The castle is located near the German town of Fussen. It was built by the “Mad” King Ludwig II. More on him later. Originally the castle was called New Hohenschwangau castle, but it was too hard for the tourists to spell and say. The name Neuschwanstein translates to swan stone castle and was named after one of Wagner’s opera characters, the swan night. They waited until Ludwig died to change the name, he would have been pissed.
The architect told Ludwig it would take only three years to build; this was probably the biggest whopper told in all of Germany, pfft, three years, please bitch. Luds was so wrapped up in his medieval fantasy world that he probably believed the dude or that he just wanted to justify building the thing in the first place. He lived in the gateway building until the castle was livable, 12 years later…12 YEARS LATER! What happened to three? Perhaps it was said three years for the foundation only, not the actual building. Luds did not read the contract very close. It still was not done when he died. Can you imagine living with all that construction in your backyard? No wonder he went a little cuckoo. The castle was to be his private hideaway; the irony is more than a million people visit each year… Oy vey, so much for that fantasy.
The castle was built in the honor of composer Robert Wagner. Luds loved his music and operas so much he became a patron and supported the dude. Ok, let’s just get it out there; he had a major crush on the guy. That is fine if that is who you are; no one cares, really but back in the day it was a bit of a scandal. Wagner took major advantage of the King’s love for him to further his own career. I think he was a jerk myself for leading Luds on. Luds had the interior of the castle decorated in themes based on Wagner’s operas. Well, that is an interesting design concept; I prefer neutrals and classicalness, so you do not have a major issue reselling the place because you got too trendy or weird: his castle, his decorating ideas, not mine. While the castle looks medieval it was very modern inside for the time. It had flush toilets, electricity and hot water. Wowzah.
The castle was turned over to the Bavarian government after Bavaria became a Republic in 1918. They make a fortune off tourism to the castle. Initially, they let tourists wander willy nilly about the castle, but they would not stay off the furniture and caused way too much wear, so they put a stop to that situation. Can you imagine if we were allowed to do this today? One million visitors leaping into Luds bed to see what it was like to sleep like a king or going through his fridge to look for some cheese or a good German beer. Not a good idea.
While other cities in central Europe were damaged, the secluded location of the palace helped it survive two world wars. The location of the castle is high up on a hill in the countryside. It is a lovely place to live but not really practical for warfighting. No one in their right mind wants to travel up and down that hill on foot. The castle was actually used as a depot for the Nazi spoils of war. There was a lot of art stored there. The SS almost blew up the castle to prevent it all from landing into the enemy’s hands. What a bunch of pricks. I don’t want anyone else to see this painting or sculpture so I will just blow it up; who cares if it was by a long-deceased master, its mine, all mine, ugh. The frenzy of the last days of the war caused the SS in charge of the castle to think of other important things, like saving their asses, and they forgot to blow up the art.