Oct 21, 2014


Ok, it's finally time for the next castle!

     We won't go far. Just 2 kilometres from Neuschwanstein, you will find another castle associated with Ludwig II and with a name difficult to pronounce: Hohenschwangau (/Hoenʃvʌngʌʊ /). Hohenschwangau means "High District of the Swan" and it was probably named after the lake nearby (Schwansee) where Ludwig's mother would take him to feed the swans in his childhood years. The swan would later become an important motif in his castles.

     I visited this castle twice too, both times just before heading to Neuschwanstein. I'd guess that's the usual order of seeing these two castles. After all, Hohenschwangau is situated on a lower hill.

     But before talking about my experience, let's just write few words about the history of this castle. The main difference between this one and Neuschwanstein is that the latter was was built by Ludwig II himself, while the former was built by his father, Maximilian II of Bavaria. Or to be more precise, they gave orders to build the castles. The only thing Ludwig II made in this castle were the twinkling lights on the ceiling of his bedroom.

                                                                    A closer look of the castle

     At that time, Bavaria was an independent kingdom. Maximilian was one of those people who was fighting against the German unification and was very proud of his Bavarian heritage which he tried to advocate as much as possible. That is why you can see many Bavarian symbols and scenes from Germanic mythology in this castle.
     He also showed great interest in a wide range of arts, namely literature; he was a great fan of Hans C. Andersen who actually visited him in Hohenschwangau castle.

     And just like his son, Maximilian II went on to build and rebuild few castles in the area, with Hohenschwangau being the most notable of them. The first records actually date from 12th century, but Maximiliam II completed the restoration in 1855, more than 20 years after acquiring the ruins and the area nearby.
     He decided to create a picturesque castle with decorative elements such as towers and turrets, oreils, portals, balconies, pillars...

Young Ludwig II building his first castle :)
 The photo of young Ludwig II was found on this site and it features this very interesting story: 

      "One of my favourite Ludwig stories is from the Christmas of 1852, when the 7 year old who would later become mad King Ludwig II received as a fateful present from his grandfather, mad King Ludwig I. A set of building blocks.
     This fired the childish imagination of young Luddi, and may have unlocked something deep within. “He loves to build,”  wrote the impressed grandfather to his son, the child’s father Otto: “I witnessed him construct buildings that were exquisite, astonishing, and realised with excellent taste.”

“I recognise a real affinity between this future King Ludwig II and myself,”..."

Yep, it runs in the family. Ludwig I was an art lover and he built numerous buildings in neoclassical style, most of them in Munich. Another trivia related to Ludwig I: On the occasion of his marriage on a huge meadow outside of the city walls of Munich on October 17, 1810, the first Oktober was held! Castles + Oktoberfest - Bavarians living today should certainly thank this royal family.

     Hohenschwangau was the official summer and hunting residence of the king and his family and it feels more spartan (but don't expect Middle Ages!) compared to Neuschwanstein and other castles that Ludwig II built himself. 
     After the death of his father, Ludwig II took over his father's room (he lived in an annexe next to the castle before that) and lived together with his mother. From 1869 until his death in 1880, he closely inspected the construction of Neuschwanstein from this castle.

     Unlike Neuschwanstein which was sold to the Bavarian Government, Hohenschwangau is privately owned by the family and I guess that is the reason why more rooms are not accessible to the average visitor.

                                                              Yes, the telescope is still there!

     As said when writing about Neuschwanstein, you can only visit this castle as a part of rushed guided tour. 
     So the first thing that caught my eye was this huge guest book in the Reception Room and yes, I did manage to take a photo of it (hopefully the family won't sue me :D)! Another interesting trivia: the protestant reformer Martin Luther is said to have taken refuge at this castle while hiding from authorities on his way to Wittenberg to nail his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door. Since he was hiding, he naturally didn't sign, so it is always open for speculations I guess...

     On a side note, writing this entry very late after the first one made me realize how much have I already forgotten :( While I hate taking hundreds of photos, it's good to have some to jog your memory, if nothing else. Another important detail I managed to catch on my camera was Wagner's piano. It is placed in the dressing room, but it served as Ludwig's music room too. Wagner most probably played in it just for Ludwig's pleasure.

     What I liked in this castle was the contrast between public and private rooms. The private rooms aka bedrooms are much warmer in its exposition and images than the public ones, especially The Hall of Heroes, which looks like a show-off piece in my opinion. While public rooms are often decorated with war and battle images, the king's bedroom is inspired by Italian Renaissance and depicts naked girls having a good time. The colours are just gorgeous.

     The queen's bedroom is even more elegant, obviously inspired bythe Moorish style. Perhaps my favourite room in this castle. 

     It is obvious that someone lived there once upon a time. I can't say the same for Neuschwanstein- just think of the Throne Hall without a throne!
     In the castle ground there is a souvenir shop which is expectedly overpriced. I bought one horseman only to realize few months later that the same one can be bought in China shop for much less :( Well, I was young and naive, I wouldn't do the same mistake again. Besides, nowadays I rarely buy souvenirs as most of them just collect dust on shelves and I barely look at them. So unless it's something unique and it really grabs me, I don't buy it. My friends are not happy about that, he he... I rather buy books about the places I've been to, it's far more useful and I actually read them.

     Many tips that I have written about Neuschwanstein apply for this castle too. While Hohenschwangau receives a fraction of Neuschwanstein's visitors (300 000 compared to 1.3 million), it can still get very crowded and buying your ticket online in advance is usually a good idea.

Visitor info:

a) Opening hours:

The castle is open every day except on December 24.
From March 28 to October 15: 8:00-17:30
From October 16 to March 27: 9:00-15.30

b) Admission

Visit of the Tower plus a guided visit to the Apartments and the Cellars:

 Adults                                                                                    € 12.00                 

Students, Senior citizens over 65 years of age,
disabled visitors when showing valid identification
€ 11.00
Groups, at least 15 members € 11.00
(This discount only applies if all tickets are bought and
paid at the same time by one person)
• Travel guides and coach drivers free

c) Contact

Official website: https://www.hohenschwangau.de/556.0.html


Ticket-Center Hohenschwangau
Alpseestrasse 12
D-87645 Hohenschwangau 

Telefon: +49 (0) 83 62 - 93 08 30
Telefax: +49(0) 83 62 - 93 08 320 

d) Multimedia: 

1. Ludwig II (1972)


Anonymous said...

I found this post a very interesting one. This kind of reminded me of the recent writeup of the 93-year old Simone Klugman "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down." Thank you for sharing a very detailed description about the history of Hohenschwangau. I am very much fascinated by the stories behind castles and fortresses and will never get tired learning about them - some of them chilling but ultimately attention-grabbing!

Jack said...

i love boldt castle! it is gorgeouss!!! it has a theme of hearts (and harts) everywhere! :) its so tragic though- he made the castle(more like realllllyyyy big mansion) for his love, and then she died. so he had all production stop and never went back. The tools were left there, and the house was never finished. It has a bowling ally (in the temporary home), boat house, a playhouse for the children (where they lived while it was being built) and a pool room, a ball room and a heart shaped pool( just to name a few)! honestly breathtaking! the an who had this built was also the reason why 1000island salad dressing is around :) he had the chef create it for his wife, and the castle is apart of the 1000 islands! :)