Visiting Neuschwanstein, Part 3

As previously noted, we were unable to take any pictures inside the castle so I’ve found a few online to give you an idea of what’s there. The one thing to keep in mind when viewing Neuschwanstein is that this structure was never intended as a fully functioning royal residence. Rather, Ludwig II conceived of Neuschwanstein as his own personal retreat from the world at large (and its attendant responsibilities as King of Bavaria) and it was meant as a solitary place with a minimum of staff. Heavily influenced by Romanticism, the decoration incorporated elements from Germany mythology as embodied in the The Ring of the Nibelung. Ludwig also drew heavily from Christian themes and running through everything was a heavy fantasy element that’s hard to precisely define.

Here are few of the rooms that impressed us the most. First is the Throne Hall:

Above are three views of the Throne Hall looking from where the throne would have been. Ludwig died before the throne could be completed so the order was simply cancelled. And now for some views looking towards the throne platform:

And a close-up off of some of the detail:

 

The Throne Hall was quite an impressive sight, especially since it combined elements of Byzantine and Gothic architecture. Next on our most impressive list was the Singer’s Hall (which was never meant for actual concert performances):

The Singer’s Hall looking in both directions. Here’s some views of Ludwig’s study and bedroom:

And finally, some of the most curious of the rooms- the Grotto and the Wintergarden:

We have to say, that as much as we liked seeing all of this “in the flesh,” it was impossible to get any unobstructed views due to the large crowds of tourists- they’re simply letting too many in. We would have been more than willing to have paid three or four times as much to take a private tour… With the tour over, we exited the castle and took a horse-drawn carriage ride down the mountain. We highly recommend this mode of travel if the lines aren’t too long:

We were definitely worn out from all the walking so we repaired to a local gasthaus for a hearty Bavarian lunch before getting on the train back to Munich. It was an amazing day and I would highly recommend visiting Neuschwanstein to anyone with the caveats that it can be quite crowded and there’s A LOT of walking involved. 🙂

 

Visiting Neuschwanstein, Part 1

Today we hopped on the Deutsche Bahn and journeyed south to Füssen to go visit the legendary castle of Neuschwanstein. Getting to the castle is relatively easy BUT it’s advisable to buy tickets way in advance since it’s regulated by appointment and it gets crowded in the summer and early fall. Worse, you have a specific time window to pick up the tickets prior to your “appointment” time (for further details on visiting Neuschwanstein, go HERE). Nevertheless, the Deutsche Bahn is fast and efficient and after about a two-hour ride in a comfortable train, we arrived at Füssen where we caught the bus heading to the town of Hohenschwangau where the main visitor center/ticket office is located (it’s actually an easier trip than what we’re describing).

Waiting for our train at the Hauptbahnhof, Munich.

After picking up the tickets, we were able to rest a bit easier and so we decided to take in the scenery a bit before heading to our first stop, the Museum of the Bavarian Kings (more properly, Museum der Bayerischen Könige). Like Neuschwanstein, it’s best to buy tickets in advance (we bought it all at the same time online about a month before leaving for Germany) but there’s no fixed admission time and it seems that most of the tourists avoid visiting in favor of the castles (Neuschwanstein or Hohenschwanstein). For us, it was perfect. The museum is right next to this lake, the Alpsee:

Compared to the visitor center, and later the castle, the museum was empty and we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves. As the name suggests, the museum is focused on the Wittlesbach family who were the ruling the monarchs of Bavaria from the Middle Ages. Here’s some of the things that struck us (the lighting was playing havoc with my camera so for some pictures, I had to organize some photos from online):

The interior displays were aesthetically brilliant and it was complete sensory overload. And yes, that’s a LOT of real gold you’re looking at. 🙂

And here’s a portrait of Ludwig III, the last King of Bavaria, reigning from 1913-18:

And now for Ludwig II:

Portrait of Ludwig as Ludwig II as the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of St George, (Gabriel Schachinger, 1887) wearing the ceremonial robe. And here’s the robe today:

The display of the robe is quite cleaver- it’s designed so it can be viewed from both front and back:

Not, it’s not the camera- the robe has faded to a shade of teal. It’s dramatically different than what’s pictured in the portrait above. There’s a lot more in the museum than what we’ve posted and we highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of Bavaria. It captures the history of the Wittlesbach kings very nicely, especially in how they attempted to come to grips with a modernizing world that would eventually render them irrelevant (sad, to say). Between this and the Residenz Museum, one can gain a pretty good overview. Definitely worth a visit. And now, on to the castle!

(To be continued…)

Out And About In Munich, Part 1

First day in Munich…after an incredibly long flight due to delays caused by mechanical issues, we have finally arrived in Munich! After a good night’s rest, we then set out to get acquainted with the City.  The first stop on our list was the Munich Residenz Museum, formerly the main palace of the House of Wittlesbach, the family who ruled Bavaria from 1180 through 1918 (interestingly enough, Ludwig III, the last king of Bavaria never abdicated his throne so technically, Bavaria could have a Wittlesbach as a king again).

The Residenz Museum is a fairly large complex divided into three main areas: the Residenzmuseum, Treasury, and Cuvilliés Theatre. Just to note, much of the entire complex was severely damaged during WWII and what we view today is largely been rebuilt although many of the original fittings survived. Below are some views from our visit, beginning with the Residenz itself. First up is the grottenhof which is essentially a grotto covered with sea shells and decorated with busts of various Roman Emperors and Bavarian nobles:

This area was not in the best condition and signage was minimal so we had to draw our own conclusions, at least until we’d purchased a guidebook. Next is the Antiquarium:

Originally built from 1568-1571 by Duke Albrecht V, this was originally intended as a hall to house his various antiques (mostly Classical Greece and Rome supplemented by a lot of crude knock-offs). However, over time, the hall was expanded by Albrecht’s successors and used for various large scale social events- the hall is HUGE and could easily fit 500 or more. Our pictures don’t do justice to the sheer scale.

The Residenz was expanded over time with various additions added, creating a veritable labyrinth and it’s easy for the visitor to get overwhelmed by the sheer scale. Here’s a few more pictures of later additions:

In terms of architecture and decor, the Residenz reflects a variety of styles, heavily represented by Baroque, Louis XIV, and Neo-Classical styles. The sheer volume of furnishings, china, silver, and various objects d’art were overwhelming and there’s enough there to warrant at least two or three trips. After about two hours, we decided to take a break and go to bunch at this nice cafe that located close by…

(To be continued…)

And A Salute To Ludwig II…

With our upcoming trip to Bavaria, one can not get too far from Ludwig II. A king that was more interested in the arts than in ruling, Ludwig II left his unique stamp on Bavaria, leaving behind some beautiful monuments in the form of his various palaces and castles such as Neuschwanstein Castle. Ludwig II was also instrumental in providing patronage to composer Richard Wagner. In future posts, we’ll have more about the good king. 🙂

Gabriel Schachinger, Portrait du Roi Louis II de Bavière – 1887 König von Bayern Ludwig II