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The Amazing Castle Of Neuschwanstein

By Jessie Ferenz

If as a child you saw Sleeping Beauty's castle at the start of a Disney movie and thought that one day you would like to be in a castle just like that one, you'll be happy to know that it doesn't have to remain only a dream. You can visit the castle that Disney based their design on. Just like in the Disney logo, Neuschwanstein Castle is on a hill overlooking a village.

The castle is in Schwangau, a municipality near Germany's border with Austria. There are several villages here and in the Middle Ages, three castles held fort over the area. King Maximilian II of Bavaria bought the ruins of one of these castles, Schwanstein, in 1832. He then built Hohenschwangau Castle on the site to replace Schwanstein Castle.

In 1864, Maximilian II died and his eighteen-year-old son ascended to the throne, becoming King Ludwig II. Ludwig II was very private and shy and wanted a place that could serve as a retreat. He therefore decided to build a new castle on the ruins of the other two medieval castles in Schwangau, Vorderhohenschwangau and Hinterhohenschwangau.

The architectural style is known as Romanesque Revival. The draft design was drawn by a stage designer from Munich, Christian Jank. Ludwig II was a great fan of Richard Wagner's operas and wanted his palace to reflect his idea of what a medieval castle like those that formed the settings of many of Wagner's works would be like. The architect who made this a reality was Eduard Riedel, but the king remained deeply involved in the design at every stage.

In 1868 workers started preparing the building site. In 1869 the foundation stone was laid and construction started. The builders used brick to construct the walls and then covered these in white limestone. They also used sandstone and marble in the finishes. In 1884, even before construction was completed, the king moved in. He stayed there until his death in 1886.

Six weeks after the king's death, the castle was opened to public visitors who paid an entrance fee. This helped recover the building costs. Since then it has become a popular tourist attraction and it now receives 1.3 million visitors annually.

When you visit the palace, you will need to take a guided tour to see the beautiful interior. In this way you can find out about the background of not only the castle itself and Ludwig II, but also about the Wagner operas that inspired the paintings throughout the building. These operas were based on German sagas from medieval times. In the bedroom you will see scenes from 'Tristan and Isolde', while in the study there are scenes from 'Tannhauser'. The sagas of Parzifal and his son Lohengrin are represented in the Singer's Hall and the Salon, while the Lower Hall shows the saga of Sigurd and the Upper Hall shows the Gudrun saga.

To get to Neuschwanstein Castle, you need to travel to Fussen and from there to the village of Hohenschwangau. You can do this by car or by public transport. You need to buy your admission tickets to the castle in the village and then the ultimate fairy-tale castle is only a short walk, carriage ride or bus trip away.

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Ditulis oleh: Faisal Reza Siregar - Wednesday, October 31, 2012

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