We left our Alpine valley hotel this morning and headed toward the fairy-tale castle of King Ludwig II (1844-1886), Neuschwanstein. Our bus followed switchback roadways higher and higher into the Alps. We drove into thick mountain mists and between towering pines. The temperature fell to a cool 48°, and it was raining lightly. Everyone was in awe of the mountains around us, we were riding into a dream.
Neuschwanstein castle was the inspiration for the Disney Cinderella castle. We played “Someday My Prince Will Come” as we entered the small town around the castle.
The small town of Hohenschwangau is at the base of the castle hill. We had the privilege of taking a horse-drawn carriage up the castle hill. The carriage drivers were rough looking Bavarian men with their traditional felt hats, but they turned out to be very kind and helped our group get loaded into the carriages.
The castle itself is decorated with paintings of Biblical scenes in the throne room, but there are far more paintings of German heroes of folklore throughout the castle, especially Sigfried, Parsifal, and Lohengrin. Many of the plans for the castle were taken from medieval castles and from the set designs of Christian Jank who worked with Richard Wagner on his opera “Lohengrin.” The castle incorporated state of the art running water and air vents. King Ludwig even had a private toilet in his living quarters.
Though Ludwig II was a favorite of his people, his government officials did not have faith in him. They fought to declare him unfit to rule, and ousted him from power and instated his uncle, Luitpold, to rule Bavaria. Shortly after Ludwig was deposed, he was mysteriously found dead in nearby Lake Starnberg.
Our day at Neuschwanstein Castle was exhilarating, the steep climbs in mountain air were difficult but refreshing! We headed back to our hotel in Stubai and had a fantastic meal prepared by the house chef. Looking forward to the Passion Play in Oberammergau tomorrow!