For Mike`s birthday, we planned a trip to a place called Schwangau to visit the world famous castle, Neuschwanstein. Schwangau is a small village in the district of Ostallgäu in Bavaria, Germany. I had seen photographs of the castle before; it was picturized in a few movies too (This castle was the inspiration behind the palace shown in Disney’s Sleeping beauty) and I was so looking forward to seeing it in real.
It takes about 2.5 hours to reach the castle from Winterthur (where we work), but due to heavy traffic near the German-Swiss border it took us an hour more.
We had booked our room in a beautiful 4-star hotel called Hotel Rübezahl (we chose this pretty but a tad too expensive hotel because it was Mike’s birthday. There were other good, cheaper hotels in the vicinity too). Our suite came with a view of both the Neuschwanstein and another, Hohensçhwangau castles. It was simply fabulous!
After a perfect breakfast, we drove to Füssen, a town a few kilometers away from Schwangau. The town center has many shops, cafes and churches. Then we went to another town called Kempten, in the south-west of Bavaria. There was a Christmas market and nothing much.
Our hotel package included a half hour “Konigsbath” (King`s bath in German), a bath fit for royalty! We were also awarded a complementary 4-course meal at its restaurant. What can I say! I had the best German specialties starting with mushroom in an aromatic sauce, lemon and coconut soup, Gnocchi with onions and finally ending with 3 different Chocolate cakes. I enjoyed every bite!
The Hotel booking also included guided tours to both Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castles. It was 0 degree C when we reached the castle the next morning. We went to Hohenschwangau castle first, which is a 20-minute climb up a slope. King Maximilian of Bavaria built this castle in 19th century as a summer and hunting residence for his family. This castle was the childhood home of his son King Ludwig II. It inspired Ludwig to build his own castle. And he did.
I have never seen a building as beautiful as the Neuschwanstein Castle. The grey and white mountains that surround the White Castle lend it an ethereal, picturesque view.
Neuschwanstein was designed by a painter called Christian Jank. Swans flock the whole region (and hence the name, Schwangau) and they were Ludwig’s favorite birds too. Inside the castle almost all the paintings, wall hangings have Swans in them. I learnt that King Ludwig would sit in his room in Hohenschwangau castle and look through a telescope at his new home being built.
Ludwig is known as a fairy tale king. He spent most of his time pursuing his passion rather than ruling his kingdom. He used up all his money (not the state funds though, his royal revenue) on the construction of his beloved castle and had to borrow extensively.
Sadly, he passed away before the construction could be completed. And it remains in this state even to this day. Despite that, it is still one of the World`s best architectural splendor.