Idyllic. Enchanting. Magic. We are at the Schloss Neuschwanstein, one of the most famous palaces in neo-Gothic style in the world, a tourist destination par excellence of Bavaria. Source of inspiration for many tales of Walt Disney, this spectacular castle, to which are linked stories, mysteries and charm, literally takes your breath away. The location of the castle is incredibly picturesque: at the feet of a mountain, on the edge of the dizzying Pöllat gorge, surrounded by beautiful alpine lakes with crystal clear waters which Alpsee, Schwansee, Bannwaldsee and the largest Forggensee and with beautiful view of the villages of Schwangau and Füssen.
About the palace:
New Swanstone Castle is history and magic at the same time. Commissioned by the visionary Bavarian King Ludwig II, an art and culture-lover, the palace was conceived as a personal retreat and designed as a tribute to the genius of the German composer Richard Wagner, to whom he was bound by a deep friendship (in a letter, the King shares with the musician his enthusiasm for the construction of the new castle: “…the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world…”). Everywhere, the design of the castle pays homage to the German legend of Lohengrin, the „Swan Knight“ son of Parsifal, a famous literary character and major figure of the Arthurian legend dating back to medieval German culture (amongst other things main character of the homonymous play by Wagner). The constant presence of themes drawn from operas by Wagner and references to typical chivalric culture of the Middle Ages we find inside makes New Swanstone Castle a permanent theater dedicated to culture, music and art.
On a sunny autumn day, the colors of the surrounding woods create a truly picturesque frame, so it is definitely worth a stroll through the forest trails around the castle and the underlying Alpsee, really impressive with the imposing snow-capped Alps in the background.
Once at the top, after a fantastic and healthy walk through the woods, breathing the fresh alpine air (the castle can be reached by bus or horse-drawn carriage, but I highly recommend to get to the top on foot to fully appreciate the beauty of the landscape), the vision of the castle is marvellous: the home of the eccentric Bavarian King, firmly perched atop the hill, overlooks the beautiful, lush, green valley below; the sun shines high, the sky is clear as lakes´ water and vegetation reigns until paving the way to the cold Alps.
Once inside (the castle can only be visited within a guided tour – Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office/Tourist-Information in the arrival area where there are parking lots, restaurants, hotels and the Museum dedicated to King Ludwig II) the atmosphere is really fabulous: it soon becomes clear that Ludwig had conceived the residence as a personal refuge, where he could spend his time in peace among books, music and theater (one of the habits of the King was to watch alone theater performances of Wagner operas, which he knew by heart). The interiors are gorgeous, magnificent and striking: particularly fascinating is the cave adjacent Ludwig´s study, created by set designer Dirigl August, which could be lit with colored lights in the past and even had a waterfall! In addition, the sovereign did not lack for nothing: the castle is in fact endowed with all the comforts and technological supplies known in the late nineteenth century, including a complex system of bells for the servitude and several telephone lines, central heating and toilet with running water and automatic drain.
A breathtaking view: the Marienbrücke
Last stop: Marienbrücke. After leaving the castle, proceeding along the path through the woods I get to the Pöllat gorge, where Maximilian II (father of Ludwig II) had built a wooden bridge in 1845, subsequently reinforced by Ludwig with an iron structure and named after Mary Queen of Prussia. The view from here is breathtaking: you can see the castle in all its beauty, set like a gem in the beautiful landscape in autumn colors.
Today the castle is home to many cultural events, including one of international relevance: the „Schlosskonzerte Neuschwanstein“ (www.neuschwanstein-konzerte.de), where every year in September concerts are held in the picturesque Sängersaal (Singers‘ Hall): totally decked up, the castle welcomes culture and art lovers from all over the world.
Visiting the „Fairytale Castle“ was a really exciting experience for me, a chance to breathe the air of authentic German Romanticism and to enjoy a day between art and culture, all in a landscape nothing short of enchanting.
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