Friday, February 18, 2011

Kickin' it in Neuschwanstein

By: Alice Meyung, 4th dan

One of the places we will be visiting in Germany is the Neuschwanstein Castle.  In 1869, King Ludwig II began construction on the castle in Bavaria near the town of Fussen.  Ludvig II wanted to live in a fantasized version of the “old German knights’ castles” (from a letter to Wagner, 1868).  Ludvig II greatly admired the composer Richard Wagner and used his work as inspiration in the design of the castle.  Neuschwanstein means “New Swan Stone” after “the Swan Knight” from Wagner’s Lohengrin.  Wagner’s opera characters inspire many of the rooms and decor inside the castle.  The combination of designs from the Middle Ages and the musical mythology of Wagner make the castle look like a fantasy fairytale.  In fact, Walt Disney modeled Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the Magic Kingdom after Neuschwanstein. 

Neuschwanstein was built in the 19th century, long after castles were no longer useful as defensive strategy so aesthetic designs could prevail.  Ludvig hired Christian Jank, a theatrical designer, as the architect for the castle.  The romanticized medieval look of the castle combined with technology of the age makes Neuschwanstein unique. The castle had heat, flushing toilets, running water, and hot water in the kitchens and baths.  

Originally the construction of the entire castle was expected to take three years; however, Ludwig was a perfectionist as well as extravagant.  It took fourteen carpenters over four years to finish the woodwork in Ludvig’s bedroom.  When the king died in 1886, seventeen years after construction began, only 14 rooms of the castle were finished and construction still continued.  Ludvig slept in the castle for only eleven nights in his life, and there is no thrown in the thrown room since the castle wasn’t completed until after his death.  Every year over one million tourists visit the castle.  Photographs are not allowed inside the castle and are hard to find.  Going inside and seeing it will be like a fairytale!  I hope I get to do Chung-Mu in one of the many beautiful gardens!


"Neuschwanstein Castle." Neuschwanstein (2010): n. pag. Web. 2 Dec 2010. 

"Neuschwanstein Castle." Wikipedia (2010): n. pag. Web. 30 Nov 2010. 

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