Friday, November 21, 2008

Hoenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castles

Hoenschwangau Castle, where King Ludwig II lived as a child, was built by his Father (King Maximilian II.)

Ludwig had the Neuschwanstein castle (New Swan Stone Castle) built across from his father's. Both castles have rooms, names, and statues dedicated to swans. Turns out that Swan Lake separates the two castles and most people believe Tchaikovsky was inspired to model the story of Swan Lake after the tragic life of Ludwig. He was found dead in a river alongside his psychiatrist, probably murdered, at 46. Some say he committed suicide because he was crazy and also gay. He never married and lived with his mother. But his castle was designed for a man with fabulous taste. It's amazing inside and out. Definitely a home for someone off his rocker and living in a fairy-tale world. In fact, there is a room that is built to look like the inside of a cave, with stalactites and stalagmites, etc.  This is the castle that Disney used to design the Sleeping Beauty castle and it's really not that old as far as castles go. They began building in 1869 and when Ludwig passed in 1886 it was still not quite complete.

Done with the history lesson. So, that aside, it was a really pleasant trip and only about 3 hours away. Not bad. The only downer is that there were no accommodations made for handicap folks and therefore strollers are pretty much impossible. To get there we walked (about a 30/40 min walk) in the woods uphill with many stairs, and when we got there strollers were not allowed inside (or anyone in a wheelchair for that matter.) But it was so worth it. The view at the top and the walk were both refreshing and it was a good workout.  Ellie was on my hip for the tour and way too excited about all the stairs in the castle. She also made friends with a little Italian boy who was about 2 and kept blowing kisses at her. Lots of fun.