Other than Fussen being beautiful itself, the primary reason to go there is to visit castles. There are two castles there, one rebuilt from ruin in 1832 by Maximilian II, Hohenschwangau, and the other commissioned by his son, Ludwig II, in 1869. The castle was never completed.
We decided to buy the “Swan” ticket, as that allows entrance to all both castles, and the museum. Unfortunately, there was no photography allowed inside any of the buildings, a theme that reoccured at every tourist attraction we visited in Germany. I’m really not sure why, but I did see a lot of people breaking the loosely enforced rule. I did not because I just can’t rebel like that.
The Museum was neat, a lot to look at, a lot to read, and a lot of audio tour to listen to. It started with an extensive family tree of the rulers of Bavaria, and moved on to relics and items. We looked around, then got mulled wine and hiked up to the nearest castle for our first tour.
Hohenschwangau was the seat of the knights of Schwangau during the middle ages, but passed through many hands since then. The original castle was first mentioned in 1397, and over the years was ruined, but Maximillion found it while on a hunting expedition and began to reconstruct it in 1832. It was a summer and hunting residence. Unfortunately, self-guided tours are not available, but our tour guide was a funny young man who looked exactly like Jean-Ralphio from Entertainment 720. EXACTLY. Hair, build, skinny jeans, everything.
The bus was closed due to the snow and ice, so we had to hike up to Neuschwanstein. It said to expect 45 minutes to get up there, but we had thought that was an exaggeration due to how fast we hiked to Hohenschwangau. In this case, it was not an exaggeration and was a little bit of a strain.
But, totally worth it, and also didn’t seem hard at all on the trip back down. Not a surprise really, but seemed to go by in 15 minutes.
Ludwig had lived in Hohenschwangau before building Neuschwanstein, and why he wanted two castles so close to each other is a mystery to me, but apparently, he was a little bit castle crazy. He did not take kindly to the country being overtaken by Prussia, and no longer being a sovereign ruler. His outlet was building lots of castles, and going into lots of debt. He only lived in Neuschwanstein for two years before being declared insane and moved to another one of his castles, where he promptly drowned with his psychiatrist. There should be a TV series on this guy.
But, at least he left us some cool castles to explore! Neuschwanstein was opened to the public only a month and a half after his death. Although it was still unfinished, that left plenty of room to built a sweet gift shop and cafeteria. Thanks for the great tourist attraction!
Although I was not able to get photos of the interior, it is incredible. You are able to see the servants quarters (actually seemed pretty luxurious for servants!), the magnificent throne room, the almost as magnificent dance hall, the kitchens, and Ludwig’s own apartments. He basically has his own floor and even built a little cave grotto to go through from his closet to his office. The whole castle is incredible with the amount of fine wood carving, decorations, floors, and murals. I cannot even imagine what it would have been like to live in such a place.
The second floor was never finished, and it’s the gift shop and cafe now. It also had non-pay toilets, which I was pretty thrilled about.
This place is fantastic to visit, and I would definitely visit again. The bridge, famous for being able to take an incredible picture of the castle, was closed due to the snow and ice, which was a huge disappointment. There was also a lot of construction going on, and I’m curious what the plan is. I couldn’t tell if they were just maintaining the castle, or trying to finish the original vision of the castle. Hopefully, I will be back again for the reveal in a few years!