King Ludwig II’s castle sits high atop a hill above Hohenschwangow. Only a fraction of the castle’s interior was completed before the spendthrift King Ludwig was found drowned in a lake—no, not Lake Bannwaldsee, but a lake further down in the valley—and so the castle tour takes under an hour to complete, but is nice to see how this spoiled regent used his education and imagination to decorate, adorn, and otherwise (planned to) live large. You won’t find his throne here, though—he died before it could be completed.
Ludwig had two passions: opera and white swans. The lake has many swans roaming freely amongst swimming vacationers. They happen to be the largest swans I’ve ever seen (you feel like a Lilliputian when one of these creatures paddles past you as you laze on a raft in the lake). Neuschwanstein’s leitmotif, therefore, is classical scenes painted on the ceilings, and The Swan: metal door handles take the swan’s neck and head as form; wallpaper has swan designs in its pattern; a mosaic in the king’s throne room has animals from the creature kingdom (using more than one million mosaic tiles), including the divine swan.
There are two ways you can get up to the castle. One is by foot up a steep roadway or trail winding through the forest. The fun way is to take a horse-drawn buggy that begins just down the street from the castle ticket office. Pay the money. It’s a nice ride and you won’t be tired, sweaty, and bitchy when you get to the top.
(read more about Neuschwanstein Castle highlights)