Every kid and parent recognizes the Disney Castle.

A couple weeks ago we visited the actual castle it was patterned after – King Ludwig II of Bavaria’s (1845-1886) Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria (Germany). This castle appears in many movies including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Great Escape. It was a finalist in a 2007 New Seven Wonders of the World contest. (Sorry this post is out of chronological sequence in my reporting here, I was just thinking about it again this morning. Surely you realize we can only cover the highlights in the blogs.) Here’s a few shots from aerial angles. The photos here are from Kaitlyn’s camera. (The kings bedroom photo, below, I took with her camera off a page in a booklet on the castle that I bought – no photos allowed inside castle)

Castle 1

No need for one to hit the treadmill after a visit here. We got our workout for the day getting to it, another whole workout getting up the stairs inside  to it’s various levels, and we worked a whole new set of muscles walking back down through the woods to the parking areas. The views of the Bavarian Alps are stunning.  And this castle, built in the 1860’s even had running water into his bedroom and kitchen from the natural springs in the hillside! Here’s Kristen’s prize photo from one of the kings patios.

Castle 2

King Ludwig II was good looking, but a nut. Some say literally he struggled with insanity though that is disputed even today. A commission even determined fits of insanity rendered him unable to govern. He was lonely, unfulfilled. He planned to marry his cousin but for unknown reasons called it off so late the gold wedding carriage had already been completed. I had the thought that he was gay. Kristen gave me a stern glance and a shh! for thinking that outloud within earshot of the others on the tour, but hey, he was obsessed with theatre AND poetry AND had significant childhood/father issues AND had swans adorning literally every room, wall, vase and door handle – you do the math!  Kristen didn’t think it was funny either. I repented. Some suggest he called off the wedding because he actually liked another woman who more closely fit a favorite theatre romance fantasy he was trying to play out in real life. He never married.

The book, The Swan King: Ludwig II of Bavaria says on the back cover (viewable through that link on amazon.com)… “In this penetrating biography Christopher McIntosh seeks to unravel these layers of mystery and reveal the man at the core of the legend, shedding new life on the more ambigious aspects of Ludwig II’s life – his latent homosexuality, supposed madness and the enduring mystery of his death.” Apparently I was right. (FYI – The swan was a regional symbol of the Bavarian kingdom.)

I’ll spare you the room by room tour which honestly I think you’d find interesting, the throne room is just what you’d think it’d be – I coveted his reading chair such that Kristen gave me another firm shh! because as a hearing-impaired person, my whisper voice is apparently still loud enough to disrupt the tour guide’s presentation.

I found his bedroom most memorable, especially his bed.  He was six foot four so he had a special bed made.  It took four full-time woodworkers FOUR YEARS to carve the more than 100 Gothic Church spires that make up his bed’s canopy. 

Kings bed 1

Each spire is an exact replica of spires he admired that donned cathedrals all over Europe. Maybe you are aware that in Christian architecture, the church spire was as an artistic prayer, reaching from earth to heaven hoping to draw divine attention. Had to wonder what was in this guys lonely heart every night as he tossed in bed that he’d go to this extreme to ensure that God wouldn’t overlook him. I was thinking about guys, leadership, and this guys 100+ spire bed canopy… Too bad King Ludwig didn’t go that that extent to develop his character, we know God takes note of a leaders character.

King Ludwig II only lived less than 200 days in this majestic castle that he had made for himself- it was actually unfinished (2rd floor left unfinished, floors 1, 3, 4 were completed) at his death and that second floor is still unfinished today. (You prophetic people help me out – what’s significant about an unfinished second floor – seems significant to me.)

Ludwig II and his shrink drowned mysteriously while out rowing in a rowboat on a lake. The death of his psychologist (Dr. von Gudden) and the King by drowning is still considered a mystery – some think it was a murder/suicide. Only God knows. I wonder if Disney knows any of this history, have to imagine they do.

Bavarian tradition called for the heart of the king to be placed in a silver urn and sent to the Gnadenkapelle (Chapel of the Mercy) in Altötting, where it was placed beside the heart of his father and grandfather.