Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Hohenschwangau & Neuschwanstein Castles (7/2/2019)

Tuesday, July 2, 2019
We were all prepared for today, having scouted out the area the night before, and having requested reservations for castle tours back in December 2018!
Fortunately the proprietor of the Hotel Schwansee had breakfast ready
before the scheduled 7:30, so we had time to eat
We parked in the closest parking lot for €6 and walked to the ticket building well before the assigned 8:15 ticket pick-up time. With reservations we walked right up to the ticket window, while a long line formed for non-reservations, with a sign indicating the first available tour was 17:00!
Schloss/Castle Hohenschwangau towers over the parking lot,
as seen yesterday evening, 7/1/2019
This morning's view with the sun shining
We had to climb up to the castle on our own (well, we could have paid for a horse-drawn carriage ride!).
Passed the calm Alpensee/Alp Lake
Walked on part of the Via Claudia Augusta, the
ancient Roman road between the Po River and Augsburg
View of the countryside on the other side of Hohenschwangau
An outer gate to Hohenschwangau
There has been a castle here since the 12C, and until the 16C was owned by the Knights of Schwangau. It was left in ruins after several wars. Crown Prince Maximilian (later King Maximilian II of Bavaria) purchased the ruins and had it rebuilt (1832-1839) according to original plans for a medieval castle. It was used as a summer and hunting residence by the Bavarian royal family, the Wittelsbachs, including the son of Maximilian II, who was Ludwig II.
The upper courtyard with the final and a shrine
We had time before our 9:10 tour in English to see the castle gardens.
Part of the gardens at Hohenschwangau, with a swan fountain
Lion Fountain that is supposed to have been inspired by one at
the Palace of Lions at Alhambra in Spain
The Alhambra fountain has more spitting lions
Another fountain with swans (KSS)
View from Hohenschwangau of the parking lot side
The main castle has blue and white striped awnings!
No photos allowed in Hohenschwangau. Domenico Quaglio (whose grave we saw in Füssen) was the initial architect for Hohenschwangau and was responsible for the interior walls that were painted with themes from German medieval legends and the history of Schwangau. What is for us the third floor of the castle held the king's rooms, and in one was a telescope where Ludwig II could watch the progress of the construction of Neuschwanstein Castle. Ludwig II's bedroom had walls covered with nude nymphs, and his ceiling was painted a dark blue, with holes punched through. Servants would light lanterns in the attic above, so that Ludwig could imagine a sky full of stars above him in bed.
The second floor had the queen's rooms, including a bedroom with a Turkish flair. Nearly everything in the castle was original to the castle, although many items were gifts to Prince Regent Luitpold who lived in the castle until he died in 1912. He also had electricity and an elevator installed. It was all pretty impressive.
After the tour we hiked back down to the parking lot and town for a quick bite, before purchasing tickets for the shuttle bus to Neuschwanstein Castle.
Schloss/Castle Neuschwanstein as seen from Schwangau
yesterday evening, 7/1/2019
The bus gets you to within 20 minutes of Neuschwanstein. We had time to walk to Marienbrücke/Queen Mary's Bridge, named for Ludwig II's mother.
Smoking bridge attendants limit the number of people on the bridge
The bridge traverses Pöllatschlucht/the Pöllat River gorge
More famously, the bridge has a fantastic view
of Ludwig II's Neuschwanstein Castle
Schloss/Castle Neuschwanstein (1868-1886, using royal set designer
Christian Jank rather than an architect) was built to look like a medieval castle,
but used building technology of the time: iron-and-brick with sandstone veneer
View from Neuschwanstein onto Hohenschwangau Castle
Yep, scaffolding at the entrance gate
View back on Queen Mary's Bridge
Turrets and towers
No photos allowed in Neuschwanstein. The castle was built on the ruins of Schlösser Vorder- and Hinterhohenschwangau/Castles of Forward and Rear Hohenschwangau, and initially called the Neues/New Hohenschwangau. It was never meant to be a royal castle, but instead a retreat for Ludwig II who like being alone. In 1884, Ludwig II moved in, although the castle was far from completed. It is said he lived there only a total of 170 days, before being declared unfit to rule in 1886 and taken to Starnberg. Two days later he was found drowned in the Starnbergersee/Lake Starnberg, under mysterious circumstances.
Neuschwanstein was yet another notch more impressive than Hohenschwangau. At least the finished parts! The interior wall paintings were based on German and Norse legends, many that inspired Richard Wagner operas. The throne room was patterned on Byzantine churches, and illustrated Ludwig's belief that he was a king by God's grace, but also was a mediator between God and the whole world. There was a bronze chandelier and a floor mosaic depicting plants and animals. 
The dining room table could be set up on the floor below, then raised up into the room at meal time. There was also an electric bell system to summon a servant. Ludwig II's bedroom had a carved canopy bed with a forest of spires, replicas of spires of cathedrals throughout Germany. Here the wall painting depicts Tristan and Isolde. There was also running water piped in from the Alps. One room was made into an artificial grotto. The top floor had a huge hall decorated with paintings of the legend of Parsifal, with whom Ludwig II identified.
We were allowed to photograph the kitchen in the basement
Neuschwanstein was the headquarters for the Nazi operation that essentially looted art and treasures from occupied countries, and many works were hidden in this castle.
We had to wait for a shuttle bus back down to the parking lot. If we had more time, we would have walked down, but we still had places to see!
Neuschwanstein Castle from the road leaving Hohenschwangau, 7/1/2019
We stopped at Kolomonskirche/St Coloman's Church (1673-1682),
which stands in isolation in a large meadow, with
Neuschwanstein in view in the distance
Okay, now we are backtracking, on a part of the Alpenstrasse/Alpine Road that overlaps with the Romantische Strasse/Romantic Road, from Füssen/Schwangau to Steingaden.
Garden of a Prämonstratenserkloster/Premonstratensian
(White Canons) monastery in Steingaden
Prayer Labyrinth
Instead of garden gnomes, they had garden monks! (KSS)
Sitting monk (KSS)
Monk with carrot (KSS)
Gardening monk
Wheelbarrow monk
Umbrella monk
A Steingaden storefront showed the rafting history of the area (KSS)
Steingaden Maypole; still the blue and white
pole of Bavaria, with signs of local craftsmen guilds,
and often topped with a horizontal wreath from
which sausages, and wine/schnapps bottles are hung
May first is a day of celebration of spring, and the Maypole is a Bavarian tradition. Also traditional is the stealing of another village's maypole, in exchange for a ransom (lots of beer).
Next: Wieskirche and Oberammergau.

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