Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Neuschwanstein – The Fantasy Castle

When most tourists find out about Neuschwanstein, they immediately consider planning a trip to Germany. It’s no wonder consider the Bavarian castle is one of the most popular castles in Europe, located in a picturesque setting in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The castle was built by Ludwig II of Bavaria or Mad King Ludwig as homage to Richard Wagner, the King’s inspiring muse.

If the castle has triggered some kind of memory, don’t be surprised, it’s Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle in real life. Ludwig did not allow people to visit the castle so it wasn’t opened to the public until 7 weeks after the death of the king. Since 1886, over 50 million people have visited Neuschwanstein. It receives around 1.3 million visitors annually and 6,000 per day during the summer.

The castle was built in a neo-Romanesque style and meant to look older than it actually was. It had certain luxuries most castles did not have at that time, such as forced-air heating and indoor plumbing. Neuschwanstein was designed to be a stage for Wagner’s operas, many rooms evoking German mythology – the inspiration for the musician’s works. One of the most surprising rooms in the castle is Grotto, an artificial cave with stalactites and a waterfall, built as an image for Wagner’s opera “Tannhäuser.”

Even though it was designed according to medieval standards, the castle received several modern additions such as running water or flushing toilets. Since 1990, the Bavarian state spent 11.2 million Euros to renovate the castle and improve its appearance for visitors. Smart move considering it is now one of the most visited tourist attractions in all of Europe. In 2007, the castle was a finalist for the New Seven Wonders of the World competition. It didn’t make it but it is advertised as being the 8th world wonder.

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