Saturday, 11 April 2009

Crazy man’s castle

Today we went southwest to Neuschwanstein to see one of the world most famous castles. Certainly Germany’s most famous one. I’ve wanted to come here for a very long time, even before I set off on my travels five years ago.

Neuschwanstein. Now there’s a mouthful. Why to Germans have to make it so damn hard? I spent the best part of our two hour train ride too Füssen trying to get the pronunciation just right and failed miserably. I mean, I sort of get it: neuschwanstein. I just can’t say it all in one go. But I digress.

As far as castles go, this one is actually quite new. It was built in the late 19th century by the king Ludwig II of Bavaria. Well not really. It was in fact built by a bunch of slaves whose names sadly never made into history. It is a homage to Wagner, the king’s favourite composer, who ended up never setting foot in the palace.

The matter of fact is that the castle is simply fantastic. It sits high on the top of a mountain with breathtaking views from all of its windows. It is apparently the most photographed building in Germany but it’s the interior, where photography is prohibited, that makes it truly worth the visit. The architecture and decoration of the few rooms that were actually completed before the king died are so fairytale-like and ridiculously over the top that they could only be the work of a narcissistic lunatic. Gold plated walls, meticulously painted ceilings, furniture sculpted from solid wood, columns in the shape of palm trees, and swans, lots of swans. Ludwig was in fact declared insane and died under very suspicious circumstances before most rooms in the palace could be completed.

Great day trip. Could have been much shorter though, had we known thousands of people around Bavaria would have the same idea. We ended up queuing for tickets, and having to wait around for the best part of the day before it was our turn to start the tour.

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