Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day at Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle has been rated one of the best castles in all of Europe.  It's a huge tourist destination and is even the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty castle (although I think it's more like Disney World's Cinderella castle).  It's located in southwestern Bavaria, almost on the border of Austria.  It's about one hour outside of Munich and it was about a two and half hour drive from where we are in Stuttgart.  The past two weekends, we've been waiting for a rain free day to visit and finally got our chance today on Mother's Day!  Of course, it was still overcast, but we enjoyed our visit nonetheless.

Neuschwanstein Castle was built by Bavarian King Ludwig II.  Construction started in 1869, but stopped when Ludwig II died young in 1886.  It remains unfinished to this day.  It opened to the public only six weeks after Ludwig II's death.

Neuschwanstein Castle overlooks the village of Hohenschwangau, which is where we parked our car and picked up our reserved tickets. This village is also home to Hohenschwangau Castle (aptly named), which was built by Ludwig II's father, Maximilian II, and it's also where Ludwig II spent a good bit of his childhood.  It's seen above from the village as we waited for our bus up the mountainside.

Hohenschwangau Castle from up high on the mountain.

 You can see Neuschwanstein Castle from the village.  Unfortunately, the sides seen from the village are currently covered in scaffolding as they are preforming some restorations to the exterior.

Once we got off the bus, it was a 15 minute walk to the castle, and when we came around the bend, we got a great view.

 The entrance to the castle's courtyard.

 Coming through the archway into the courtyard.

Ludwig II was a big fan of opera composer, Richard Wagner, so he built Neuschwanstein as a homage to him and his work.  Many of the rooms inside had beautiful artwork that were depicting scenes from Wagner's operas.  He even created a false cavern because of a grotto in one of Wagner's operas.

We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but I was able to grab a few from the internet.  They aren't great quality, but they're better than nothing.  These are the rooms we were able to see on our tour.  We completely bypassed the second floor since nothing had been completed on that floor before Ludwig II's death.

 The first corridor we walked through to start our tour.

 The throne room.  There was no throne, however, since it hadn't yet been commissioned at the time of Ludwig II's death.

 The archways in the throne room

 The drawing room

Hall of the Singers

Ludwig II's bedroom

Dining room

The study

Scale model of Neuschwanstein Castle.

The courtyard from above.

 From the courtyard, we could see the bridge over the waterfall.  It's a great place where people go to take pictures of the castle.  We went there after our tour.  Click on the picture to see it larger.

We had some communication problems getting someone to take a picture of the three of us.  Of course, we picked one of the few people who wasn't speaking English, and after several attempts, got her to understand that we wanted the castle in the background and not covered up by us.

We couldn't see the Alps because it wasn't a completely clear day, so here's a pic of the Alps in the background so you can see how close it is to the mountains.

It was only in the high 40s today when we went, but I don't think I'd come in the winter.  It sure is beautiful then, though.

We had another unfortunate incident of Brady getting sick on the car ride to the castle.  We pulled over, gave him Andy's shirt for the hour left, and just put his coat on him when we got there.  I got him a souvenir shirt in the village (which I'd have bought anyway), and we put it on him before we got in the car to head home.  It didn't last long though, because he got sick again when we sat down to have lunch.  That time he got me, too.  I guess it goes to show that even on Mother's Day, you're still a mom and are there for your kid in sickness and in health ;)  The boys have decided that my present will be to pick out my own drndle (female equivalent to the male's lederhosen) in a few weeks when we go to pick out a larger set of lederhosen for Brady to wear when he gets a little older.

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