Europe Travels

Neuschwanstein Castle

When we went to Munich this November it looked like a fairy tale. But it was only in Neuschwanstein Castle that the fairy tale got real. You may never have heard of it, but you could all recognize it as the inspiration behind the castles of the Disney movies.

(Scroll down for the Italian version)

 

Those who built it conceived it more as a scenography than an actual palace. King Ludwig II, the Mad King as many called him, took inspiration from the ancient German legends and the work of composer Richard Wagner of whom he was the greatest admirer. The castle was named after an hero of a Wagner’s opera, Lohenegrin, also known as the Knight of the Swan. And as a swan the castle hovers above the Bavarian mountains that it’s built upon.

Once he was detroned, Ludwig II wanted to create his own personal universe where he could still be king, a realm of beauty, an homage to the fairy tales he once heard as a child and then Richard Wagner glorified in his music. He himself took care of the design of the rooms and their dispositions, he even built an artifical grotto with a functioning waterfall. Even if it was made to look medieval, all the innovations of the time were present: a functioning telephone line, central heating and all the comforts that a true king deserves.

From Munich, the best way to the castle is the train to Füssen, a small mountain village straight out the nineteenth century. Fussen is very little, take your time to stroll around its little streets, look at the typical houses in German style and then look up towards the mountain, whose top in winter is lost among the white clouds.

There are no fancy places here, everything closes very early, but  if you get the chance try the local food. It’s like a meeting between the cool street food you can find in Munich and the original Bavarian cuisine, with its strong tastes and savory meats.

Once we arrived in Füssen (a two-hours train ride from Munich) there were few buses right next to the station that brought us directly to Hohenswangau, the town at the feet of the Castle. The return bus ticket costs 2,40€. There are also cabs that bring you to the castle but they are obviously more expensive.

After a ten minutes bus ride, we finally arrived at Hohenswangau. The ticket office and information point is very close to the bus station and it’s very easy to find. We didn’t booked our ticket in advance, but if you are planning a visit during the summer, you should consider buying them on their website since in that season queues can be even three hours long. Keep in mind that visits to the castle are scheduled, so you must be in front of the castle exactly at the time wrote on your ticket.

Once we bought the ticket, we wanted to reach the Marienbrücke bridge in order to see the iconic view of the castle. It takes around 30/45 minutes to get there. Obviously the road is a little bit sloping but if you think that it might be too hard walking to the bridge there’s a bus that takes you there.

Any way you choose to get there, try and savour the haunting beauty of the woods all around, their beautiful colors and perspectives that open at every road turn. If you have the chance, listen closely to the sound of the woods and you could hear, beyond the chirping of birds and the sound of leaves, the majestic roar of the waterfall.

From the bridge, the walk to the castle was short and easy. We picked one of the last tour of the day at 4PM but since we arrived at Hohenswangau around 10AM, after lunch we had no idea on how to spend our time till the visit, so keep that in mind.

The visit itself was very interesting and the guide told us King Ludwig’s story in every detail. The visit was very short, though, spanning for around ten or fifteen minutes. Walking inside those halls we imagined the kind of life which was led there, in the beautiful setting of the mountains, with the village so little under our feet that looked like a doll house.

Neuschwanstein Castle is the perfect place to soak up all the majestic beauty of the Bavarian scenery, and a great opportunity to relive the story of one of the most unique kings in Europe. If you’re in Munich you absolutely should go to Neuschwanstein to crown your visit.

One last tip: if you’re visiting in autumn/winter plan carefully your time schedule. After visiting the castle we were planning on having dinner in the village, but as soon as we got to the town center, we sadly found out that every restaurant was closed. Since we were sleeping in a hotel between Hohenswangau and Füssen, we had to go back to Füssen to have dinner and after that we took an half an hour walk back to the hotel, since buses stopped running (it was 8PM).

Quando abbiamo visitato Monaco questo Novembre ci sembrava di essere in una favola. Ma solo al castello di Neuschwanstein la favola è diventata realtà. Forse non ne avete mai sentito parlare ma lo riconoscerete come l’ispirazione dei castelli nei film della Disney.

I suoi costruttori l’hanno concepito più come una scenografia che come un palazzo vero e proprio. Il re Ludwig II o, come molti lo hanno chiamato, il Re Folle si è ispirato alle antiche leggende germaniche e alle opere del compositore Richard Wagner, di cui era il più grande ammiratore. Il castello prese il nome dell’eroe di un’opera di Wagner, Lohenegrin, conosciuto anche come il Cavaliere del Cigno. E come un cigno il castello si libra sopra le montagne bavaresi su cui è costruito.

Dopo che fu deposto, Ludwig II volle creare un suo personale universo dove poteva ancora essere un re, un regno di bellezze e un omaggio alle favole che udiva da bambino poi glorificate dalla musica di Richard Wagner. Il re stesso curò i progetti delle stanze e la loro disposizione, costruì persino una grotta artificiale con una cascata funzionante. E anche se il castello fu costruito con un aspetto medievale, tutte le innovazioni dell’epoca erano presenti: linee telefoniche, riscaldamento centralizzato e tutte le comodità che merita un re.

Da Monaco, la via più veloce per arrivare al castello è il treno per Füssen, un piccolo villaggio di montagna che sembra uscito dall’Ottocento. Fussen è molto piccola, prendetevi del tempo per passeggiare per le sue stradine, godetevi la vista delle sue tipiche case in stile tedesco e poi guardate verso la montagna la cui cima, in inverno, si perde fra nuvole bianche.

Non ci sono posticini eleganti qui e tutti i locali chiudono molto presto ma, se ne avete l’occasione, provate il cibo locale. È un incontro fra lo street food alla moda che potreste trovare a Monaco e l’originaria gastronomia bavarese con i suoi sapori forti e le sue carni speziate.

Una volta arrivati a Füssen (circa due ore in treno da Monaco) c’erano alcuni bus che ci hanno portato direttamente a Hohenswangau, la cittadina ai piedi del castello. Il bus per il ritorno costava circa 2,40 €. Ci sono anche taxi che portano direttamente al castello ma ovviamente sono più costosi.

Presi i biglietti, abbiamo voluto raggiungere il ponte di Marienbrücke per goderci l’iconica vista del castello. Per arrivarci ci vogliono dai trentacinque ai quaranta minuti. Ovviamente la strada è in forte pendenza, quindi se pensate che la camminata sia troppo ardua ci sarà un bus che vi porterà fino a lì.

In qualunque maniera deciderete di arrivarci, provate a godervi  la misteriosa bellezza dei boschi tutt’intorno, gli stupendi colori e gli scorci che si svelano a ogni curva della strada. Se potete, ascoltate con attenzione al rumore dei boschi e sentirete, dietro al cinguettare degli uccelli e al suono delle foglie, il ruggito maestoso della cascata.

Dal ponte, raggiungere il castello è facile e veloce. Abbiamo scelto uno degli ultimi tour della giornata, alle quattro del pomeriggio, ma dato che siamo arrivati a Hohenswangau per le dieci del mattino non avevamo idea di come passare il tempo fino alla visita. Tenetelo a mente.

La visita in sé è stata molto interessante e la guida ci ha raccontato la storia di re Ludwig in tutti i dettagli. Ma la visita è stata molto breve, dieci minuti o quarto d’ora circa. Mentre camminavamo per quei saloni abbiamo immaginato la vita che veniva condotta lì, nel meraviglioso scenario montano, col villaggio così piccolo laggiù che pareva una casetta per le bambole.

Il castello di Neuschawnstein è il posto perfetto per immergersi nella magnificenza del panorama bavarese e una grande opportunità per rivivere la storia di uno dei regnanti più unici di tutta Europa. Se state visitando Monaco, una visita a Neuschwanstein sarà il coronamento perfetto del vostro viaggio.

Un ultimo consiglio: se la vostra visita si svolge nei mesi autunnali o invernali, pianificate con attenzione la vostra tabella di marcia. Dopo la nostra visita al castello volevamo cenare al villaggio ma appena vi siamo tornati ci ha rattristato scoprire che tutti i ristoranti erano chiusi. E dato che il nostro albergo era fra Hohenswangau e Fussen, abbiamo dovuto tornare a Fussen per cenare e poi camminare per circa una mezz’ora fino al nostro albergo, dato che le corse in bus erano finite (erano circa le otto di sera).

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9 Comments

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    Camille
    May 21, 2017 at 4:19 PM

    Omg! I wanna go there so much! 🙁

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      Pietro Fiallo
      May 21, 2017 at 4:21 PM

      You must go there!! It was my second time there (my first was when I was a child) and it was still like living in a fairytale ?✨

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