Curious People : King Ludwig II and His Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most popular and beautiful palaces of Germany, situated in southwest Bavaria. It dates back to the 19th century, when it was constructed on a rugged hill near Hohenschwangau and Füssen. The castle was built specifically for one person and yet that one person spent a total of 11 nights in the castle itself.  I think it’s safe to say there are many curious aspects of this castle and it king that many people may not be aware.

The castle was built for King Ludwig II in 1869 as an homage to his muse, the composer Richard Wagner. I believe King Ludwig to have not only beautiful tastes, but also a beautiful and gentle mind.  The theme of the castle was based on the German legends of the Swan Knight. Neuschwanstein literally means “new swan stone” and swans play a big theme throughout motifs and murals within the castle.  This even includes a curious little private grotto, a stalactite cave, that is located between the living room and study. These were in romantic vogue at the time, so naturally King Ludwig had to have one!

The reason the castle looks so impressive, is that it was curiously designed by a theatrical professional, Christian Jank, and not an architectural expert.  And yet, the castle was never fully completed.  It is so magnificent, however, that it was one of the finalists in the selection of the New Seven Wonders of the World.  Had it been voted as such, the castle would have laid in infamy with the world’s greatest structures which include the Pyramids of Giza!

The reason behind the curious construction of this wonderful place?  Well, King Ludwig was a bit…odd really.  But in the most romantic and harmless sense!  He has been quoted as being the best real king of that century.  Though his politics left him a bit wanting, he more than made up for it with his love of the arts.  Problem?  Yes…there were a few.

In reality he was a constitutional monarch, a head of state with rights and duties and little freedom of action. For this reason he built a fantasy world around him in which – curiously far removed from reality – he could feel he was a real king. From 1875 on he lived at night and slept during the day.  He even traveled at night, most of the time in period costumes and with the latest technology for his sleighs and elaborate coaches.  Often he scoured the country in wild nocturnal rides, his curious madness nipping at his heels.

But that is not all!  I found these on another little blog!

  • He often had curious dinner parties with long dead monarchs such as Louis XIV and even had a special, disappearing table constructed so he and his “guests” wouldn’t be disturbed by the servants changing the courses.
  • He was thought to have been gay but quelled urges due to being a devout Catholic
  • He obsessed with legends of the Holy Grail
  • He born the same day and hour as his namesake grandfather, Ludwig I
  • He tried to strangle his brother as a youth
  • He reverted to a backwards schedule of waking up at 5pm and sleeping through the day

He was extravagant with his living expenses and yet he cut himself off from society.  He only communicated to his ministers through letters and estranged himself from his family. He arranged private performances in his castles or in Munich at fabulous cost, and appointed an official poet to his household (I find it curious to think about the role of the poet…is that really all he did all day?). Later his avoidance of society developed into a dread of it, accompanied by a fear of assassination and delusions that he was being followed. This craving for solitude and outright, uncontrollable fear would soon have its consequences.

In 1886, King Ludwig, now known as “the recluse”, allowed his curious fantasy world to consume him.  He allowed for his desires to run rampant instead of anchoring himself down in reality.  Based on popular method, the King was diagnosis incurably mad and after violent resistance from the King he was deposed and interned in Berg Palace.  The next day, the King mysteriously drowned along with the unfortunate psychiatrist who had declared him insane.  Based on medical science of the time, the King’s brain was examined and was shown to have characteristics of an incurably insane mind…but did he do it?  Was it suicide?  Was it murder?  Was it a conspiracy?  We will not know since the only witness curiously died with him.

Yet his fantasy castle still stands high today.  Neuschwanstein it’s one of the most visited palaces in Germany yet photography is forbidden within the castle.  The castle has been used as a design for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and in that way many children can fulfill their own curiously lovely fantasy’s just as King Ludwig.



9 thoughts on “Curious People : King Ludwig II and His Castle

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