This is the quintessential fairy tale castle that comes to every child’s imagination. Located in southern Germany near the town of Füssen, the castle was built in 1892 by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The castle was also the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle (which explains why all kids associate fairy tale castles with this), and Michael Jackson offered to buy it so that he could dismantle and rebuild the castle in his Neverland ranch. I finally got a chance to visit this castle in 1996 and relive the childhood fantasy within me when I was in Regensburg, Germany for a training visit. My German colleague drove and it took us 3-4 hrs to drive from Regensburg to Füssen.
The castle is built on top of a small hill and stands isolated from the rest of the mountains. We had to park our car in the public car park at the bottom of the hill and walk up the hill via the small road. There are horse drawn carriages that you can pay to ride for the uphill trip.
We were allowed to take photos outside the castle and the courtyards, but the keep interior is off limits to photo taking. All visitors have to follow a guided tour of the keep, and we chose the English tour. The guide was knowledgeable from years of answering all sorts of questions from tourists regarding the castle construction and tales about ‘mad’ King Ludwig II, to his mysterious death.
After the guided tour was over, we found ourselves back in the courtyard. The exit goes through the mountains behind the castle and you can get a good panorama of Neuschwanstein.
Despite the fairy tale romance of the castle, it hides a dark past. King Ludwig II was considered eccentric because of his obsession with building the castle. He spent all of his personal fortune to finance the construction of the castle and borrowed a lot of money to continue the construction. Finally, the state decided to dispose him as King and he was kicked out of the castle that he built. He and his personal guard were both found drowned in the nearby lake the next day and until today no one knows whether it was an accident, suicide or murder.
Besides driving, you can take the train to Füssen, then the bus RVA/OVG 73 in the direction to Steingaden / Garmisch-Partenkirchen or the bus RVA/OVG 78 in the direction to Schwangau until you reach the stop Hohenschwangau / Alpseestraße.
More information can be found here: http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/palace/