Rapunzel, let down your hair – Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles

posted in: Explore Germany | 2
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair to me”
Brothers Grimm
Indeed, one of the most fairy-tale like and romantic castles in Germany is located in few hours ride from Munich. The incessant flow of tourists willing to see the castle every day makes it one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. On a summer day the palace is visited by approximately by 6000 tourist on its peak and more than 1,3 million tourists visit it annually.
The palace built in Romanesque Revival style was the harbor of secular life of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who built it in 1882. The palace has appeared prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and later, similar structures.


The great life hack that a traveler should keep in mind is the possibility to buy Bavaria Ticket, which is valid for whole Bavaria region (special thanks to Katya Malkova for a hint). The price is 23 EUR for one person and you can take up to 5 persons to join you – the price will go up respectively, but not more than 43 EUR for 5 persons in the second class carriage.
Check the schedule to Fussen – trains are departing rather often from Munich. On leaving the station you should take a bus no. 87. Mind that your Bavaria ticket is also valid for bus connection. The bus will take you to the village of Hohenschwangau, where the castle is located on the hill.
Below is the image of tourists, willing to take the bus. On a 26th December I counted about 150 tourists willing to visit the castles, so don’t worry you will be lost, someone will be definitely going there.

Once leaving the bus at the station make sure to make it first to the tickets office, as the waiting in the line will be tiresome, long and painful. Due to the large amount of tourist, all English speaking tours to Neuschwanstein were booked up, so the only thing left for me was to take a tour to Hohenschwangau Castle in Russian. As I’ve been told later by my Spaniard co-passengers in a train, they somehow managed to convince the cashier to sell them extra tickets for self audio guide to Neuschwanstein, despite there were no any tours.

Hohenschwangau castle
The castle is much smaller than Neuschwanstein, but also located on a hill with a great image over the village.

The passage to the hill leads through Alpseebad, a picturesque lake on which during summer time one can take a boat for a rent.


Hohenschwangau’s history
The palace is the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria. The palace was built on the foundations of Schwangau fortress, which was mentioned back to 12th century. It is known that Bavarian king, Maximilian II discovered the site while he had a  walking tour in the area and liked the surroundings so much that he decided to acquire the place in April 1829.
The reconstruction of Schwanstein ruins began in 1833 and continued until 1837. Hohenschwangau was the official summer and hunting residence of Maximilian, his wife Marie of Prussia, and their two sons Ludwig (the later King Ludwig II of Bavaria) and Otto (the later King Otto I of Bavaria).
As to my personal belief there is nothing particular special to see in the castle. Tourists are not allowed to all premises, tours in chosen language are not outspoken by the guide, but narrated from the record and all the tourist can see – is rooms of the family and luxury gifts they have received – for instance a silver shield and axe bestowed by Bavarian lords or a replica of a cathedral made of sheer silver. Moreover it is not allowed to take pictures inside.
As the palace is located on a small hill above the village, one can see a nice picture of the area from the inner courtyard.
Neuschwanstein castle
The ascend to Neuschwanstein castle will take more time, 40 min according to a map, but approximately 20 for a fast pace. On a way up the hill one will encounter a restaurant and beer brewery in classic Bavarian style.
The castle is located on a plateau and surrounded by hills. Great view opens to a traveler on a valley down the hill.
Neuschwanstein’s background
The castle was built by one of Maximilian’s son, King Ludwig II, the heir of Bavarian throne in 1892. However the architecture style was criticized in 19th century, the castle remains the perfect example of castle romanticism (German: Burgenromantik) style. King Ludwig II was friends with Richard Wagner and he saw a castle as a romantic interpretation of the Middle Ages as well as the musical mythology of his friend Richard Wagner. In his letter he writes:
It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles, and I must confess to you that I am looking forward very much to living there one day […]; you know the revered guest I would like to accommodate there; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world. It will also remind you of “Tannhäuser” (Singers’ Hall with a view of the castle in the background), “Lohengrin'” (castle courtyard, open corridor, path to the chapel) […].
— Ludwig II, Letter to Richard Wagner, May 1868 {wikipedia}
In a clear day one can see a bridge in the hills from which a more full panorama of the castle and surroundings is available, but due to the misty weather I was unable to spot the place.
The interior of the castle is luxurious, all in gold and murals on the walls. For instance here is an image of thone hall and singers hall respectively depicted on late 19th century’s Photo-chrome prints. As I said taking pictures in all rooms is forbidden.
Throne hall/wikimedia
Singer’s hall/wikimedia
The visit to the castles is a nice trip for one day from Munich and is a great starting point to discover Bavaria and its landmarks. Note that one can return home using Bavaria ticket, as it is valid till 12 p.m. Do not miss the chance to discover the beauty of the region in the one day.