Perhaps the most recognized castle in the world, the Neuschwanstein Castle sculpts the landscape of Bavaria, Germany with romance, art, and a vision come true. King Ludwig II brought a fairy tale to life with the construction of Neuschwanstein Castle. Today the castle hosts up to 6,000 visitors per day during the high season and is a world-renowned symbol of romanticism.
The History of the Neuschwanstein Castle
Crown Prince Ludwig II was born in 1845 and spent every summer of his childhood in the Bavarian Alpine landscape. His father had very recently built a new castle, Hohenschwangau, on the ruins of the original Schwanstein Castle, the summer home of his childhood. Schwanstein Castle was overlooked by two other castle ruins, Vorderhohenschwangau and Hohenschwangau. By the tender age of 14, Ludwig II was so familiar with the ruins and landscape that he began sketching the area. These sketches would be the first blueprints to one of the most famous castles in the world.
Ludwig’s father adored the Middle Ages and the chivalry based stories of knights and ladies. He decorated every surface in Hohenschwangau with murals and art. These details and stories allowed Ludwig’s imagination to run wild and he would later put it to the test with the construction of Neuschwanstein. In September of 1869, construction began on the expansive wilderness retreat. Young Ludwig, now aged 24, was a reclusive young king. He went into great debt to remove himself from the bustle of Munich.
After spending over 14 million marks to build his dream palace, Ludwig II would only spend 11 nights inside its thick walls. Just 15 years after construction began, and less than two weeks after it was completed, the King died at the young age of 39. He named his palatial home New Hohenschwangau. The name would be changed upon his death to Neuschwanstein Castle and then opened to the public.
Planning Your Trip to Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein Castle and its neighbor, Hohenschwangau, share the same accessway. Both are located deep in the Bavarian landscape and require a rental car or planned tour company to access. As soon as you start planning your trip, you need to book sleeping accommodations. Fussen is the nearest village with these accommodations and they are reasonably priced given the distance to the castles.
The morning of your tour you will arrive at a parking lot entrance that presents with a “downtown Disney” feel. The street giving access to both castles is lined with restaurants and high-end shops. If you did not prebook your castle tickets then you will need to jump in line at the ticket building. This line is long and could take a few hours to get through.
You will want a full day to tour both houses. It is highly recommended to start with Hohenschwanstein. It will give a much deeper understanding of the design and decor that went into Neuschwanstein. It is also important to leave time to tour the museum and to hike through to the bridges, waterfalls, and views offered by the landscape. Prepare for a very full day, but one you will never forget.
With three lakes, a waterfall, two substantial hikes (accessible), and a long climb to the entrance of Neuschwanstein Castle, you need to be prepared with good quality shoes, snacks, and water. (You could, of course, pay to ride a carriage to the entrance.) Because of its location, the weather is not usually hot, but rain is common. A poncho would be a nice addition to your day pack.
Worldschooling Activities for Neuschwanstein Castle
Here are some activities we love that can be paired with your worldschooling or homeschooling curriculum when you visit Neuschwanstein Castle.
Once in a Lifetime Visit
Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau may be a once in a lifetime experience for many people. With that mindset, it is easy to get wrapped up in the shops and trinket stores. Do yourself a favor and order different foods off of the restaurant menus. Hike to get to the best views. Pay extra for a more in-depth tour option. The memories and the view will not fade and those are the areas worth spending more money and time.
Neuschwanstein is a fairytale book experience. It is easy to see the inspiration that Walt Disney saw when he was designing Cinderella’s Castle. There is nothing better than seeing it for yourself though. So go, get out there, and have a wonderful time.
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Photo Credits: Lydia Bradbury