Hohenschwangau Castle - King Ludwig's Favorite Boyhood Home
While visiting Neuschwanstein, we also paid a visit to
Ludwigs boyhood home, Hohenschwangau Castle, which sits solidly on lower ground, between the lake and Neuschwansein. Unfortunately, it is overlooked by many who come to see the more famous Neuschwanstein Castle, just up the hill.
But, don't pass it by! You will be pleasantly surprised. Its historic, more lived in and gives a better insight to Ludwigs early life.
Schloss Hohenschwangau was Mad King Ludwig's favorite boyhood residence. His family stayed there many summers where he spent hours exploring, hiking through the forests and developing his overactive imagination and love of fantasy.
Hohenschwangau Castle was originally built in the 12th century by the Knights of Schwangau. By 1523 the castle was declared inadequate for defense purposes. Through the centuries, it changed ownership several times until it was destroyed by Napoleon Bonaparte and fell in to decay and disrepair.
Crown Prince Maximilian of Bavaria loved its charm and purchased it. He rebuilt and renovated the castle between 1832 and 1836, employing the theater architect Dominik Quaglio to recreate a medieval dream castle.
However, unlike Ludwigs more famous castle up the hill, the somewhat garishly yellow Hohenschwangau castle has the feeling of a noble home, where comfort is just as important as outward splendor. It soon became the favorite summer residence of King Maximilian II.
In addition to its 700-year history, Hohenschwangau castle has a nice collection of period furniture, fantasy murals, armaments, a large assortment of oil paintings, woodcarvings, icons, tapestries and curios from many centuries.
It was here that the young Ludwig met the composer Richard Wagner. Their friendship shaped and deepened the future kings interest in theater, music and German mythology.
Fourteen rooms are on the tour of the castle and tributes to the Wittelsbach dyanasty are everywhere . Statues of Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian and Elector Maximilian I flank the entrance. Frescoed scenes of kings, knights, medieval heroes and fairy tales are on walls throughout.
The composer Richard Wagner often stayed at Hohenschwangau and his opera Lohengrin inspired the decoration of the Hall of the Knights of the Swan. The chairs and the huge chandelier have swan motifs and the centerpiece of the room is another swan, a wedding present to the king and queen from the citizens of Munich.
Hohenschwangau is full of fanciful items. I was impressed with the Queens Turkish style bedroom, which was a result of Maximilians visit to Turkey in 1833. It is furnished with settees given by Sultan Muhammad II.
Another curiosity is the bedroom of Prince Ludwig II. The ceiling is decorated to reproduce the night sky with stars that dramatically light up at night.
Here are some Tips For Your Visit to Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castles:
If you are traveling independently, get there as early as possible. The tour buses typically arrive in the afternoon and it can get very crowded.
The path to the castle starts in the village of Hohenschwangau. This is where you should park and buy your admission ticket before you set off for the castles.
Also if you have the chance to visit the Alpsee (lake), take the paddle boats out and you can get pictures from another perspective of both castles.