Neuschwanstein, New Swan Castle, looks like a medieval castle
built from the fantasy of an eight-year-old. The first part is not
true as the castle was built between 1869 and 1886 but it was born
from the head of a child. It was built by and for Ludwig II, King of
Bavaria. Ludwig was known, probably not affectionately, as Mad King
When Ludwig was a boy, he lived down the hill in
Hohenschwangau, presumably with his parents. He would gaze out
the window toward the site where he wanted to build the 19th
century version of Neverland and when he grew up, in years if not in
maturity, he had an artist draw what was in his head. Then he hired
an architect to make this a reality.
Ludwig became king in 1863 at the age of 18. He
wasnít really too interested in the king business and when it came
to politics, he consistently deferred either to the King of Austria
or (and Iím not making this up, Philadelphians) the King of Prussia.
Mostly he went hunting and dreamed about his castle on the hill.
Construction started on the castle in 1869 and after 17 years,
enough work was done on it that Ludwig could finally move in. He
lived there less than six months when he was declared mentally unfit
to be King of Bavaria and was removed from Neuschwanstein. Two days
later, both he and the psychiatrist who declared him mentally unfit
were found swimming with the fishes in a nearby lake and itís never
been determined if was murder, suicide, or both, or on whose part.
Construction on the castle stopped immediately
and as big as it is, after 17 years of construction, only 14 rooms
are complete. Within six weeks of his death, people like me were
lining up to pay to enter and see this place. The tour through it
takes only 30 minutes and they throw out a lot of facts. One that
really stood out was about the bedroom. Above the bed are carvings
of different European castles and lots of other things. The carvings
are all very detailed and intricate and itís quite obvious that it
took much time and skill to do this work. How much time and skill?
The tour guide said that it took 61 people a year and a half. The
website said it took 14 people four and a half years. Either way,
thatís an awful lot of man-years of work for a bedroom. This guy
must have thought he was Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise, or that
gargoyle-faced, ugly British babe, Victoria Beckham!
See all my pictures of Neuschwanstein.