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This castle was conceived by a set designer instead of an architect, thanks to King Ludwig II's deep love of the theater. The castle soars from its mountainside like a stage creation—it should hardly come as a surprise that Walt Disney took it as the model for his castle in the movie Sleeping Beauty and later for the Disneyland castle itself. The life of this spectacular castle's king reads like one of the great Gothic mysteries of the 19th century, and the castle symbolizes that life. Yet during the 17 years from the start of Schloss Neuschwanstein's construction until King Ludwig's death, the king spent less than six months in the country residence, and the interior was never finished. The Byzantine-style throne room is without a throne; Ludwig died before one could be installed. However, the walls of the rooms leading to Ludwig's bedroom are painted with murals depicting characters from Wagner's operas—Siegfried and the Nibelungen, Lohengrin, Tristan, and others. Ludwig's bed and its canopy are made of intricately carved oak. A small corridor behind the bedroom was styled as a ghostly grotto, reminiscent of Wagner's Tannhäuser. On the walls outside the castle's gift shop are plans and photos of the castle's construction. There are some spectacular walks around the castle. The delicate Marienbrücke (Mary's Bridge) is spun like a medieval maiden's hair across a deep, narrow gorge. From this vantage point there are giddy views of the castle and the great Upper Bavarian Plain beyond.
Tickets need to be purchased at the ticket center in the village of Hohenschwangau, so be sure to stop there before heading to the castle. To reach Neuschwanstein from the ticket center below, take one of the clearly marked paths (about a 40-minute uphill walk) or one of the horse-drawn carriages that leave from Hotel Müller (uphill €6, downhill €3). A shuttle bus leaves from the Hotel Lisl (uphill €1.80, downhill €1) and takes you halfway up the hill past an outlook called Aussichtspunkt Jugend to a spot just above the castle. From there it's a steep 10-minute downhill walk to the castle (not recommended for those with mobility problems) or a 5-minute uphill walk to the Marienbrücke.
Castle concerts. Castle concerts are held in September in the gaily decorated minstrels' hall of the Neuschwanstein Castle. Tickets are hard to come by as performers generally include world-famous classical singers and orchestras and the concerts are considered a cultural highlight of the area. Tickets go on sale in early February for the coming September, so plan ahead to snag one of the coveted tickets! 08362/819-831.
- Address: Neuschwansteinstr. 20, Hohenschwangau, 87645 | Map It
- Phone: 08362/930-830
- Cost: €12, including guided tour; combined ticket for Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau €21.50
- Hours: Apr.--Sept., daily 8--5; Oct.--Mar., daily 9--3
- Website: www.neuschwanstein.de
- Location: Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein
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