I was so sad this morning to wake to a grey, chilly, rainy day. Again we had a wonderful and varied breakfast at our hotel in Füssen and then had to rethink our dress for the day. I pulled out my Clemson National Championship shirt and raincoat and we headed for Neuschwanstein Castle. This was on my must do list for this trip and I was determined not to let the weather dampen my spirit. The lady at the ticket window told me that it was a beautiful day to visit King Lugwig II ‘s Castle!! We drove about 3 miles, parked and took a tour bus(all Asians except 7 of us) up a steep winding road to a fairytale setting. Our first view of King Ludwig II’s Neuschwanstein Castle was from the viewing bridge about 1/2 mile away and it was amazing. The bridge, Marienbrücke (Marie's Bridge, or Pöllatbrücke), is across the Pöllat Gorge directly behind and directly visible from Neuschwanstein Castle. The bridge was named by Ludwig II of Bavaria after his mother, Marie of Prussia.
The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a private retreat and as an inhabitable theatrical setting paying homage to Richard Wagner whose operas the king enjoyed. Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, rather than Bavarian public funds. The king saw the buildings as representatives of a romantic interpretation of the Middle Ages, as well as the musical mythology of his friend Wagner, whose operas Tannhäuser and Lohengrin had made a lasting impression on him. The castle was intended as a home for the king, until he died in 1886. It was opened to the public shortly after his death. Since then more than 61 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle. More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with as many as 6,000 per day in the summer.
When construction of the castle began in 1869, King Ludwig II of Bavaria estimated that building would take 3 years to complete. But due to the ambitious designs and precarious building site atop a mountain, the project took much longer. King Ludwig II set practically unachievable deadlines which meant that workers had to work day and night to get the work done in time. The King had to live in the gateway building until the palace was liveable. He finally moved in in 1884, 12 years later than he intended, though building work was still not complete.
Had it been completed, the palace would have had more than 200 interior rooms, including premises for guests and servants, as well as for service and logistics. Ultimately, no more than about 15 rooms and halls were finished. Before his death in 1886, the King had racked up substantial debts. In order to pay off these debts, the authorities opened the castle to the public as a museum, just 7 weeks after his death.
More than 20 movies have been made at Neuschwanstein including:
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
The Monuments Men (2014)
The Amazing Race (2001– )
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962)
The Rape of Europa (2006)
Walt Disney was so inspired by its fairytale architecture, that he used it to create Cinderella's castle in the 1950 cartoon film. Neuschwanstein is also the basis for the Disney logo, shown before every Disney film, and the Cinderella Castle in Disneyworld Florida and the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris.
It was a wonderful experience getting to see such an architectural masterpiece. The stunning location, the gigantic size, and lavish interiors made today unforgettable.
After huffing and puffing the 1/2 mile back up the hill to meet our bus, we guided our car toward Munich. We passed by many dairy farms and as I was saying to Ben, “I bet they have great cheese here”, we passed a cheese, meat and fish shop by the road. Ben, on his own without me suggesting it, did a quick u-turn and we had cheese and prosciutto on a fresh roll and a cappuccino for lunch. Perfect surprise lunch!! We arrived in Munich and checked out the rental car return and the Uniworld meeting place in the airport for tomorrow morning. Then we checked in to the ultra modern Moxy Hotel for the evening. After phone calls,(one being a busted hot water at home), a nap for Ben and writing for me we went right down the country road for a pizza dinner. Tomorrow we begin phase 2 of our adventure as we meet our South Carolina friends and Uniworld River Cruise guide.