A trip to Füssen to see Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, arguably Germany’s most famous castle, was never really on my must-see list. But since this year everything is different, I thought it would be the perfect time to visit. No battling tourists to get the good view or standing in a long line for tickets. Due to covid the number of visitors is restricted (only 10% of the usual number!) and one can only visit the castles on a tour. My sister and I decided to book the first tours of the day.
There had been a castle where Hohenschwangau is today since the late 1300’s, but the present-day castle wasn’t built until 1837, on the ruins of the original castle. The style is neo-gothic and many paintings depicting medieval German sagas grace the interior walls of the castle.
High above Hohenschwangau is Neuschwanstein, built by Ludwig II of Bavaria. Ludwig was born in Hohenschwangau and later built, among other castles, Neuschwanstein.
The interior of the castle was never completed and Ludwig only lived there for 172 days, as he was declared insane and shortly thereafter found dead. The mystery surrounding his death is still speculated on to this day. The interior is a wild mix of styles. There is a Byzantine-Arab throne room, without a throne, most walls depict scenes from Richard Wagner’s operas and it has an overall medieval wanna-be feeling. There was central heating, telephones and a dumbwaiter to bring food up from the kitchen. The King’s bedroom is a neo-gothical wonder with a lavishly carved bedstand and throne. He even had running water in his room, the spout has the shape of a swan’s head and neck. In fact swans can be found everywhere. Most impressive were the porcelain swan vases, manufactured in Nymphenburg. A lid could be removed on the back and huge bouquets would be placed in the swan’s back. The impressive thing is the size. These vases are life-sized swans!
From Neuschwanstein, it is possible to walk back down through the Pöllachschlucht, a pretty gorge, especially during fall foliage.