We stayed at the Alpenhotel Schwanstein, about 10 minutes from Hohenschwangau. A really nice little hotel, very friendly staff, and a good restaurant. we arrived early at Hohenschwangau, so there was no queue for tickets, and we bought a double ticket to both Schloss Neuschwanstein and Schloss Schwangau. The tours were very speedy, but informative.
First we went to Schloss Schwangau, a more homely sort of castle, which was the summer home of Ludwig 2nd, we could imagine it being lived in. The rooms were smaller, with a very nice garden and statuary, and the tour was about 30 people. We were given a time for both tours, so were able to walk up to Schwangau through the forest and looking down over the lake.
We walked back down and caught a horse and carriage ride up to Schloss Neuschwanstein, an over-the-top exterior, seemingly the product of an over-imaginative mind! This was the castle that Ludwig had built for himself, an enormous edifice, but only for himself to live in – he wouldn’t even allow his mother to visit! The only guest he wished to have, and for whom he created an elaborate suite of rooms, was the composer Richard Wagner, Sadly, Wagner died before the rooms were finished, so never stayed there. The interior design was influenced by Wagner’s music, such as Lohengrin.
Ludwig went bankrupt before the castle could be finished, was arrested
and imprisoned in Linderhof, and declared insane (by doctors who never met him!) So sadly, he only lived in his fantasy castle for 6 months, and shortly after his imprisonment he walked into the lake at Linderhof and drowned. His personal doctor also drowned in the lake, and it is still a mystery about the circumstances of both deaths. Within a few weeks of his death Neuschwanstein was opened to the public, all monies going to the State of Bavaria.
The locals declare that Ludwig was NOT insane, and I really believe he was a man ahead of his time. He included a central heating system for the schloss, with all the heating ovens being fed via an internal set of corridors, so nobody would be disturbed by servants coming in to stoke the fires; he invented an armchair which was to all intents and purposes the forerunner of the lazyboy! He really wanted to build a fairytale castle .. and he succeeded .The kitchens were enormous (and just for one man), with a special room just for washing the dishes, with a huge water tank for heating the water.
We finished the day with a trip up the Bergbahn in a cabine. Minestrone soup in the cafe at the top was very welcome!