Unveiling the Fairytale Magic of Bavaria's Iconic Castle Amidst Alpine Splendor
Our next day trip from Munich was to Neuschwanstein Castle, south of Munich near the Alpsee - Hohenschwangau. As can be seen in the pictures on this page, there just really isn't a "bad view" of the castle from any angle!
The castle (located in the picturesque Bavarian region of Germany) is a fairytale-like masterpiece that has captured the imaginations of millions around the world. Commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the 19th century, this architectural gem stands as a quintessential symbol of romanticism.
Quick History Lesson: Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and in honour of Richard Wagner. Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, rather than Bavarian public funds.
The castle was intended as a home for the king, until he died in 1886. It was open 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.
Construction of the castle started during the summer of 1868, but the first foundation stone wasn’t laid until September 5, 1869. By 1873, parts of the castle could be occupied by Ludwig II, though he never lived to see his full vision realized. The Bower and Square Towers were completed in 1892: nearly a quarter of a century after work on the castle began, and many years after Ludwig II passed away and the castle was opened to the public.
According to King Ludwig's plans, the castle was meant to have more than 200 rooms. But just over a dozen were finished before funds for the project were cut. Estimates put the total Neuschwanstein Castle square footage at roughly 65,000 square feet. Make no mistake, this is a large building; it is 426.5 feet long, sitting atop a sheer 656 foot high hill with a main tower of 213 feet in height.
Click here to view the Wikipedia Article where the above information came from - and to read more about this beautiful castle.
Where is Neuschwanstein Castle / How do you get there?
We were staying in the southern area of Munich, west of the Isar River, so our goal was to drive there via the Romantic Road ("Romantische Straße"), which gave us a scenic ride through a beautiful areas of Bavaria. See the large lake just south of Starnberg? That is Lake Starnberg where King Ludwig drowned in 1886. It has never been resolved whether his death was accidental or murder.
Exploring Neuschwanstein Castle Grounds Map
You can either walk up the hill, or you can ride a horse drawn carraige - either way you are going to get some incredible views of the castle, the valley below as well as the forest.
This picture was taken on the hiking trails east of the Castle, a heavily forested area with occasional glimpses of the castle.
WARNING: The walk from the ticketing center to the castle, is approximately 1.5 kilometers up a steep hill. On a hot summer day, this can turn into a strenuous walk, more so if you did not bring water with you. There are numerous shady spots to cool off, and if it is not hot this is a spectacular walk through a heavily wooded area.
Castle Entrance Gate House
As far as I am aware, this is the only public entrance to the castle, through the gate and wait in the courtyard for your entrance to be granted.
Entrance is allowed only via your ticket, which is date & time marked - in other words - you cannot enter until your date & time is called. This is why this area appears to be lightly populated, everyone who was waiting had just gone inside the castle.
Upper Courtyard Level
The most striking structure of the upper court level is the so-called Rectangular Tower. Like most of the court buildings, it mostly serves a decorative purpose as part of the ensemble. The northern end of the upper courtyard is defined by the so-called Knights' House (right side of image). The three-storey building is connected to the Rectangular Tower and the Gatehouse by means of a continuous gallery fashioned with a blind arcade.
Neuschwanstein East Side
As you walk about on the trails near the castle, you can see this end of the building which is not quite visible from the valley or from the front side.
Neuschwanstein West Side
This was taken as our walk up the Neuschwanstein Strasse was completed, looking east along the steep sides of the castle.
Neuschwanstein East Side from the Trail
It is easy to see that this picture was taken as we ascended the hiking trail on our way to Marienbrücke, the castle views get better & better from this area.
The area behind the castle provides a very nice hiking path, through a beautiful forest area as it heads uphill. The views of the castle from this area are fantastic!
Neuschwanstein Castle Inner Courtyard
This image is from the Neuschwanstein Castle inner courtyard, looking towards the main residence building.
At the time of it's construction, the Schloss Neuschwanstein was called the New Hohenschwangau Castle. After the death of King Ludwig II, the castle was renamed the Schloss Neuschwanstein, which meant the “New Swan Stone Castle”. This was a reference to the castle of the Swan Knight Lohengrin in an opera of the same name by Wagner.
Marienbrücke (Mary's Bridge)
Here is a great view of the Castle from the famous Marienbrücke (Mary's bridge) built to cross the Pöllat Gorge by King Maximilian II in 1845. We were perhaps 500 or more feet above the castle. The hiking path extends beyond the bridge and provides great views of the castle. Looks like a fairy tale kind of building doesn't it? King Ludwig, who designed it and had it built, was far more interested in being an architect, than he was having to be the King of Bavaria.
Since we had been inside the Castle before, and because the crowds were such that all tickets for that day were sold out, we decided to hike up behind the Castle, to see it from above.
Click here to view a Google Map of where the Pöllat Gorge is located in relation to the castle.
Below Mary's Bridge
Here is a great view of the Castle from below the famous Mary's bridge, in the Pöllat gorge. The hiking trails extend into the gorge if you are interested in this kind of view.
Posing on Mary's Bridge
It was a bit difficult to get a picture while standing on this bridge, due to the large number of tourists walking to & fro, but eventually Jeremy was able to take this great picture of us - and oh yeah - with the Castle in the background!
The bridge is an easy walk from the castle, located north of the Castle and above it, click here to view a Google Map of the route.
Hohenschwangau Village is on the left, Schloss Hohenschwangau on right, as seen from Neuschwanstein Castle. The two castles are only 2.2 kilometers apart, click here to view a Google Map of the route..
Hot Day Rest Break
This picture was included to give you a bit of an idea of how hot it was, because on our way back down the hiking trail from Neuschwanstein, we had to stop and get ourselves a cold drink!
If I remember correctly, something had just flown over this area, and I was trying to get a better view of it.
Neuschwanstein Castle: Our Last View
This was our final view of Neuschwanstein Castle, as we walked through the little village at the bottom of the hiking trail. As you can see, there were a lot of tourists there that day, which is typical of summer days in Bavaria. Gives you an idea of how steep that mountain is behind the castle, that is where we hiked up, to get that beautiful view of the castle.
Once we got out of the trees that lined the hiking trail, we were back in the direct sun light, and it was a scorcher that day. Damn good thing our rental car had A/C !
- Neuschwanstein Castle History on the 'Britannica' site
- Things to see & do in Neuschwanstein Castle on the 'Crazy Tourist' site
- Things to see & do in Neuschwanstein Castle on the 'Travel US News' site
- Things to see & do in Neuschwanstein Castle on the 'Culture Trip' site
- Neuschwanstein Castle on the "Rick Steves" site
- Full Day Tour from Munich to Neuschwanstein & Linderhof Castles from the "Get Your Guide" Site
- Amazon search results list for "Neuschwanstein Castle"
- Youtube Search Results list for "Neuschwanstein Castle"
- European Travel Tips from the "Just Traveling Thru, LLC" site
- Travel Planning Tips from the "Just Traveling Thru, LLC" site
- Google search results list for "places to eat near Neuschwanstein Castle"
- Google search results list for "Neuschwanstein Castle area Accommodations"
- Visit our Youtube Channel
- Neuschwanstein Castle Wikipedia Article
- Our Neuschwanstein Castle Image Gallery
- Google Image Gallery
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