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Neuschwanstein Castle

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Literally translated as ‘New Swan Stone’, this castle is one of the most beautiful and certainly the most famous castle in Germany and was the model used for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. It was built in neo-romantic style to the order of King Ludwig II near the Bavarian tourist town of Fussen and overlooks the picturesque Hohenschwangau Valley. Construction began in 1869, but the ‘Mad King’s’ demands were so exacting that progress was extremely slow. It is said that it took more than a dozen carpenters over four years just to complete the woodwork in Ludwig’s bedroom. Unfortunately, only 14 rooms were actually completed before the king’s death, leaving many of the rooms empty and bare.

In 1886, as the castle was reaching completion, the king was declared insane by a State Commission and stripped of his powers. In June of that year he was found drowned in shallow water in Lake Starnberg. His unexplained death was ruled as suicide and the mystery adds a touch of intrigue to the castle. From the outside, the beauty of this fairytale castle is enhanced as the sun illuminates the pale stone walls, towers and turrets. Inside, the throne room is overly extravagant. Elaborate frescos of angels and other Christian depictions adorn the room; however, there is no throne but just a raised dais. The king was removed from power before a throne could be built. 

Around 1.3 million people now visit the castle every year.

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Hohenschwangau Castle

Just a short distance from Neuschwanstein Castle, this 19th century castle was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was built by his father King Maximillian II. The castle was constructed on the remains of Schwanstein, a 12th century fortress built by a dynasty of knights. The fortress changed hands numerous times following the demise of the knights in the 16th century and finally fell into ruin in the early 19th century. King Maximillian II of Bavaria acquired the property in 1832 and began its reconstruction in neo-Gothic style, a task which took until 1837. The King and his wife Marie of Prussia lived in the main building, whilst their two sons Ludwig (later King Ludwig II) and Otto (later King Otto I) lived in the annex.

Hohenschwangau Castle can only be visited as part of a guided tour.
 
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