The Castles of the Bavarian Alps
With castles all over Germany, we had to see one while we were here. With Munich as our home base, we set off on a day trip to see some of Ludwig’s Castles in all their glory.
The first stop was the Linderhof Palace, where Ludwig II spent most of his time. This palace is not very large and although it was copied from the Versailles Palace in France, it fades in comparison to the grandeur of Versailles. While there is no picture taking inside, I can assure that you will see tons of 14 and 24 karat gold leaf paint, impressive furniture, chandeliers, and even a miniature version of the Hall of Mirrors.
We made a brief stop to see the beautiful town of Oberammergau for some shopping and walking around. Oberammergau is known for their wood carvings and the Passion Play that the town performs every 10 years (since 1634!). The buildings remind me of a place where Hansel and Gretel might live, except the houses aren’t made of candy and I didn’t see any witches. The backdrop of the Alps among the town is breathtaking.
After galavanting around Oberammergau, we made our way to Schwangau for the highlight of our day – The Neuschwanstein Castle. New-Schwan-Steeeen..
A castle in the hills located in Schwangau, Germany, is a stop along Germany’s famous Romantic Road. Mad King Ludwig II had this gem below built in the 1800s as his fantasy retreat. Today, it is the number one tourist attraction in Germany.
This Castle was inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disney Land.
You can get to this marvel by a big bus tour as we did, but you can also rent a car and drive here, or take the train to Füssen and bus over from there. However you decide is fine, just know that a guided tour is required to enter inside. You can come armed with your ticket purchased in advance.
Before even leaving the United States for this trip, I knew that the only place to get the BEST picture of the Neuschwanstein Castle was from Mary’s Bridge (proof is my stunning photo above!). The tour guide made the announcement on the bus that Mary’s Bridge was closed to traffic, and that we would only have time to view the castle from the bridge BEFORE starting our tour of the inside. The tour guide also mentioned that the path was snow and ice covered, but that “it can be done.” Based on the map that was provided to us, it was a 40 minute walk (one way) from the bus to the bridge. Another option to reach the Castle are the horse carriages that will take visitors up most of the grueling hill, but not the section to Mary’s Bridge. Knowing our moms weren’t going to do the Mary’s Bridge part, my cousin and I knew that the two of us were. As soon as we could get out of the bus, we told our moms that we would meet them before the tour time in the courtyard of the Castle. The horse carriage line was too long. We took off speed walking.
This hike is definitely at an incline. Pretty much the entire stretch. Once you reach the section for those going to Mary’s Bridge only, you get a good view of King Ludwig II’s father’s residence, the Hohenschwangau Castle. And yes, a lot of the German words seem difficult for us Americans to pronounce..
We slipped, shuffled, and climbed over a couple of short fences to get there, but we finally made it to Mary’s Bridge. Trust me, it was worth it. We made it with plenty of time to get our pictures and still get back to the front of the castle to meet in time for the tour.
No picture taking allowed inside the Castle. Sad face.. This seems common in many attractions throughout Germany that I’ve visited.
I have heard prior to my visit that the outside of the Castle is more impressive than the inside. I don’t think that’s true (but I’m entitled to my opinion). The inside of the Neuschwanstein Castle was also impressive. It even has a grotto themed room for those that wish they were mermaids in another life. This Castle was not completely finished before King Ludwig II’s mysterious death. In the Throne Room, the ceiling is painted with beautiful religious scenes, and the mosaic floor contains scenes of nature and animals. The throne was to be situated between the two. King Ludwig II felt that he (as King) should sit between God (the ceiling) and Nature (the floor). The throne was not there, as it was not delivered before his death.
The beautiful Singer’s Hall room, depicted a large, familiar looking mural on the wall. If I could only say one word to describe this specific mural, it would be “Bambi.”
..More of the Mad King Story..
Perhaps it was the extravagant spending to build multiple Castles led to King Ludwig II being called the “Mad” King, or maybe because the people thought that since he was different, he was crazy. Maybe it was a combination of both. During his time ruling, it was said that he was not spending enough time in the town to do his duties; although, I have heard that he never spent the town people’s money on his lavish castle requirements. At only the age of 40, his body was found dead in a nearby lake, and no one knows exactly what happened. Almost immediately after his death, his Castles were being toured..
On the walk back down to end the visit, we grabbed a mug of Glüwein. This mulled wine is served hot and is sure to warm you right up. It came in a surprisingly cute little souvenir mug that still brings me happy memories to this day whenever I use it.
We were so fortunate to visit these attractions during the off season. I can imagine this place is crazy during the summer months. Even though this is a “tourist” item, it’s a definite must. Also, I am a firm believer in making the best effort for the following rule – do not travel all the way to (any) famous monument or attraction such as this and not go inside.
Is it possible to walk across the bridge when coming down from the castle? Or is it only possible to access the bridge before going up?
The bridge is on the opposite side of the entrance to the castle – so it is further than the castle itself. When you get to the top of the road leading up to the castle (either by walking or taking the horse carriage), you will see the entrance with people waiting in the space outside of the gate. You continue to the right and follow the path that leads to the bridge. Then, you can double back to the castle entrance. With the bridge being high on our list, we made sure to do it first because we knew we wouldn’t have a lot of time after the tour. Also, to go inside the castle you must be on time, so allow enough time to return to the main gate (that you walked past previously). I’d suggest seeing how long it takes for you to walk from the main gate to the bridge and allow for the same in the return.
thanks so much for your answer 🙂