Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Germany. It is not surprising that its imposing appearance, slender towers and blue roof impressed even Walt Disney, who modelled several famous Disney castles based on it.
Opinions about the castle are divided. Some find it kitschy and overcrowded, while others return almost every year. It is certainly an architectural wonder in the middle of Europe.
Neuschwanstein Castle was built at the end of the 19th century by Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, who built it to make his childhood dreams finally. One of the unique features of the building is that the king loved and respected Richard Wagner so much that he decorated some parts of the castle with characters from his operas.
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|Country||Germany, Bavaria, Alps|
|Distance from Munich||2 hours / 120 km|
|Distance from Innsbruck||2 hours / 110 km|
|Opening hours||10:00 - 16:00 / 09:00 - 18:00|
|Prices||20 - 15 euros|
|Attractions nearby||Hohenschwangau Castle, Maria bridge|
The building has many special features. With its slender long towers, a real dream castle already in terms of its appearance.
Map - Where is Neuschwanstein Castle?
Neuschwanstein Castle is located in the southern part of Germany, in Bavaria, as part of the Bavarian Alps - almost on the Austrian border. It rises above the Pöllat gorge on a rocky hill. The nearest major city is Munich, which is approximately 2 hours away by car. You are next to Austria, on the border of the province of Tyrol.
- Distance to Munich: 120 km / 2 hours
- Distance to Innsbruck (Austria): 110 km / 2 hours
There are several private paid parking lots in the village of Hohenschwangau next to the castle, from which you can walk up in 40 minutes. It is worth choosing the P4 parking lot if space is still available.
- By horse-drawn carriage: If you can't or don't want to walk so much, it is possible to make most of the journey by horse carriage. This puts you about a 10-15 minute walk from the castle, shortening the journey considerably.
- By bus: The third option to reach Neuschwanstein Castle is the shuttle bus, which departs from the P4 parking lot under the Hohenschwangau Palace. This also puts you a 10-15 minute walk from the gate on the other side of the castle, from which you have to walk down a relatively steep slope. It is located next to the nearby famous Maria Bridge.
- Departure point for horse-drawn carriages: Hotel Müller, Alpseestraße, Hohenschwangau
- The starting point of the bus: from parking lot P4, Hohenschwangau Palace
- The price of the carriage: €7 up, €3 down per person.
- The price of the bus: €2.5 up, €1.5 down per person.
The castle is open between 9 am and 6 pm between April and October 15, while between October 16 and March, it can only be visited for a shorter time, between 10 am and 4 pm. It is worth arriving in the morning to avoid the largest crowds and tour the castle.
- Season: Jan-Dec
- Summer season: April - Mid-Oct
- Opening hours (summer season): every day, 09:00 - 18:00
- Winter season: Mid-Oct - March
- Opening hours (winter season): every day, 10:00 - 16:00
Although the guided tour is only half an hour, including the ticket collection and the walk to the castle, count on a 3-hour program. You will spend the whole day here if you also want to visit the bridge and the Hohenschwangau castle.
One of the most beautiful seasons to visit is autumn. It is worth combining your trip with Oktoberfest so that you can kill two birds with one stone.
Although the castle is impressive outside, you should also see the inside. To visit the castle, you have to buy an entrance ticket, either online or on-site. You can only see the castle as part of a group guided tour. Online ticket purchase is possible, which you can buy at the website.
- Adult ticket: 18 euro
- Reservation fee (online ticket): + 2.50 euros
- Duration of the tour: 30 minutes
(Prices might slightly increase every year!)
It is worth buying your tickets in advance, as you sometimes have to stand in line for several hours before you can get in, and the number of on-site tickets are (also) limited.
Tickets booked online can be picked up at the Hohenschwangau Castle visitor centre. The ticket includes a guided tour only in English or German.
Ticket collection for pre-purchased tickets:
Alpseestraße 12, D-87645 Hohenschwangau
Telephone +49 8362 93083-0
Maria Bridge (Marienbrücke)
If you're in the area, walk up to the Maria Bridge (Marienbrücke), named after Ludwig's mother. The castle can be seen in all its glory from the bridge, just as the 45 m high waterfall above the castle.
At that time the 93 m high arched bridge was built by the M.A.N. in 1866 on behalf of the royal family. It was considered a technological masterpiece at that time.
Interesting facts about the castle
So let's see what the most important interesting facts everyone should know about Neuschwanstein Castle are.
#1 Walt Disney modelled the Disney castle on this
The fame and beauty of Neuschwanstein Castle reached America. Walt Disney was also inspired by the castle's wonderful white limestone tower, so the similarity to the castle appearing in the Cinderella cartoon published in 1950 is not so surprising.
And it's not the only Disney product in which you can recognize the slender towers and deep blue roofs. Sleeping Beauty's fairytale palace in Disneyland also carries many familiar features.
#2 Wagner never saw the finished rooms
Ludwig II. drew inspiration from the operas of Richard Wagner for the decoration of many rooms of the castle. By a twist of fate, due to the early death of the monarch, Wagner never had the opportunity to visit the castle before it was completed.
#3 1.5 million visitors per year
Neuschwanstein Castle is visited by around 1.5 million tourists every year. Currently, this is the maximum capacity the monument can handle, which is one of the reasons why the number of tickets for the given day is limited.
On the busiest days, the castle is visited by up to 6,000 visitors! The busiest months are July and August.
#4 The castle was designed by a theatre designer
II. King Ludwig wanted a grand and impressive building, so he asked Christian Jank, a theatre set designer, to design the castle. Nevertheless, several architects helped with his work, as the construction of such a volume required extraordinary expertise. Thus, the Munich court architect Eduard Riedel, then Georg Dollman and Leo von Klenze monitored the large-scale plans.
#5 The Swan Knight's Castle
The Swan Knight is also the protagonist of Wagner's opera of the same name, from which the castle takes its name. It is the only addition that the former castle was the seat of the Schwangau knights, and their symbol was also a swan.
#6 Flushable toilet
One of the castle's modern achievements was the water-flushing toilet, which you can see when you visit Ludwigs' bedroom. This solution was a unique luxury in that era.
#7 360 rooms
In the huge five-level palace, you will find 360 rooms, of which only 14 were completed before the king's death. Most of the interior rooms were left completely undecorated. During the guided tour, you can only visit a few rooms.
#8 The bed that took years to make
II. Ludwig's bed, with its unique carvings and decorations, was made for at least 2, but according to some sources, 5 years and bears the marks of the work of fourteen carpenters and artists.
#9 Ludwig barely visited the castle
The ruler spent 11 nights in the castle he had dreamed of. To a large extent, his early and unclear death played a role in this.
#10 No throne room
Another special feature of the building is that you will not find a throne room in it since the throne room was not completed before the death of Ludwig.
#11 Neuschwanstein on the €2 coin
A little curiosity for coin collectors. The famous castle can also be found on the German 2-euro commemorative coin issued in 2010.
#12 Neuschwanstein at Legoland
In Legoland in Günzburg, located just 150 kilometres away, you can also find a copy of the castle built from LEGO bricks. In addition, the famous Bavarian castle was also placed on the field table of Miniland in Munich.
#13 Expect from failure
Ludwig allegedly built the Neuschwanstein castle because his power and acceptance decreased after the lost war. The ruler thought the only way to feel powerful and royal again was to build an imposing castle - which only a king can do.
The history of the castle
Before the castle was built, there was an old ruin in its place. Later, after the lost Prussian war of 1856, when Ludwig was faced with his father's former plans, he decided to build an impressive castle here and, at the same time, make his childhood dreams come true.
After careful planning, the foundation stone of the castle was laid a few years later, and construction began. Neuschwanstein was built between 1869 and 1886, the decoration of which did not continue after the king's sudden death.
II. Ludwig's death remains unclear to this day. A psychiatric committee had the monarch declared insane and arrested. He was found dead a few days later in the shallow water of Lake Starnberg together with one of the psychologists, von Gudden.
The castle was called New Hohenschwangau Castle until the death of Ludwig, and after his death, it was renamed, Neuschwanstein Castle.
The look of the castle
A steep, narrow road takes you up to the castle, which you will also walk on if you approach the magnificent building on foot or by horse-drawn carriage. The medieval castle combines many architectural styles, so it simultaneously bears Romanesque, Moorish, Gothic, Byzantine and Baroque features on its walls. You can reach the outer towers via spiral staircases.
The most impressive parts of the castle are the citadel - the Palas, the king's residence, the quarters built for noble ladies and the square-based tower. Ludwig was also actively involved in the planning phase, so the built castle became majestic and worthy of a ruler.
Many craftsmen assisted in constructing the castle and making the furniture, so Ludwig provided many people with work and income after the lost Prussian war.
The castle has more than 300 rooms, but most of its decorations were not completed before the king's death. Unfortunately, when visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, you can only visit a few rooms, as most rooms are not accessible to the public.
In many places, the decoration pays tribute to the protagonist of the well-known German legend, Lohengrin, the Swan Knight. These rooms include the throne room, King Ludwigs' quarters and the singers' hall, all located in the citadel.
In the citadel, be sure to pay attention to the fresco depicting Lohengrin, for which the king issued many detailed orders, such as the tilt of Lohengrin's neck, the golden chain or the exact location of the ship.
Although the medieval castle attracted attention with its different appearance, you can also find other special features in the building. They tried to use all the modern technology available at the end of the 19th century during its construction, so it is not so surprising that steam engines, electricity and an advanced heating system were built into it, just like in Ludwig's other castles. The previously mentioned flushing toilet and the water pipe leading to it are also modern achievements.
It is important to mention that Hohenschwangau castle is also extremely close, and you can exchange a combined ticket.
The admission prices of Hohenschwangau Castle can be booked online for adults and children.
- Adult prices: 23.50 euros
- Child prices: 13.50 euros
- Kids under 6 yrs old: 2.50 euros
(Prices might slightly increase every year!)
Although the outside of the castle can be viewed for free, we recommend that you go inside and see it from the inside once you're there.
Many people do not visit the old Hohenschwangau Castle - where Ludwig II was raised. If you are short on time and only have the opportunity to see one of the castles, choose Neuschwanstein Castle.
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