Saturday, May 21, 2011

Neuschwanstein A Fairy Tale Castle

             Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most popular palaces of Germany, situated in southwest Bavaria, near the town of Fussen. Neuschwanstein literally means “New Swan Castle” referencing of “the Swan Knight” one of the Wagner’s characters. 

Though it looks medieval, it was actually built in the late 1800's equipped inside with state of the art technology at that time. It is located in the Alps in Bavaria, in a magnificent landscape, on the top of a hill. Neuschwanstein overlooks the Hohenschwangau valley.
The castle has a very beautiful inner garden surrounded by a walled courtyard, even has an artificial cave. Neuschwanstein's interior is as beautiful as its outside.Its fabulous mountain setting and its many towers and turrets make it everyone's dream of a "fairy tale castle". The designer of the castle was Christian Jank who was not even an architect but a theatrical designer. 

Much of the appeal of Neuschwanstein Castle comes from the history of its owner, King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Ludwig was born in 1845, the son of King Maximilian II. He was a quiet child and enjoyed building things with blocks. When he was just 18, his father died and Ludwig became King of Bavaria. He was still quite shy and had no desire to be King. . His main interests were the music of Richard Wagner and architecture. 

Ludwig was quite eccentric - he often slept during the day and woke at night, insisting that his servants take him on sleigh rides through the countryside in the middle of the night. He ate alone, but requested his table be set for four, because he invited imaginary guests to dinner. Once he had his favorite horse dine with him! Ludwig was also known to make faces at himself in mirrors, put tape on a servant's head so his brains would not fall out, and request private performances of Wagner's operas because he didn't want the public staring at him during a public performance. 

In 1886, when he was just 40, Ludwig's cabinet members decided they had put up with his eccentricities long enough, and they arranged for a doctor to declare him insane. He was arrested at Neuschwanstein Castle and died mysteriously a few days later while taking a walk with his doctor. Both men were found drowned in a shallow lake nearby. The official theory is that Ludwig strangled the doctor and then drowned himself, but to this day no one knows for sure. 

Inspired by German legends and the music of Wagner, King Ludwig II planned a fantasy castle from which he could rule his own independent kingdom. Contrary to popular belief, the king financed all his building projects from his own funds and not from the state treasury. Most rooms of the castle were inspired by Wagner's operas. Despite of this, Wagner never visited the castle, as he died before its completion. Ludiwg too slept only 11 nights in the castle. 

The fairytale look of the Neuschwanstein castle inspired Walt Disney to create the Magic Kingdom Disney Land and Disney World. Today, Neuschwanstein is the most visited castle in Germany, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
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