We headed north-west from Innsbrook, back over the border into Germany. It appears that Austria is almost all hills and mountains. The moment the Alpine mountains and foothills turn to plains for good farmland, it becomes German Bavaria.
Ludwig II wasn’t keen on spending his time ‘kinging’ in the Bavarian capital of Munich. He much preferred spending time in the hills on its southern borders. His family built the Hohenschwangau castle when he was a child. Ludwig loved the family retreat, but wanted something more fantastic on the mountains that towered over it.
In 1868, Ludwig started on Neuschwanstein Castle. He wanted his own medieval style castle. However, Ludwig’s interpretation of what this should look like was was somewhat overly romantic and over stylised with a mix of romanesque, gothic and Byzantine parts all jumbled up. The ruins of an actual medieval keep on a hilltop were blown up and new foundations were laid.
At the time, Ludwig’s castle was pronounced ‘kitch’ and an unrealistic representation of what a medieval castle should look like. He continued on, unabated for nearly two decades, pouring a vast personal fortune into the project. Unfortunately Ludwig died in 1886, having only lived in the castle for about half a year, and long before the project was entirely complete. The castle was turned over to the state and opened to the public a few years later. Although there are several halls and towers missing from the final drawings, it is still very impressive and it became the building that started the romanticism style movement. It is also the main inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella Castle.
As we approached the carpark we realised what a tourist trap we had stumbled into. There were coaches, cars and people everywhere! it was so busy people were walking all over the road. We carefully drove through the crowds avoiding causing an international incident and found an extortionately priced small and muddy parking spot. We looked up at the tiny, tiny castle…nope it was just very far away. We gave in and bought and queued for the bus up the hill. We then queued to go on the bridge and see the admittedly stunning view of the castle.
We then walked to the castle find discover it was a 3 hour wait for the guided tour. A quick look on TripAdvisor confirmed our suspicion that the tour was not worth the wait so we decided to walk back down to the carpark. It was a pleasant walk although I’m glad we didn’t walk up as well it was rather warm. The poor horses pulling tourists up in carriages looked like they were putting quite a bit of effort in. A quick peruse of the many gift shops before heading off in the van to a campsite by a nearby lake fow the night.
As we were now in Braveria, it would be rude not to visit its capital…