Our destination for the day was The Hotel Sommer in the Bavarian town of Fussen. Located on the banks of the river Lech, it was the perfect pitstop for our visit to Neuschwanstein Castle. We had a chance to experience a portion of the famous Romantic Road for the drive here from Munich. We meandered through picturesque German villages which seemed to be from a time past. It really did bring me back to reading fairytales of Hansel & Gretel and the like.
We hadn’t realised when we booked this hotel but it was a destination hotel in itself. Views of the castle in the distance and situated right on the banks of the Forggensee Lake. It had a heated pool, tennis courts, bikes for use, and was surrounded with walking tracks amongt the Alps. We opted for an early night in as we only had one night here and a full day of exploring the Castles before our next destination.
After a hearty German breakfast we headed a few kilometres away to the castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau.
Allanah was particularly excited to explore “Cinderella’s Castle”. We paid our fees and started with our tour of the Schloss Hohenschwangau. This was the castle re built by King Ludwig’s father Maximilian, and where Ludwig spent most of his childhood. Built in the Gothic style with many elaborate medieval frescoes. The castle was built on the remains of the fortress Schwangau dating back to the 12th Century. The story goes that King Maximilian was on a walking tour and stumbled upon the ruin. He fell in the love with the beauty of the region so acquired the ruin and began his restoration and rebuild into what we see today. The construction began in 1833 and was completed in 1837.
King Ludwig spent many happy years enjoying Hohenschwangau Castle. On the same grounds it was in 1869 that construction of Neuschwanstein Castle began. The Gatehouse was the first part of the castle to be built and this is where King Ludwig first lived in the castle. He resided in the castle for a mere 172 days before his disappearance. The castle was not completed before his death but he still had the chance to oversee the elaborate interiors of 15 rooms. The plan had been for construction of over 200 rooms. including the typical servant’s and guest’s quarters. Many of the rooms depict opera scenes from the famous composer Richard Wagner.
Allanah’s vision of what the interiors of “Cinderella’s Castle” were, were not what King Ludwig’s were for sure. The dark, elaborate rooms were not the Disneyesque vision most children have in mind. The best description of the interiors would be medieval neo-gothic kitsch.
King Ludwig was known as an eccentric or rather “the Mad King”. Poor Ludwig did not conform to the normal behaviours of the day. He was declared mentally insane and dethroned. Three days later he drowned in Lake Starnberg not far from Munich. The story goes he committed suicide but there has always been speculation that he was murdered.
His legacy and eccentricities live on today and the public is so lucky to have the opportunity to view what extraordinary and different minds can envision and with money produce.