It’s the castle of all castles, the cream of the crop, the Schloss Walt Disney visited on his trip to Europe in the 1950s and decided right then and there that this masterpiece would be the inspo for his iconic Sleeping Beauty castle in Disneyland.
Visiting Neuschwanstein is borderline overwhelming and nearly 1.3 million tourists get to experience that annually.
The elevated masterpiece of a Schloss screams importance as it towers above the village below with pined hillsides as the backdrop. The limestone façades dominate the incredible medieval Romanesque architecture, creating a sort of paradox for that distinct sort of dwelling with its technological advancements for those times. Neuschwanstein was built with running water throughout, even including flush toilets, hot water, an elevator and central-air.
Let’s take a look at the Castle Fit Only for a King: Neuschwanstein
It was a snowy day in November about 3 years ago when Andy whisked me off for a winter wonderland trip in the Bavarian region of Germany. Being a complete newb to the traveling game, I was unaware of the magical/popular places throughout the world. I didn’t have an Instagram at the time and I only used Pinterest as a recipe-holder so each new region we’d visit overseas were complete surprises for me.
So here we are, driving through the Bavarian Alps, when Andy zooms off the exit from the autobahn in the middle of nowhere.
Not even a minute goes by before I’m bugging him to tell me where we’re going. “You’ll see” he says. Ugh, guess I’ll just have to sit and wait.
It wasn’t long until the long stretch of snowy fields began merging into mountains. The snow, glistening in the late afternoon sun, was almost blinding as I looked up on the hillside and saw this castle, fit only for a king, towering over this little German village, nestled on the edge of the Alps.
We had made it to Neuschwanstein.
A Little History
Interestingly enough, Neuschwanstein wasn’t completed until after the death of King Ludwig II, the man responsible for beginning the massive project. According to history, after Prussia took over Germany in 1866, Ludwig had virtually no power to his throne so he began to build what would be his new home, modeled after his childhood residence, Hohenschwangau Schloss.
Ludwig essentially drained Bavaria’s economy to fund the construction and in 1886, he was arrested by authorities and deemed “mentally unfit” to rule as a monarch. Not even two days later, his body was found floating in a lake.
After his death in 1886, the officials in Bavaria ceased construction on the castle and renamed it Neuschwanstein.
After sitting idle for a few years, they opened the castle up as a tourist attraction to regain finances to finish construction and in 1892, the final touches rounded off Neuschwanstein, now the most popular and arguably most beautiful castle in the world.
As we pulled into the parking lot near the visitor’s center, the lack of tourist buses and vehicles was an inclination that we wouldn’t be granted admission into Neuschwanstein, or else there’d be a million cars here, right?
Yep, I was right. We moseyed our way into the ticket office to only be told the last tour sold out minutes before we got there. Drats! What now?
A little disappointed but still completely enamored by this stunning Schloss hoisted hundreds of feet above our heads, we decided we’d like to get up close and personal to it before retreating back to our home in Rheinland-Pfalz.
Andy asked if I preferred to take the horse and carriage up to the top but, me being a budget-freak (or maybe just a little stubborn), I forewent that convenience and continued trekking up that massive hill. I regretted not taking the horse and carriage within minutes because that climb to the top is not for the faint of heart but the views become more and more incredible the higher you go.
As we close in on Neuschwanstein, the gorgeous golden hour begins to take hold and the orange reflection off the incredible limestone façades becomes more vibrant.
After what seems like the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest, I was now arms-length away from touching the most famous castle in the world, leaving me completely speechless.
We take off towards the north on the walking path, coming up to that insanely gorgeous entrance into the courtyard. It’s hard to imagine how a place like this was built, so intricately to boot, over 150 years ago.
I wasted no time running up to the entrance to take a quick picture.
And this was back wayyyy before my blogging days, when I was only taking pictures for my personal memories via a third generation iPhone. I’m still quite surprised sitting here now that the quality of the photos didn’t suffer as badly as I thought they would have!
From the time we made it to the entrance and snapped those pictures, we were told that they were closing the front gates within the next 10 minutes. That was our cue to run in to the courtyard, still completely mesmerized by this magical place.
I could’ve sat in this area for hours, imagining what it was like to be King Ludwig II, watching his fairytale vision come to life through construction in only one of the most magical regions in Germany, if not the world. It’s so disappointing that he never had the ability to see his dream become reality and transform into the most famous castle in the world.
It wasn’t long until tourists from the last tour came trickling out of the castle, exiting through the wooden portal that opens up to views of surrounding Bavaria. We figured we better follow suit, even though I was half-tempted to run up those stairs and into Neuschwanstein, finding myself a golden throne to sit on while sipping a cuppa. I would be the one to convince everyone that this castle is indeed fit for a QUEEN, not a King.
The sun was setting over those snow-capped Alps as we retreated back down the walkway, away from Neuschwanstein. I turned around to give her one last look up close before continuing on our trek back towards the bottom.
About a quarter of the way back down, we notice a slew of people seemingly posing and taking pictures with their backs to the castle. Thinking it could be a great viewpoint of this masterpiece, we walked a little further to find that those people indeed found a magnificent spot to take some photos!
Teeth chattering and red-tipped noses, we took a couple of photos before continuing on our retreat back to the car. The entire walk down, I kept looking back up to check if I was still able to see Neuschwanstein and, as I got further and further away, I felt this tingling shiver run down my spine.
No, it’s not the below-freezing temps, I think I just discovered the only thing I ever want to do in life: visit every single iconic landmark in the world.
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