King Ludwig II Mystery: Murder or Suicide
King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Germany, had spent large sums of money to build the elaborate Neuschwanstein Castle for his residence. In effect, spending vast amounts of currency maddened his enemies.
Consequently, in 1886, four government psychiatrists certified King Ludwig II insane. Additionally, they transferred him away from Neuschwanstein Castle to Berg Castle.
A few days later, the king and one of those psychiatrists were found dead near Berg Castle in Lake Starnberg. To this day, it’s questionable whether it was murder, suicide, or both.
King Ludwig II led an exceptional life. He grew up in Hohenschwangau castle, and when he turned eighteen, his father died, and Ludwig stepped into the role of king.
King Ludwig II “The Mad King”
Two years later, King Ludwig allied with Austria during the Austro-Prussian War. When Prussia had won the war, the king lost his power. Because of this setback, Ludwig had become a recluse. In addition, he built extravagant castles and created a fantasy world where he could reign like a medieval king. Hence, he was called “The Mad King.”
Obsession with the Composer Richard Wagner
In 1868, the king had broken ground for his most famous castle, Neuschwanstein, and within four years he had access to parts of it. Neuschwanstein represented King Ludwig’s fixation on Richard Wagner.
The king attended “private performances” of Wagner’s operas where he was the sole member of the audience. Furthermore, he had built Neuschwanstein to honor the composer.
He accomplished this by hiring a theatrical scene painter to design the castle with scenes from Wagner’s operas. Ironically, the composer died before he saw it.
View of Queen Mary’s Bridge or Marienbrucke Bridge
The Interior of Neuschwanstein Castle
While building Neuschwanstein, Ludwig used technology unheard of in the 19th century. His builders installed flushing toilets and central heat. Plus they furnished his kitchen with two ovens, a stove, spit, sideboard, and hot and cold running water.
Ludwig’s extravagances incurred massive debt, and his ministers deposed him by reason of insanity. However, though his behavior was exceptional, evidence had accumulated indicating that he may have been set up.
Suspiciously, within weeks of his death, Ludwig’s descendants opened the castle for tourism. Since then, it has become one of the most photographed castles in the world and attracts as many as 6,000 visitors a day.
Neuschwanstein Castle and Walt Disney
Sources say that after Walt Disney toured Germany and visited Neuschwanstein Castle, he created Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and Disney’s Magic Kingdom. In essence, if you look closely at the two Disney castles, you can detect Neuschwanstein characteristics.
Best Time to Visit Neuschwanstein
We visited Neuschwanstein near the end of September and purchased our tickets at 11:30 a.m. for a 1:00 p.m. tour. We rode the bus up and ate lunch at the castle restaurant. The crowds were not overwhelming, and the temperatures ranged in the high sixties to seventies with a slight breeze that cooled our skin.
The foliage colored the Bavarian hills and valleys with splashes of orange, gold, and green. We felt like we had arrived at the perfect time.
Tickets can be reserved in advance or purchased at Hohenschwangau ticket office on the day that you visit. Management suggests collecting your tickets an hour before your tour. On busy summer days or holidays, tickets can sell out early.
You can hike, take a carriage, or a bus up to the castle. Tickets include a guided tour, but inside photos are prohibited. Once inside the castle be prepared to walk up 165 steps and down 180.
Neuschwanstein Ticket Cost
Adults: 13 euros
Children under 18 accompanied by an adult: Free
Groups and senior citizens: 12 euros.
As you tour Neuschwanstein Castle and listen to stories about King Ludwig II of Bavaria, you can decide whether it was murder or suicide. What do you think?