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In December I had the opportunity to live out a childhood dream of visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. The castle is situated in a small town called Füssen in Bavarian Germany, close to the Austrian border. It is a picturesque town which relies heavily on tourism and there are very few times when it is not busy with visitors from around the world wanting to view its famous castles. I went to Munich not really knowing much about the castle or how to get there and around so I thought it would be useful to review the castle, how to get there and various other aspects in order to pass on information to any potential visitors. = History of the castle = The Neuschwanstein castle is the Disney castle; the one that Walt Disney based his Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland around and used the design of for his Disney films logo. However, the majority of people would recognise the castle from its use in the filming of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The castle was commissioned by "Mad" King Ludwig II of Bavaria who wanted to create a retreat based around the work of his favourite composer and friend, Richard Wagner. The King died shortly before the castle was complete under suspicious circumstances and only lived in the castle for 172 days in total. It was opened to the public almost immediately afterwards, despite King Ludwig's desire to keep the public out of the castle. It has since become one of Europe's most popular attractions with over 1.3 million visitors a year. = Getting to Füssen = We were staying in Munich where many of the castles' visitors travel from. Trains run from Munich to Füssen hourly and the journey takes just over two hours which we didn't realise at the time or we would have headed to the station earlier in the day! We paid 31 Euros for a two person return ticket to Füssen which seemed reasonable. The train journey was really enjoyable and in the December snow the scenery was beautiful. We took the opportunity to take lots of pictures along the way, even spotting a few cross country skiers trying to travel in several feet of snow! I couldn't believe that trains were still operating with so much snow around - it was obvious we weren't in England anymore! When we arrived at Füssen station we popped into the Tourist Information office who were very helpful and told us which bus to get to Hohenschwangau (the nearest village to the castles). This journey took less than 10 minutes and the driver shouted out that this was the stop for the King's castles which was really helpful as the whole bus disembarked there! Hohenschwangau was a small village which was obviously geared up for tourists. In fact the only shops or buildings that I saw were hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, cafes and ticket offices! = Tickets = Tickets had to be purchased from one of the booths in the village. Individuals can not enter the castles without being part of a tour so we had to buy the tour tickets which were 9 Euros per person or 17 Euro for the "Königsticket" which allows entry to both the Neuschwanstein and nearby Hohenschwangau castles. However, if you don't want to actually go into the castle you can walk right up to it free of charge. They also have free entry for children under 18 years old which I thought was excellent. The man who sold us the tickets explained the system to us and that there were tickets available for a tour starting in 15 minutes and then one starting in an hour. Even though we thought there might be a chance of getting there we decided on the one starting in an hour so that we could walk up to the castle and take in the scenery. If you miss the tour you are booked on you have to buy a new ticket - they will not make allowances for any late-comers. The castle is open daily as follows: April - September: 9 am - 6 pm October - March: 10 am - 4 pm === Getting to the castle === My partner and I chose to walk up to the castle as we were assured it would take 25-30 minutes and this would take us up to the top in good time for our tour. It was a steep winding road which was hard work, especially as it was covered in snow and very icy in parts. Everytime a horse and carriage trotted past us full of smug people we realised we had made a mistake in walking and I did keep whining to Alex that I wanted to walk back down and get a ride! He didn't let me, however, and made me carry on, even carrying my handbag as I was sure that was why I was struggling! I was really surprised that the horse and carriages could get up the hill in such snowy conditions - they are obviously well trained! We finally got to a point where it looked like we had arrived, however I was quickly assured that this was actually the Hohenschwangau castle and we were only half way to the Neuschwanstein castle! I managed to get Alex to let me take a break under the false pretence that I wanted to take photos of the scenery and especially the Hohenschwangau, which actually turned out to be very nice. After struggling up the steep hill for another 10 minutes we arrived at a few stalls selling castle memorabilia and a Bratwurst seller! Hallelujah! We took the opportunity to take tonnes of photos from here as we could make out the huge Neuschwanstein castle looming above us and the shots were quite amazing. I was getting so excited by this point - I think I half expected the cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to be there in full costume singing! Another 5 minutes walk and we were finally at the castle...and a toilet! Phew! The toilets at the top weren't great but better than I would have expected from public toilets at the top of a hill! As I walked in, two American women shouted after me "It's open? We didn't realise!". Apparently they had been walking around trying to find someone to let them in to the toilets as they thought they were locked. Clearly they hadn't tried the door! There were 5 small toilet cubicles, all of which were quite dirty, mainly because of all the snow that had been trodden in. The floor was soaking and covered in mud but the toilets themselves were fine and there was a decent supply of toilet paper which can never be taken for granted in public toilets! I had heard beforehand that I might have to pay for the toilet but they were definitely free of charge! === The castle === When we reached the castle we still had 25 minutes until out tour started. It was freezing cold and we had no wish to be outside but nowhere else to go! In my wellies, big coat, scarf, hat and gloves I was okay, but Alex in his silly trainers and lack of gloves was freezing and wet and getting rather miserable! We spent about 5 minutes taking pictures of each other in front of the castle until a nice Chinese couple offered to take our photo together ïS The castle was absolutely stunning and I felt like I was part of a fairytale! Even though the castle is up a huge hill high up in the Bavarian mountains, I half expected it to sit magically on the top of its own mountain with lots of mist hovering around the bottom. So it wasn't quite like that but it really was something special and one of the most beautiful locations I have ever witnessed. When we had exhausted every angle with the camera we made our way into the castle grounds to hang out in the souvenir shop and wait for the tour to start! So the display board finally told us it was time for tour 289 and Alex and I ran over to the gate to try and get towards the front of the queue. Unfortunately his ticket wouldn't swipe to allow him in so we had to wait for someone to let us in and then had to run through the catch up with the gang! We made our way through some corridors until we finally entered a room that looked like it was part of the actual castle and we were greeted by our tour guide Tom. Tom was German and spoke with a very strong accent, to the point that you couldn't tell what he was saying unless you were very close to him and really thought about it. He obviously knew all the information about the castle but I felt like he didn't put much effort into the tour and that he probably said the same thing every hour. He wasn't particularly receptive to questions either and I felt that we were rushed around the castle. === Inside the castle === For the grandest of castles the interior was oddly disappointing. I actually couldn't believe what I was seeing! I honestly felt like someone had taken a bunch of old paintings and put them in brand new, obnoxiously coloured rooms. It just didn't seem fitting with the wonderful exterior or anything I've seen in a castle before. The tour starts on the second floor of the castle in the red corridor which is covered in red tiles. This leads to a staircase which takes the tour into the Entrance Hall decorated with huge oil paintings on the wall. From there we entered the most spectacular room in the castle, 'the Throne Room' which ironically is missing the throne! It is the most grand of all of the rooms with the most expensive item being the huge chandelier suspended from the ceiling weighing 900kg, created to resemble the Byzantine Crown. The area where the throne should sit is up a flight of 5 white stairs which are made of marble and the platform is surrounded with paintings of the 12 Apostles. There is also a mosaic on the floor which took years to create. I couldn't believe how new everything looked considering it was built in 1864. I almost felt like it had been decorated 10 years ago but designed to look like it was from the 19th century. The dining room is another elaborately decorated room which didn't stand out much in my opinion and we were ushered through this room very quickly. The next room we visited was the King's bedroom which is decorated in a gothic style with lots of wood carvings and oil paintings. The paintings in the bedroom depict the story of Tristan and Isolde; a story he grew to love through Richard Wagner's operatic interpretation. The next room and one of the rooms which made the biggest impression on me was the Living Room which was decorated with hundreds of swans. King Ludwig dedicated the room to the legend of the Swan Knight Lohengrin; another opera by Wagner. The room includes a big porcelain swan and lots of swan designs both in paintings and carvings all around the room. Next came the strangest part of the whole castle and something I didn't expect. Joining the Living Room to the King's Study was the indoor Grotto designed by a landscape architect Dirrigl. The grotto has an artificial waterfall and artificial illumination from above to light up the area effectively. It would have looked more appropriate in an aquarium or even outside! It certainly did add something to the tour though! It let straight through to the Study, another gothic style room which references the history of the Wartburg Castle through paintings on the walls. We were then led up to the fourth floor to see the Singers' Hall which takes up the entire floor. It's a very impressive room which was built for the King to host big banquets and musical performances, which sadly King Ludwig did not live to see. It is a huge room, again with lots of paintings and expensive looking gold and wooden carvings and had stunning views of the country and mountains. It was in this room that Tom ended the guided tour and showed us the way to the exit. We followed a couple of staircases down to the ground floor where we found the servant's quarters which were still quite elaborate. The kitchen, like the rest of the rooms, was very well preserved and looked very modern as it had been fitted in the last few years! Straight down the corridor and we were in a well stocked souvenir shop and then straight out into the cold! Sadly no photographs can be taken once on the tour so I haven't been able to include any here except a sneaky one of the servant's quarters. = Leaving Neuschwanstein = So when our tour ended Alex and I decided to pelt it down the hill as fast as possible to try and beat the crowds from our tour to the bus queue. It was quite amusing running down an icy hill but we made it down in less than 10 minutes and managed to jump on a bus back to Füssen just before it set off, even though we had to stand up. This is where our day took a turn for the more difficult... after waiting at the train station for half an hour, a man from Tourist Information came to the platform to inform us there would be no more trains to Munich departing from Füssen. There had been a lot of snow fall and this had disrupted the tracks in the area with the nearest open train station now an hour away. The man told us to get on one of the two coaches parked outside the station and that they would take us to this station, although most people on the coach didn't seem to have understood this and thought they would be taking us back to Munich. Anyway, everything turned out fine and we were taken to the station no problem where we were met by a train to take us to Munich Hauptbahnhof (main station) and we were only 20 minutes later than we should have been! = After thoughts = Annoyingly we missed out something that I have since learned is a key part in visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle. Even though we had a great time taking pictures outside the castle, Marienbrücke (Mary's Bridge) apparently offers the best views of the Neuschwanstein Castle and is the location that all the famous shots of the castle are taken from. It is approximately 25 minutes walk from the castle so definitely worth knowing beforehand rather than getting there and realising you don't have enough time! The bridge crosses a large gorge, with steep cliffs on both sides. Tourists can cross the bridge and take pictures of the castle with themselves in the background. I would absolutely love to go back to visit Neuschwanstein in summer as I've heard it's completely different, although summer is the peak season for tourists. All in all, despite the disappointing interior, Neuschwanstein was a fantastic day out and I'm so happy to be able to say that I've been! Well worth a visit if you're in Germany - a real highlight of the country. (Ignore the picture, it's terrible and it doesn't look like that! I'll ask Dooyoo if they can upload one of mine instead!)
Neuschwanstein Castle I've just spent the most amazing summer ever - 2 months out of the UK, mostly in France but also a brief stay in Italy as well as a week in the south of Germany. Since I'm a French and German student who hadn't been to Germany since 2002, my wonderful boyfriend suggested that we spend a week in Bavaria, an area renowned for being picturesque, passing through the equally renowned Black Forest en route. We drove from Paris to the east of France where we spent three nights before driving through the Black Forest, past Lake Constance and eventually up to Augsburg where we spent 6 nights. Ok, so it's not the most direct route but we got to see plenty of amazing things. We bought a guide book as neither of us know the region and from this we selected things we wanted to visit based on what was practical - money- and time-wise. Neuschwanstein was top of the list of things to visit - it was certainly highly recommended by our guide book, and both of us had seen amazing photos of it. So on Tuesday, 25th July we set off for Neuschwanstein. There was no address in the guide book, just rough directions, so we managed to get close enough using GPS - we followed directions for Füssen, hoping the castle would be well sign-posted. For a Frenchman who didn't know the German for 'castle' (and even after I told him was convinced it was 'Schlaus') finding Neuschwanstein would prove a little trickier from here. Because of that, here are a few things you know: - It's near Füssen or Hohenschwangau, full details on how to get there can be found on the website. - The German for 'castle' is 'Schloss' - The castle (or rather castles, but I'll come to that later) are sign-posted, but only in German. - I can't remember exactly what the signs said, but look in particular for the word 'Schlösser' or 'Schlößer' - I don't remember seeing the name 'Neuschwanstein' anywhere. There may have also been a picture of a historical-looking building on these signs, but I can't remember. Parking is sign-posted too. There are two car parks (perhaps one for each castle, though I can't see how it makes a difference). In any case, we parked in the first one we came to, marked 'Neuschwanstein' in huge letters. We were greeted by a man I presume to be German, though having seen our number plate he greeted us straight away with a 'Bonjour'. It's therefore a fairly safe bet that these carpark attendants will speak English, though I'm of the opinion that, at the very least, a simple 'Guten Tag' and 'danke' will never go amiss. The car parks are nothing special, and I couldn't tell you how many places are available, but the carpark attendant, who also took somewhere in the region of 4 Euro from us, directed us to a free spot. Again I can't be 100% sure about the price we paid, but I'm certain that it was no more than this. Near the car parks are toilets, a restaurant and quite possibly also a gift shop. I'm fairly certain you have to pay to use the toilets here. There are a few large stands here with information about the castles and then signs to the ticket offices and to the castles. We didn't hang about, we decided to make our way to the ticket office. On the way you'll pass a few more shops and restaurants - we didn't go into any of them and as such I didn't pay too much attention but they all seemed very pleasant.TICKETS The queue-ing system confused me a little to begin with, but I think that's because they make such a big deal about how you have to get into the right queue, depending on if you're buying group tickets, if you want to visit both castles...and so on. There's a little board with a diagram to help you figure it out. Inside the ticket office there are TV screens which display tour times, photographs and other information in a variety of languages. Also available in the queue are information sheets in German or English. I was a bit apprehensive about having to speak in German to buy the tickets so I didn't pay as much attention as I should have done. I now regret this. Again, all will be revealed. Pricewise: (taken directly from the website) Adult admission: 9.00 Euro Concession: 8.00 Euro Combination ticket "Königsticket" for Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle on the same day: 17.00 Euro or 15.00 Euro concession I've no idea what qualifies as 'concession' - we definitely didn't get student discount...but I can tell you that children under 18 years get in for free. I read this on the information sheet, there's no mention on the website though which is a bit strange as that's a really good deal. Usually you're an 'adult' in the eyes of ticket offices as soon as you can walk! You can only visit the castle as part of a guided tour and only on the same day as you bought the ticket. Having successfully bought your ticket, you need to look carefully at the tour number and the time printed on it. You need to be in the courtyard of the castle at this time for the start of your tour. If you miss it, you have to buy a new ticket. Guided tours are available only in German or English. If you require it, audio-guides are available in 10 other languages. I don't recognise all of the flags, but most notably French, Italian, Spanish and Japanese. Since I wasn't quite sure how the audio-guides worked and didn't want to have to take a different tour to the one my boyfriend took, we opted for a guided tour in English. REACHING THE CASTLES You've bought your ticket, now you need to get there for your tour. You have three options: - Walk. From the ticket centre Neuschwanstein is 30 mins (approx) Hohenschwangau is 20 mins (approx) - Horse-drawn carriage - price and start points depend on which castle you're visiting. It's more expensive for Neuschwanstein and the return tickets are cheaper than the outgoing journey tickets. - Shuttle bus - this will only take you to Neuschwanstein, infact it will drop you off near Mary's Bridge. The outward journey is 1,80 Euro, the return is 1 Euro. A return ticket is 2,60 Euro THINGS TO BEAR IN MIND - Horse-drawn carriages and shuttle buses will only run in suitable weather (eg. not in snow or ice) - The shuttle bus isn't suitable for physically handicapped people because the path from the bridge to the castle is very steep (that's not an exaggeration, I can vouch for that) - the walk between the castle and the bridge is 15 mins (approx). - The transportation companies are run independently of entrance times so it's your own responsibility to make sure you're there on time. If you miss the tour you'll have to buy a new ticket. ------------------------------ We chose to walk, and since we had plenty of time we took our time with the uphill walk. The "30 minute" walk took us about 20. About halfway and three-quarters of the way up you'll find shops and toilets (I know for sure that you have to pay for these - it's 50 cents to use a cubicle, I'm reliably informed it's free to use urinals though). I didn't use these toilets but from the sink area they looked to be acceptable. The SHOPS aren't the most reasonably priced shops you'll fine - we didn't really spend much time in the shops, but the prices I did notice weren't terribly cheap. You'll find the usual sorts of souvenirs on sale, I noticed there was a fair amount of variety and choice. We only bought a bottle of water because it was a very hot day and we were dying of thirst. For this reason I'd definitely recommend taking your own drink and maybe even a bit of food if you're going to make a day of it (which you probably will if our experience is anything to go by). MY EXPERIENCE Having sold us our tickets, the lady reminded us to check the tour number and time and to make sure that we were there on time. Our tickets said 16:45. Fine, no problem. Until I looked up at the clock and saw that it wasn't even 13:00 yet. Since we had no idea what lay ahead of us in terms of the walk, we decided to tackle that and explore the surroundings of Neuschwanstein. I'd advise comfortable shoes and if you're visiting in summer think about sun protection and other provisions for keeping cool. We found ourselves at the castle entrance in blazing sunshine with a three-hour wait for our tour. My boyfriend suggested we walked back down to the valley and explored a bit down there. Naturally I laughed, hoping he was joking, since I didn't fancy repeating that walk in the heat, knowing that there wasn't much to do in the valley either. Eventually we decided to go in search of liquid refreshment and we passed the time sitting on a wall, watching the world go by and talking about French grammar of all things!! This is where I reger not having looked closer at the information sheet I picked up. In the three-hour wait I really should have given it another glance, as opposed to practising my French, and the reason is this: On the back there is a MAP. About 25 minutes before our tour was due to start we noticed a sign to "Marienbrücke". "What's that?" my boyfriend asked me. "Something to do with a bridge I think, I'm not sure". As it turns out I was right. What a look at the map would have shown us is a photograph of the view of the castle that you'll get from this bridge. From a clearing through the trees we could see the bridge, jam-packed with teeny-tiny little people. It seemd quite a way away (I know now it's approximately 15 minutes on foot) and we didn't know what it was. Since it was approaching our guide time, we decided not to bother. This now seems like a mistake, having seen photos taken from this bridge it's probably one of the best views of the castle. THE TOUR I know what you're thinking...about time! All this review and I'm only just really mentioning the castle itself. Well, now you begin to get a sense of what our day was like. An electronic board at the entrance to the castle's courtyard finally displayed our tour number and after a quick trip to the toilets here (no charge this time) we waited in the court. The system is electronic so when your number appears on the electronic boards in the courtyard you insert your tickets and this allows you pass through some turnstiles. We waited a few minutes (thankfully in the shade) before being ushered inside. I remember walking along some fairly unremarkable corriders and up some stairs. We weren't really sure where we were going and I didn't notice a tour guide, we just followed the people in front. I noticed a sign for people to collect audio-guides but I'll admit I've got no idea how that works, how it differs from the tour we had for example. We then waited in a room until the tour guide arrived. I believe she was German but her English was very good. At times though I did find her accent a little difficult to understand. Nevertheless my boyfriend (who isn't a native nor fluent English speaker) understood her well. She was very friendly, making jokes and regularly asking us if we had questions. -------THE CASTLE----- For those of you who don't know, Neuschwanstein is one of three castles whose construction was started by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. By all accounts he was a bit of a character, his nickname 'Mad King Ludwig' should give that away. Not a fan of political life, he prefered the arts - in particular he was a good friend and huge fan of Wagner's - and there are references throughout Neuschwanstein castle. In the 1870's King Ludwig handed his power over to the Prussian king and construction on his castles stopped, due to a lack of funds. Then, after his mysterious death in 1886, his castles were finally opened to the public. However, a lot of the rooms remained undecorated - only 14 rooms were finished before Ludwig's death, and these are all you'll see on the tour. Hohenschwangau, the other castle near here, belonged to Ludwig's father. MY OPINIONS I have to be honest, I wasn't a fan of the style of this castle. As we approached, even the exterior disappointed me. From a distance it looks magical, like a fairytale castle, but up close it seems much plainer. I was also disappointed to discover that it doesn't sit majestically on top of a mountain as I'd once believed having seen photos. Photography and filming are strictly forbidden inside the castle - my boyfriend joked that this is so as not to shatter the 'fairytale' beautiful image that everyone has of this castle. Well, on the website there are pictures of the interior, but looking at them doesn't bring back the memories of what I saw. I'm not saying that they're not the photographs of the interior, just that I can't make a link between the photos and what I saw on the day. This is because I felt that nothing really stood out about the interior of this castle - a lot of seemed very plain and 'last-minute'. Ludwig II was very impressed by Versailles, whch hs visited twice, and though his other two castles (Linderhof and Chiemsee) are filled with references and replicas to Versailles, there are much less to be found at Neuschwanstein. It really felt like Ludwig II had failed to stamp his identity or his authority on the castle - we also visited Linderhof and I felt much more a sense of his presence (even though nowhere did he ever have his portrait displayed) and authority. It's hard to explain what I mean, it just seemed a bit watered down and not at all what I was expecting. Talking of the unexpected, Ludwig II even had a grotto constructed inside his castle. It's all a bit strange. At Linderhof there's also a grotto, but this is outside, not between two rooms! In particular I disliked how dark the rooms felt. There was a lot of fine craftsmanship and hard work which had gone into constructing this castle - I remember hearing about how long two woodcarvers had spent just in Ludwig II's bedroom and thinking how impressive it was. However the room just seemed a little dark and dull with all the dark wood. Of course, I know that they have to be careful with regards to light in order to preserve everything. I felt that the electronic boards and huge turnstiles further detracted from the enchanting castle atmosphere that I thought would have been more present. There was even metal flooring in parts of the castle! On the way out there were spiral staircases which the servants would have used to access the kitchen - well I'm fairly sure at the time that they wouldn't have been the metal staircases with black and yellow tape that they now are. Just little things like that really detracted from the experience. I've visited a lot of castles over the summer, most of which had some kind of restoration in progress (for example, the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, where there was a lot of scaffolding on part of the outside of the castle), but I only really experienced this feeling of disappointment here at Neuschwanstein. All in all disappointing is definitely the word. Once the tour had ended we were directed to the gift shop and kitchens ("if we wanted to visit those"). We made a hasty exit. On our way out I noticed the usual sorts of souvenirs for sale - books, mugs, magnets, postcards etc. I couldn't give you an idea of prices but souvenirs usually come at a price. We chose not to spend too long in the kitchens, but you could probably spend about 10-15 minutes in there if you had a good look around. I'm not going to use the 'd' word again...but when we thought that we'd spent 9 Euro each for a 3 hour wait and a 35 minute tour of an unfinished castle, we were hardly satisfied with our day. The views from the top, however, were pretty amazing. When we started to wander towards Mary's Bridge, we found a corner with a bench and breathtaking views. It was a bit push-and-shove trying to take a photo, so I'm glad in a way that we didn't go as far as the bridge. Though it's definitely not what I was expecting, I'm glad that I've seen for myself. The area is very very beautiful. Since we hadn't banked on spending the best part of five hours there, we hadn't brought food with us, so we were very hungry by the time we left. We managed to find a Spar (to my surprise) about a 10-15 minute drive away so we bought some food and had a make-shift picnic by a nearby lake which was very pleasant. Also in the area, perhaps worth a mention is 'Romantische Straße' or 'Romantic Road' - a stretch of road thought to show typically German scenery and culture. It's well sign-posted and well worth a look if you're driving. So would I recommend Neuschwanstein as a day out? I think it's something you have to see and judge for yourself. What is my taste might not be yours and vice versa. But prepare yourself for a long day (unless we were just really unlucky and turned up on a busy day when all previous tours were booked up). Bring provisions and if you have the time consider going to Mary's Bridge. From the photos I'd guess it's well worth it for the view. I've selected 'no' as my recommendation just because of the overwhelming sense of disappointment we felt after our visit. I don't think it would make a very good day out for the family, I can't imagine how you'd keep young children amused for three hours if you had to wait as long as we did, and the tour isn't necessarily very child-friendly. In other castles I visited I noticed some of the guides dressed up and were very animated and lively in their tours and I noticed the children responded well to this. I didn't notice very many children at all in Neuschwanstein so I can't really comment if the guides would perhaps adapt to having young children as part of the tour or not. However, it's definitely worth it for the views. Bear in mind that you only need to a ticket for castle entrance, so you could walk right up to the castle and even into the courtyard without need for a ticket (as far as I'm aware). VISITOR INFORMATION - No dogs allowed in the castle - Bulky items (pushchairs, rucksacks etc) need to be deposited in the cloakroom (I've found no mention of cost) - There are special tours which take place late on a Wednesday for disabled visitors - visit the website for more information - Apparently you can book in advance but this will cost extra. www.neuschwanstein.de/english/service - On this website you'll find ticket information, opening times, how to get there, the history of the castle and some photographs. RANDOM TRIVIA: If Neuschwanstein Castle looks familiar to you and you can't work out why, that's because it's been used in several films, most notably Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (as Bollinger28 correctly spotted and commented!) It's also featured on the cover for the Blur single 'Country House'. ©lora44 - also a member of Ciao UK
Neuschwanstein Castle (or Schloss in German) (http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/palace/index.htm) is located near Fussen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. Whilst working over there for a few months during my time at University, I visited the castle a few times and it really is stunning. For those of you who don't know this castle, it was featured in the film version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and also on the cover of the Blur single 'CountryHouse'. The castle stands high up on a mountain/rock above the valley and basically is the medievil castle that all little girls dream about when they dream of princes and princesses. But unlike the princess castles at Disneyland and other such themeparks, this castle was built in the 1800s and completed and opened in 1886! It was built by 'mad' King Ludwig II of Bavaria deliberately in the style of an old German Knight's castle, and said to have been built as a homage to Richard Wagner. When you approach the castle from the deep valley below it, you just cannot stop staring at it as it just looks so magical and beautiful towering high above with the snow capped mountains of the Bavarian Alps in the background. The castle is white (limestone) and has several tall pointy towers typical of a medievil style castle and will really take your breath away! From the valley below, you can park in one of several carparks and look around various tourist/souvenir shops located there. Then, you can walk up the windy paths to the castle entrance, or better still take a horse-drawn carriage up to the top which is way more relaxing and easier on the legs! We took a tour of the castle inside ( the main rooms only) where you learn more about the history of the castle and King Ludwig, but you can walk up and look at the outside for free. The rooms are very ornately and elegantly decorated as you would expect and certainly are worth a look at. The tours last around half an hour and cost me around 7 Euros per ticket then, so I expect will not be much more now. They conduct the tours in German and English too. Overall this is a wonderful fairytale castle and is certainly worth a look at if you are in the area!