Neuschwanstein Castle – Straight out of a Fairy tale, this 19th century Romanesque Revival Castle, inspired by Opera and the Middle Ages, continues to Impress Millions

Atop a craggy hill overlooking the hamlet of Hohenschwangau, not far from Fussen in the southern area of Bavaria, Germany, lies Neuschwanstein Castle, a towering Medieval inspired 19th century Romanesque ‘Revival’ castle (translated as New Swanstone Castle).

Bavarian King Ludwig II conceived and commissioned the palace (in idea, not design). Ludwig II sought a getaway for himself, but there was another reason for building the palace: Ludwig wanted to pay tribute to his idol, Richard Wagner.

Castle Neuschwanstein at Schwangau, Bavaria, Germany. Photo Credit

In terms of the palace’s commissioning, one remarkable point jumps out: Ludwig did not want to burden his subjects with the palace’s building expenditures and paid the whole sum. He accomplished this by either his money or considerable borrowing, a feat that is extremely unique in the annals of Kings and Queens.

Corridor. Photo Credit

The nineteenth century was an intriguing period in castle building since there was a rapidly developing tendency of constructing or remodeling castles to make them even more gorgeous. This completely altered the common meaning of castle construction, since before castles were largely erected as a sturdy fortification, either on the outside of towns or within cities, to guard against invading armies.

However, in the nineteenth century, castle construction took a dramatic turn, and a more ‘romantic’ spirit was brought to bear on the architecture of castles in order to make them more visually appealing. Several castle construction projects identical to Neuschwanstein Castle were conducted around Germany, including Lichtenstein Castle, Hohenschwangau Castle, and Hohenzollern Castle. This was in addition to a number of other structures built along the Rhine. One such structure is Stolzenfels Castle.

Dining room. Photo Credit
Neuschwanstein Castle at sunset Photo Credit

After his grandfather, King Ludwig I, died in February 1868, Ludwig II inherited large monies that had previously been spent on the apanage of the abdicated Ludwig I.

This offered King Ludwig II with an ideal chance to seriously consider the construction of his own themed castle, close to his house but remote from Munich, the Bavarian capital. A spot where he might escape and live out his Middle Ages love fancies.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria. Photo Credit
Neuschwanstein under construction. Photo Credit

The idea for Neuschwanstein Castle stemmed from a couple of trips taken by Ludwig II before to ordering the project. The first was in May 1867, when he went to the restored Warburg in Eisenach, and the second was a few months later when he went to the Chateau de Pierrefonds. The ruins of the chateau were turned into a historic and attractive mansion by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.

What Ludwig II witnessed during these two journeys was entirely unique to him: his viewpoint on the concept of rebuilding was genuinely wonderful. With his romantic view of the Middle Ages and strong respect for Richard Wagner’s operas, he envisaged a marriage of his two primary obsessions in the shapes of these castles. He desired to have his desires fulfilled in his own country and for his own purposes.

The remains of the twin medieval castles were totally dismantled, and the ancient keep had to be fully blown up as a preliminary step toward the construction of the new palace. The foundation stone for the new castle was placed on September 5, 1869, and the castle cellar was finished three years later.

Palace roof. Photo Credit
Study room Photo Credit

In 1876, a substantial section of the first floor and gatehouse were nearly finished. By 1882, the first section was ready for the King to move in and supervise the construction work himself.

In 1874, Eduard Riedel handed over control of all civil works to Georg Von Dollmann. The monarch was allowed to move into the new castle in 1884, even though the fact that the Palas topping out ceremony had already occurred in 1880.

Throne Hall detail Photo Credit
Throne Hall. Photo Credit

King Ludwig made certain that the construction of Neuschwanstein Castle was not a secret. For over two decades, the Neuschwanstein Castle building site was regarded as the region’s primary job. By 1880, the castle employed about 200 people, not including the numerous suppliers and other people who were indirectly involved in its development.

King Ludwig would frequently visit the castle, setting a deadline for particular parts of the castle to be completed soon. In such circumstances, more workers would be hired, bringing the total number of active laborers to above 300. To fulfill the king’s deadlines, these employees frequently labored in tight shifts and at night under the illumination of lamps.

View from location of unrealized chapel along upper courtyard level Photo Credit
View from south-east, palace on the left. Photo Credit

In 1884, King Ludwig II moved into his dream palace, and a year later invited his mother, Marie, to come to celebrate her 60th birthday. Despite its vastness, Neuschwanstein Castle could only accommodate the King’s dwelling plus apartments for the King’s many staff. Neuschwanstein Castle was built as a type of theatrical house for the monarch, rather than a normal royal castle with extensive courts and guest chambers.

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