As we inched closer to the Neuschwanstein Castle, I couldn’t help but think it looked even more fairy tale’esque thanks to the autumnal hues Mother Nature had dressed it in. Rich yellow, copper and crimson leaves framed the world-famous castle on the craggy rocks, contrasting sharply with the lime green fields below it.
In German, the name Neuschwanstein literally translates to ‘new swan stone’ attesting to King Ludwig’s family’s heraldic-like connection with the graceful animal. When I was a little girl and visited the castle for the first time, however, I just couldn’t get the name to roll off my tongue in the right way. I mistakenly called it NeuSCHWEINstein (Schwein = pig), making the idyllic castle sound more like a pigsty than a regal place. Today, my parents and German friends don’t let me live that linguistic faux pas down.
Wanting to create a private refuge where he could escape public life in Munich, King Ludwig decided to have the Romanesque Revival style castle built not far from one of his family’s nearby dwellings – the Hohenschwangau Castle. Obsessed with romantic ideals and the music of German composer Richard Wagner, King Ludwig incorporated various themes from Wagner’s operas into the castle’s design. In 1869, its construction began. Ruins from Middle Age-era castles had to be removed in order to prepare its foundation. After King Ludwig’s mysterious death in 1886 (which I detailed earlier in the year in this piece I wrote about King Ludwig’s smaller castle – Schloss Linderhof), the still-unfinished Neuschwanstein was opened to the public. Today, it’s perhaps best known as being Walt Disney’s inspiration for the so-called Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Where in the World?
- Neuschwanstein Castle tickets can only be purchased in the village of Hohenschwangau at the designated ticket office. Make sure you have a ticket before making the 30-40 minute walk up the path to the castle. (It’s also possible to ascend to the castle entrance by horse-drawn carriage or shuttle bus.)
- Opening times vary by season. Be sure to check Neuschwanstein’s official site to confirm the hours and cost. If you’re visiting more than one of King Ludwig’s castles, consider the Königsschlösser combination ticket, which offers lower rates than if you purchased the tickets individually.
- Several readers have contacted me to ask when the autumn leaves are at their best at Neuschwanstein. I took these photos on October 20th. The fall colors peak at different times each year though, depending upon how cold the early-autumn period is in Bavaria.
- To make the trip independently via the German rail or by bus, consider getting the Bayern or Regio Ticket (website in German, but you can use Google Translate). These special tickets start at €20/25 for one passenger, and cost €6 for each additional passenger. You can use them to travel via bus and train throughout much of the region, making them a better deal if you want to make a few stops in a day. You can purchase tickets online, via a ticket machine, or in person.
- Interested in learning more about Bavaria’s beloved King Ludwig? Download the free app ‘Ludwig II – Walking in the Footsteps of a Fairytale King’ from the iTunes store.
- Are you looking for a guesthouse or hotel in Bavaria? Before my parents moved to fairy-tale Oberammergau, Shawn and I spent two nights at the Gästehaus Hildegard (affiliate link). We thought the beds were comfortable, the owners were helpful and kind, and the breakfast was tasty. The guest house is centrally located in the town too, and it’s not far from the Tiroler Gasse bus stop. The train station is also only about 1 km away. Oberammergau and Neuschwanstein Castle are about 1.5 hours by car/bus.
- Need more inspiration? This link contains an index of all my posts from Germany.
Photography & text Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.