Hi everyone! I am back! Don’t worry, I haven’t been hibernating due to the London winter. What I have been doing is visiting the castle most famous for inspiring Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disney land!
The real life Sleeping Beauty Castle is called Neuschwanstein Castle and was owned by the “fairy tale” King Ludwig II. If you feel like visiting the birth place of a real life fairy tale, drive 1.5 hours from Munich and you will see this magnificent Castle.
King Ludwig II was a dreamer and just like Disney himself, he wanted to create a magical kingdom of his own. He was a loner and some say that he built parts of these Castles as a way to escape the outside world. The King spent just over 20 years building the Neuschwanstein Castle and by the time of his mysterious death in 1886, the Castle was only one-third complete.
A Man of Magical Mystery
When we arrived at King Ludwig’s fairy tale castle, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. The Castle overlooks quite a picturesque village with such ornate architecture that you feel almost compelled to jump onto a horse-drawn-carriage to take you to the ball (before it turns into a pumpkin at the strike of midnight).
We took a mini bus instead and found the bridge that would give us the best view of the Castle. Perched high upon a cliff side and covered with snow was the most beautiful Castle I have ever laid eyes on. The snow was lightly falling around us and as we looked down, we could see the forest and river below us. This is what fairy tales are made of!
The Neuschwanstein Castle was even more fascinating inside as it was outside. Our guide took us through halls that were far advanced for its time, almost neo-romantic in design and absolutely magical in every way. Then we were taken through rooms that were gilded with gold and gave you a glimpse of the King’s personality. The King’s room had carvings so delicate and ornate that parts of his room exuded thoughts of an enchanted forest. Large paintings of the Tristan and Isolde (the tragic story of two lovers who could never be together) evidenced King Ludwig’s love for love itself. This could explain the rumours about the King’s unrequited love for Empress Elizabeth Sisi (Queen of Austria), who was married to King Franz Joseph I. In fact, rumour has it that this is why he broke off his engagement to Princess Sophie of Bavaria, who was also Elizabeth’s sister. The King never married and nearing the end of his reign, was known as the mad King.
I truly believe that he was mad but not in a bad way – I think he was a genius! Once we walked through to his music room there were frescos that reminded me of my favourite fairy tales and Disney movies. One of my favourite frescos was the painting of an Angel whose leg gradually turned 3D as it jutted out of the corner, almost as if breaking through the 2D realm and into the 3D realm. There was a music room that resembled a small grotto and rooms with unicorns and dancing monkeys jutting out of the corners. The King had imagination that’s for sure!
Was King Ludwig II pure mad or pure genius? Tell me why below!
Other interesting reads:
- Disney Castle in Paris (blog post)
- Neuschwanstein Castle (blog post)
- If you want to read more about Vienna, the home of Empress Elisabeth, click my blog post here