The Fairy-Tale Castle of Mad King Ludwig
Nestled in the mountains of Bavaria, the fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein (New Swan Castle) stands as a king's tribute to the chivalry and magic of a mythical age.
The castle was the brainchild of Bavaria's “mad” King Ludwig Ⅱ. Inspired by Richard Wagner's operas, the young King Ludwig sought to re-create the legendary dreamworld of medieval knights and heroes. Accordingly, he employed scenic artists, sculptors, and stonemasons to turn that dreamworld into concrete reality.
In consultation with Wagner and various theatrical designers, plans for the castle were drawn up and the foundations laid in 1869. No expense was spared. Fourteen sculptors spent four-and-a-half years to complete the wood carvings in the king's bedroom. The floor of the throne room was composed of no fewer than 2 million stones. In all, 15 rooms were completed. Most depict scenes from the king's favorite operas---especially “Lohengrin,” the “Swan Knight.”
Like many an opera, Ludwig's life ended in tragedy.His fascination with castles led government officials to rebel. They accused him of neglecting his duty and forced him to abdicate. The following day, Ludwig was found drowned---in six inches of water.
But the mad king's unfinished dream lives on---a tribute to a “once upon a time” that never was.
It became everyone's idea of a fairy-tale castle, and the prototype for Walt Disney's Castle of the Sleeping Beauty.