Thursday, March 10, 2011

Neuschwanstein Castle

Probably one of the most beautiful castles in the world, Neuschwanstein Castle is located on top of the village of Hohenschwangau along the rugged hills of Bavaria in Germany. The design is a Romanesque revival architecture and its interior walls depict frescoes in Wagner's famous operas.

It is Europe's most intriguing castle due to its connection to King Ludwig II. It has a spectacular view of the black forest, lakes, rivers and valleys. It is where most of the fairy tale stories are based, prominently used as a backdrop on several fairy tale movies. The castle of Sleeping Beauty in Disneyland is patterned after Neuschwanstein Castle.

The castle's history is as mysterious as the reign of its original owner, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who was declared insane by his ministers because of his peculiarity and obsession to fantasy. He was arrested and removed from his court, he died later under mysterious circumstances.

The King ordered the construction of the castle under heavy debt, despite the wrangling and objection of his ministers, he stubbornly proceeded with the plan, he intended it to be his refuge and homage to his favorite playwright, Richard Wagner. What is more intriguing with the creation of this fortress is the manner of construction. In great contrast to building practices, the King commissioned theater designers to do the planning of the interior of the castle instead of Architects.

Ludwig II, who was unmarried until his death, preferred a life in seclusion and fantasy and creating Neuschwanstein Castle was the realization of his long cherished dream of living a life in fairy tale. He was famously called the "Swan King".

The castle is now under the supervision of the Bavarian government. It was made open to the public in the 20th century to pay for the castle's maintenance. It continues to draw visitors around the world annually and next to Windsor Castle in England, Neuschwanstein Castle is the most frequently visited castle in Europe and Germany's best tourist attraction.