“He is unfortunately so beautiful and wise, soulful and lordly, that I fear his life must fade away like a divine dream in this base world…”

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Neuschwanstein Castle
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Scale model of the

Neuschwanstein15Neuschwanstein Castle is King Ludwig II’s most famous creation and his most ambitious. It was such a perfect embodiment of the fairy tale ideal Ludwig wanted that Walt Disney used it as the model for Sleeping Beauty’s castle in his 1959 animated film. It’s here that you understand why Ludwig was often called the “Fairy Tale King.” It’s the only castle in Bavaria that makes money through tourism, and it’s the one that subsidizes all the others.

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Neuschwanstein Castle
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The path up to the more strenuous route to the castle
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Route up to the castle through the woods
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View from the way up to the castle

When you arrive to the little village at the base of the castle, you can see the castle up above you. Before we got off the bus at the village, our tour guide Maria had offered to take us the way up to the castle “only the locals know, through the forest.” However, she warned us that it was only for those “with the fitness” because it was a much more strenuous route than the one taken by most people walking up to the castle (or taking the bus or a carriage). I should have learned by now that when a German person tells you something will be strenuous, they mean it. Maria was no exception. So after our lunch in the village, we followed Maria up the mountain to the castle. The views were beautiful, and it was totally worth it. But it was no joke.

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Route up to the castle
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Austrians have been here apparently

Neuschwanstein6From Neuschwanstein Castle, you can see the castle in which Ludwig II grew up, Hohenschwangau Castle, in addition to majestic views across the valley. The guy really had a knack for picking the prime locations for his castles. Once inside the castle, you can see that Ludwig had an obsession with recreating the medieval. Each room is decorated after a famous medieval ideal or Wagner opera. And inexplicably there’s a cave right outside his living room. I suppose he used it to stage plays in, but it’s just kind of randomly tossed in there.

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Hohenschwangau Castle – where Ludwig grew up
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Neuschwantstein Castle
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Neuschwanstein Castle
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Neuschwanstein Castle
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Views from the way up to the castle

Even more than at Linderhof, the interior of Neuschwanstein feels like a movie set or playhouse – there’s an aura of unreality about it all. After Ludwig was deposed (and murdered?), the castle was hurriedly finished with the bare minimum of expense. So one wonders what his final vision for the place might have been. On the whole, I found it be kind of melancholy, especially hearing how lonely Ludwig’s life probably was.

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View from one of the castle balconies
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My brother and me at Neuschwanstein Castle
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Sign warning everyone that the Marienbrücke Bridge is closed.
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We watched this guy jump the fence and sneak into a very restricted, dangerous-looking area.
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Marienbrücke Bridge, currently closed for renovation.

Title quote: Richard Wagner about King Ludwig II

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Panorama in front of the castle
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Views from in front of the castle
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Views from the way up to the castle
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Castle kitchens
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This is in a stairwell inside the castle
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Part of the castle complex
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Neuschwanstein Castle

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One of the buildings in the village at the foot of the castle

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