like a child in that sense.
4 The castle was supposed to be a hideout
Even though the castle was made to showcase the king’s royalty, Neuschwanstein was actually built deep in the countryside to be a retreat for the king. As mentioned earlier, the king was a recluse. He wanted to be away from people and prying eyes and be secluded in the beautiful castle that he envisioned. In a display of absolute irony, the castle built for a recluse gets more than 1.4 million visitors each year. In the summer months, there are around 6000 people per day that pass through the castle.
3 It was based off the king’s childhood castle
King Ludwig II actually spent his childhood in a smaller castle that was close to where Neuschwanstein was created. That castle was called Hohenschwangau. That castle also had paintings that depicted the stories in Richard Wagner’s operas. Neuschwanstein was very much supposed to be a recreation of Hohenschwangau which shows that it was meant to be a comforting place for the king, which makes sense since it was a retreat for him to escape the people. Side note, I wish I had a childhood castle to base things off of.
2 It’s best to not go in the summer
Even though you’re more likely to see stunning pictures of the castle in the summertime, the best time to actually visit is in the winter. The snow-covered alps are absolutely breathtaking, and it won’t be nearly as busy, which also means that you will not be fighting against unaware people walking in front of your perfect shot. It also means less crowds and that you’ll get to experience the castle with more of a sense of the feel that King Ludwig II was going for when he made it to be a retreat for himself.
1 The king was absurdly involved
The king was very particular and was involved in the building of the castle. Usually a king would approve a concept and the builders and designers would go to work, making the dream a reality. King Ludwig II, however, did not go for this approach. He required personal approval for each and every draft along the way. He was so involved that people do consider the castle to be his creation, rather than the creation of the designers and workers involved.
(Sources: neuschwanstein.de, neuschwansteincastle.net, travelandleisure.com, schloesser.bayern.de)