Visiting Neuschwanstein

Neuschwanstein

Written about our 2 separate visits to Neuschwanstein.

After a little bit of a slow start the morning after Munich, we hit the road and drove south about 2 hours to Schwangau, Germany.  This is the site of 2 castles, Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau.  Neuschwanstein was built in the 1800’s by King Ludwig II of Bavaria (before Germany was a country).  Hohenschwangau was his family’s summer hunting “cabin” and where he spent time growing up.  When we pulled into town, I was surprised that there was actually a little town there.  I expected it to be castles and a ticket booth.  The town was very cute, a few hotels, shops, and restaurants set in between the 2 castles, a lake, and the Alps.  Not too shabby.

We bought tickets to tour both castles.  You start with Hohenschwangau and then trek over to Neuschwanstein.  Although not the most exhilarating of tours, I’m glad we went to Hohenschwangau because it gave a lot of the family history, and information about King Ludwig.  It made it easier for me to put the pieces together and get a clearer picture of the history.  One thing I learned was the word schwan means swan.  There are decorative swans all over both castles, the town was named Schwangau because of all the swans that were in the area.

Hiking up to Hohenschwangau.
It’s a pretty nice summer cabin!

View of the mountains from Hohenschwangau

I love the blue and white striped blinds, so pretty!
You can’t take pictures inside, so here we are hiking down from Hohenschwangau and over to Neuschwanstein.

To get from one castle to the other, there is some significant walking involved.  Note to self: wear comfy walking shoes next time!  There are other options to get up to Neuschwanstein like taking a bus or a horse-drawn carriage.  However they both cost money and the line for the carriage was really long!  The walk is totally doable but I wish I had worn different shoes and brought bottled water with me.  The only water is from tourist trap shops that make you pay 2.50 Euro for a bottle, that’s over $3!

We made it!
This is Mary’s bridge or Marienbrucke, it’s also a little bit of a hike to get to, but has great views of the castle.

This castle was Walt Disney’s inspiration for his castles at Disneyland and Disneyworld.  What’s really interesting about this castle to me, was the time it was built.  You might think it was built way back in the middle ages, but it construction started around 1869.  That’s much more recent, it was after we had just finished the civil war, and were expanding westward.  Over in Europe, Germany still had Kings building castles!  The fact that it’s so different from our history makes it that much more interesting!  Unfortunately Ludwig died before the castle was completed.  It was opened as a museum shortly after his death.

 Again, no pictures inside.  However, I can assure you that the inside is very impressive.  The bedroom furniture is carved so intricately, there are beautiful mosaic floors, a huge chandelier in the throne room, and even a cave!  Ludwig had an artificial cave constructed in a hallway.  It really is like something out of an amusement park!  I think maybe Ludwig was ahead of his time, I mean who thinks of putting a cave in their house back in those days?!  Now it’s not that unusual in some of the more extravagant homes in the U.S.  But perhaps this is also why he was known as “Mad” King Ludwig.

View of the castle from Mary’s bridge, absolutely stunning

Waterfalls under the bridge, the water is so clear, that in places where it’s more still, you can barely tell there is water there at all.  P.S. Mary’s bridge is a little scary if you have a fear of heights, the floor is not as sturdy as you might hope.
Hiking down from a successful day!

This was pretty much the end of the big trip. We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends that made the time to come visit us.  I know we had such a great time, and loved being able to host and travel with everyone!  Who’s next?? 🙂

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We visited Neuschwanstein 2 years later with my mom, sister, and daughter who had since been born.  Here’s a couple photos from that visit:

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No more scaffolding!

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A look at Marienbrucke, and apparently I did not listen to my own advice to wear comfortable shoes!

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A beautiful view of Hohenschwangau.

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Amazing how different the water looked this visit vs. the first visit.

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