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Monday, January 7, 2008

Neuschwanstein Castle, The New Swan Stone Castle, Bavaria, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle (New Swan Stone palace) is a 19th century Bavarian palace. Located on a mountain top in Germany, near Hohenschwangau and Füssen in southwest Bavaria, the palace was built by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as a homage to Richard Wagner, the King's inspiring muse. Although photography of the interior is not permitted, it is the most photographed building in Germany and is one of Germany's most popular tourist destinations.

It is in good shape and because of its fairy tale-like looks it is sometimes called the Cinderella Castle. Its remarkable, prominent though idyllic look on the mountain hill caused the palace to appear in movies several times. The palace has been open to the public since 1886.

The palace comprises a gatehouse, a Bower, the Knight's House with a square tower, and a Palas, or citadel, with two towers to the Western end. The effect of the whole is highly theatrical, both externally and within. The king's influence is apparent throughout and he took a keen personal interest in the design and decoration. An example can be seen in his comments, or commands, regarding a mural depicting Lohengrin in the Palas; "His Majesty wishes that .. the ship be placed further from the shore, that Lohengrin's neck be less tilted, that the chain from the ship to the swan be of gold and not of roses, and finally that the style of the castle shall be kept medieval."

The suite of rooms within the Palas contains the Throne Room followed by Ludwig's suite, followed by the Singers' Hall and by the Grotto. Throughout, the design pays homage to the German legends of Lohengrin, the Swan Knight. Hohenschwangau, where Ludwig spent much of his youth, had decorations of these sagas. These themes were taken up in the operas of Richard Wagner. However, many of the interior rooms remain undecorated; only 14 rooms were finished before Ludwig's death. With the palace still under construction at the Kings death, one of the major features of the palace remained unbuilt. A massive keep was planned for the middle of the upper court yard and was never built at the decision of the Kings remaining family. The foundation for the keep can still be seen in the upper courtyard today.

Some of the many finished rooms include the throne room, which features a gem encrusted chandelier, all twelve apostles painted on the wall that surrounds the pedestal for the throne (the actual throne was never finished) and Jesus behind the pedestal. The King's master suite includes a four post bed hand carved out of wood, the canopy of the bed is carved as the cathedral towers from every cathedral in Bavaria, a secret flushing toilet (The toilet flushes with water collected from an aqueduct.) and a running sink in the shape of a swan. The palace also includes a oratory, accessible from the dressing room and the master suite, that features an ivory crucifix, a room made to look like a cavern, a full kitchen equipped with hot and cold running water and heated cupboards, servants quarters, a study, a dining room and the Singers' Hall. The Singers' hall is a place for musicians and playwrights to come and perform. The King built it for Wagner as a place to write and perform plays....(more on


matthew said...

wow really. I think I would love to stay there and feel like a prince. the architecture of the place really looks nice and unique.

Douglas said...

The photography is unbelievable !! Great Job !! Especially for those of us that will never get to experience it in person. Thank You !

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