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Neuschwanstein is an ivory castle with majestic spires sitting on a solitary peak and it is a very pretty castle, like a place any princess would want to wake up in.
The entire façade of the castle is from limestone found near Swansee (Swan Lake) nearby, and the walls that supported the stones are of brick. Against the backdrop of Bavarian Alps, this white castle with red trim (because of the bricks) stands like in a dream.
Neuschwanstein castle was built during the second half of the nineteenth century, as an imitation of a medieval castle. Then this castle itself was imitated by Walt Disney for his sleeping beauty’s castle.
King Ludwig was said to be homosexual and had a special relationship with Richard Wagner as the musician’s patron. Rooms on the third floor are based upon the legends of Wagner’s operas. For Tannhauser a winter garden and grotto and for Lohengrin a chamber and a throne room with a vaulted ceiling supported by columns and decorated with stars. The throne room is almost exactly like the inside of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
King Ludwig was a romantic. Besides his fantasy of the third floor cave built for Wagner’s Tannhauser, the king had a love for swans. The motif of swans repeated itself in small statuettes throughout the castle. There’s a life size porcelain swan which is said to be the king’s favorite. Even the tap in the kitchen had a swan head.
All through the castle there are breathtaking chandeliers. King Ludwig’s Bed boasted the most intricate woodcarvings with the bed covers embroidered in glitzy decorations.
The kitchen is large with a vaulted ceiling and a huge stove in the middle of it. There is a basin near a window. The story is that it was for keeping the king’s fish fresh.
Neuschwanstein Castle had been equipped with the best technology of its times. The toilets were flushable at each story and there was running water on all floors. The castle had central heating system and a winter garden with glass sliding doors.
Known by many nicknames as the Swan King, Dream King, Mad Ludwig or The Mad King of Bavaria, Ludwig was an extravagant spender who became king at the age of 19 and never fit in with the royal crowd. He had serious problems relating to all people in general and to women in particular.
Even as a child of 12, King Ludwig was fascinated by the legends and Wagner. After becoming king, when he couldn’t stand Munich’s society, he withdrew to the Bavarian Alps where he met Wagner and began a long but very stormy friendship with him until Wagner’s death.
Ludwig’s death was a puzzle also, for he died under questionable circumstances three days after he was declared insane. Some think that he might have been murdered. His death was by drowning in a lake to the south of Munich.
History of Neuschwanstein Castle
The ultimate in fantasy, Neuschwanstein Castle was King Ludwig II’s first castle. He planned it for the alpine region around Hohenschwangau, the area he loved most.
The first seeds of inspiration for the great castle came from a mini-Wagner festival that Ludwig ordered for the Munich Court Theatre in 1867, and it was this love of Wagner that was influential in his choice for the final design of Neuschwanstien castle.
The first plans were drawn up soon after Ludwig’s failed engagement and to help himself recover, he immersed himself wholly into designing Neuschwanstien. Christian Jank, the scenery designer at the Court Theatre, painted the designs for the castle, and these initial designs were then translated into architectural plans by Eduard Riedel.
At first the castle was planned to be a small but ornate castle in a high Gothic style, with delicate turrets topped with high-pointed roofs and a huge tower. The first plan was rejected as being too small. The architect’s second design showed a larger and more ornate castle in a German Gothic style. By 1869, Neuschwanstien castle had became a massive temple to Wagner, and Christian Jank’s design from that year was adopted for the project.
Neuschwanstien had such luxuries as forced-air heating and indoor plumbing. But the most distinctive feature of the castle was that it was designed to be a stage for Wagner’s operas. Some rooms were designed explicitly as places where an opera might be performed, but in every room and corridor of the castle the architecture and artwork reflected the German mythology that formed the basis of Wagner’s operas. One of the most unusual rooms — is called the Grotto. It’s a superbly convincing artificial cave with waterfalls and stalactites. The Grotto was intended to represent a cave from Wagner’s opera “Tannhäuser.”
When construction finally began, it was envisaged that Ludwig would be able to move into Neuschwanstien castle within three years or there about. Construction was painfully slow and more than a decade later Neuschwanstein castle was still not complete. In 1883 Wagner died, causing Ludwig tremendous grief. A year later, Ludwig decided to move in, even though the structure was still unfinished and the throne room was not yet ready to hold a throne. Ludwig took up residence in Neuschwanstein castle but only for a grand total of eleven nights.
In 1886, Ludwig died under suspicious circumstances at the age of 41 and construction on Neuschwanstein continued for another eight years. When the builders finally stopped, only a third of the rooms had been finished and decorated.
Without Ludwig, Wagner may never have achieved the successes he did, and without Wagner, Neuschwanstein castle would never have been built.
The “swan king,” as he is sometimes called, built other equally interesting castles and led a fascinating, if deeply troubled life.