February 29, 2008

Neuschwanstein Castle

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , at 7:53 am by Jenn

neuschwanstein-castle.jpgOn day four of my trip I visited Neuschwanstein Castle a little over an hour away from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.  The castle was probably my favorite part of my trip to Germany.  The castle was very impressive sitting high up on the hill.  They say that this is the castle that Disney modeled his Sleeping Beauty castle after.

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King Ludwig II was a very interesting man.  I’m looking forward to doing some reading about his life.  He was a handsome man about 6’4 with black hair and blue eyes.  He was adored by princesses from all around and when he was 18 was known as “Prince Charming”.   When he was in his late 20’s they called him “The Fairy Tale King”.  You see, King Ludwig was a fan of the opera’s by Richard Wagner and dedicated his Neuschwanstein Castle totally to him.  The walls and interior pay tribute to Wagner’s operas.

Ludwig became King in 1845 and built 3 castles, but only one was totally finished.   He spent all his money on his castles and had no loves.  By the time he was in his 40’s he was known as “The Crazy King”. 

In fact, he was told that he was not mentally fit to be King and taken to Berg Palace (which I’m assuming is an institution) in Munich.  The very next day he (along with the psychiatrist who committed him were found dead in Lake Starnberg.  There was evidence of a struggle but the details/cause of Ludwig’s death to this day remain a mystery.  Was it suicide?  Was it a heart attack?  No one knows.

We weren’t able to take pictures inside of the castle, but it was truly something to see.  His living quarters, especially the bedroom were MAGNIFICENT!  The woodwork alone took 4 years.  The bed was unbelievable, though I’d hate to be the one who had to dust that thing.  Around his room were paintings of various scenes from Tristan and Isolde.  Having never been married this leads me to believe the rumors about Ludwig and his cousin Sissy were true.  Apparently they were inseparable as children and had secret meetings as adults.  They even had “pet-names” for each other.  Hers for him “Eagle” for he was King of the Mountain – fitting with all his castles and his for her, “Seagull” for her love of the water.  Their meeting place was known as Island of the Roses and it is rumored that they would sit here and gaze at the stars.

Ludwig’s favorite bird, the swan is displayed all over the castle.  Neuschwanstein Castle remains unfinished.  There were plans to build another tower, but all construction in the castle stopped after Ludwig’s death. 

Ironically, Ludwig built these castles to escape Munich and the hectic life there.  He enjoyed the solitude.  When he was pronounced mentally unfit he was taken to Munich and is buried there.   Six weeks after his death the castles were opened to the public for touring and now the places where he went to be alone are seen by millions of visitors each year.

As a tourist I was very lucky.  The weather was warm enough the day I visited that the shuttle buses were running up to the Marienbrücke (Marie’s Bridge).  The views of the castle are the best from this bridge.  The bridge is steel and is located over the Pollät Gorge. 

Hohenschwangau, the family castle is also visible off in the near distance. 

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This castle itself is very impressive and this is where Ludwig spent much time in his youth.

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After the tour we had a little over an hour before the bus left. We walked down from the castle and through the little town. I had the most wonderful donut type things with powdered sugar on them. We (Mirna and Jody – other spouses from the MSG program) had lunch at a little cafe. It was a beautiful day so we ate outside with our coats off. I had a yummy potato soup and Applestrudel for dessert.

On the way back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen we traveled on the Romantic Road and stopped at The Church in the Meadow (Wieskirche) which has an interesting history.

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The church took 9 years (1745-1754) to build and was built in the Bavarian Rococo style with lots of shell ornation. There are 360 angels in the church.   From the outside it doesn’t really look like much, just an old church, but on the inside it is truly breathtaking.  We were lucky that there were no services in session so we were able to take pictures.

There are two churches on the property, the smaller is the original church which was built in 1740 to house the statue of the crying Jesus. 

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This church was quickly outgrown and the new church was constructed.  They say that this statue of Jesus cries real tears.  This church is a very popular pilgrim destination. 

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After leaving the church we stopped by a woodcarvers shop so that we could purchase souvenirs/handcrafted items. 

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