King Ludwig II Mystery: Murder or Suicide
In 1886, King Ludwig II of Bavaria was deposed when four government psychiatrists certified him insane and transferred him to Berg Castle. He and one of those psychiatrists were found dead near the castle in Lake Starnberg. To this day, it’s questionable whether it was murder, suicide, or both.
King Ludwig II grew up in Hohenschwangau castle, and when he was eighteen, his father died, and he was crowned king.
King Ludwig II “The Mad King”
Two years later, King Ludwig allied with Austria during the Austro-Prussian War, and Prussia’s victory eliminated the king’s sovereignty. Because of this setback, Ludwig became a recluse and built extravagant castles that created a fantasy world where he could reign like a medieval 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 the castle. Ludwig was fixated on Richard Wagner, and Neuschwanstein became the embodiment of this obsession.
Not only had Ludwig attended “private performances” of Wagner’s operas where he was the sole member of the audience, but he had also built Neuschwanstein to honor the composer by hiring a theatrical scene painter to design the castle with scenes from his operas. Ironically, Wagner 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 and 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, there is evidence that he may have been set up.
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
Walt Disney was inspired to create Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and Disney’s Magic Kingdom after he had toured Germany and Neuschwanstein.
We visited 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.