Last summer it was Swan Lake . This summer it was the Schloss Neuschwanstein.

Directly translated Neuschwanstein means “new swan stone” and is basically the name of the special kind of limestone that makes up the castle’s facade. Perched high on a cliff in Bavaria, this castle, built for King Ludwig II (also known as Mad King Ludwig poor man) in the late 19th century, was truly a case of fantasy made flesh or fantasy given form. Small wonder then that Disney chose it to be the model for its iconic Sleeping Beauty castle, now world-famous (along with Mickey’s ears) as the symbol of Disneyland.

My impressions of the castle – well, it is hokey but tragic at the same time. There is after all something quite sad about a king who was permanently depressed – not unlike his friend (and perhaps lover say some) the Princess Sisi of Austria (with whom I met again after two years) – and had an entire castle built as an exercise in alleviating this depression, only to die within 6 weeks of moving into it. And the death was tragic too – confined or deposed as mentally ill,  and arrested and moved to a castle in Munich, he was found the very next day, mysteriously drowned along with the doctor who had declared him insane. The castle’s decor with images of Lohengrin aplenty as well an artificial venetian grotto within certainly point to his eccentricity (and are part of the reason for me thinking the castle hokey) but madness? Need more info.Meanwhile some more images of the schloss:

Meanwhile, the views from the castle, of the Tyrolean Alps, of a lake and water falls, are breathtaking indeed. There is an old footbridge over a very steep waterfall, which was a thrill to peer from. And while Neuschwanstein flies high with the clouds, closer down to earth is a another beautiful castle, Hohenschwangau, where people, including Ludwig as a young man, actually lived. With no time to get into both castles (as it was we only made the last bus back into town (Fussen) from where we caught the last train out) I could only get pictures from the outside.

But really, having been to various castles now, I must say the exteriors that are more interesting…Maybe the German Romantics (I’m thinking of Heidelberg and Schwetszingen) had the right idea when they built ruins on the grounds of their castles.

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