Neuschwanstein Castle was opened to visitors in 1886, just seven weeks after King Ludwig II’s death. King Ludwig II had the castle built so he could withdraw from the public life. Today, huge amounts of visitors come every year to explore what was intended to be a private refuge. Neuschwanstein Castle is now one of the most popular castles and palaces in all of Europe. Each year, approximately 1.4 million guests come to see "the castle of the fairy-tale king". During the summer season, around six thousand people visit the castle each day to explore the many rooms intended for only one inhabitant.
It would be hard to have a more idyllic setting for Neuschwanstein Castle. However, the sheer rock walls have to be repeatedly secured and the foundation area must be continuously monitored. The area’s harsh climate also tends to have a detrimental effect on the castle’s limestone façades. These façades will need to be renovated over several years, section by section.
Neuschwanstein Castle is illustrative of the longings and ideals of King Ludwig II, more vividly so than any other building he had built. This castle was designed to be a place where he could retreat to, rather than serve for royal representation. It was at this castle that Ludwig II hoped to escape to a dream world, the poetic world of the Middle Ages, and escape from public life.
The picture cycles seen in Neuschwanstein Castle were inspired by Richard Wagner’s operas. The castle was even dedicated to Richard Wagner by the king. Rather than be modelled directly after the works by Wagner, the pictures were modelled after the legends of medieval times that the composer has used as the basis for his different works.
The pictures seen along the interior walls of Neuschwanstein Castle deal with the topics of guilt, love, repentance, and salvation. Pictures can be seen of lovers, poets, knights, and kings throughout the castle’s rooms. There are three main figures found in the pictures: the Grail King Parzival; his son, the swan knight Lohengrin, and the poet Tannhäuser. These three figures were Ludwig II’s kindred spirits and models.
The Middle Ages at Neuschwanstein Castle were merely an illusion. Behind its medieval appearance, the castle featured the latest in technology of the time, ensuring every comfort for the kind. All of the rooms of the royal residence, or the Palas, were equipped with hot air central heating. The castle also featured running water on every floor, toilets that had an automatic flushing system, and a kitchen with both cold and hot water.
King Ludwig II used a system of electric bells to summon his adjutants and servants in the castle. Telephones were even present on the third floor and the fourth floor of Neuschwanstein Castle. So meals wouldn’t have to be carried laboriously upstairs, a lift was installed as well. State-of-the-art technology of the time was also used in the castle’s construction, such as large window panes, steel construction, and using steam engines to power cranes.
Neuschwansteinstraße 20, Schwangau, Germany, Phone: 49-83-62-93-98-80
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