Monday, November 18, 2013

Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castles, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle was our destination on Wednesday, October 23, near Fussen of Bavaria, Germany.  It was a long wet drive from Lauterbrunnen, although the scenery along the way was very nice.  I never tired of gazing at the green rolling hills spilling into hundreds of small lakes and ponds, accented with trees and bushes dressed in autumn hues of yellow, orange and red.  We frequently saw waterfalls formed from melting alpine glaciers, and could hear the melodious sounds of cow bells ringing in the distance.  Our GPS took us along narrow winding country roads, which was probably the most scenic way to travel the "Romantic Road" in Germany, but made the drive a little challenging for our driver - Bob.  After five hours of driving, we were ready for a break and, fortunately, had reached our destination.  The rain held off just long enough for us to each lunch and walk around the grounds of Hohenschwangau , "high swan palace", castle.  We had scheduled a tour of the neighboring Neuschwanstein, "new swan stone", castle for 3:00, but they put us in the last tour of the day closer to 4:00.  And by then, it was pouring rain and our somewhat stiff guide was hurried in her presentation.

Hohenschwangau was built by the Bavarian King Maximillian II, around 1837.  (His son, Ludwig II, built the neighboring Newschwanstein castle, which he moved into in 1884.)  We did not tour the inside of this castle, but enjoyed walking around the perimeter of the impressive building.  It's setting was really quite impressive with the nearby lakes and surrounding mountains.

Neuschwanstein is a 19th century Romanesque Revival style castle.  King Ludwig II, lived in this home for only 172 days before he died mysteriously.  Apparently, he went for a walk and never returned.  The inside of the castle was never completely finished, but the rooms that were are truly magnificent.  We were disappointed that we were not allowed to take photographs, and when I tried to take a couple, I was quite chastened by our tour guide.  (Photos used to be allowed are are available online by clicking on this link.)  The intricate painting of walls and ceilings is beyond imagination with combinations of colors that are beautifully inspiring.  I fell in love with a cobalt blue, gold and rich dark brown textile that was used in the King's bedroom that I would love to use in a home someday!  Behind the castle is Marienbrucke - or Marie's bridge.  The rain did not stop us from making the short trek to the bridge.  From this location you can get a spectacular view of this gorgeous monument which was the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle.


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