Above the Schwangau district of Hohenschwangau stands the eponymous Hohenschwangau Castle. The romantic residential castle, in which the Bavarian fairy tale king Ludwig II spent large parts of his childhood and youth, lies directly opposite the still more well-known castle Neuschwanstein. Hohenschwangau Castle can be visited daily.
The history of Hohenschwangau Castle
Originally, in the place of the castle stood earlier in the 12th century the castle Schwanstein, which served the nobles of Schwangau as a seat. In the following centuries, the owners of the castle changed many times and during various wars it was damaged, sometimes severely, and rebuilt again. In 1832, the then crown prince and later king Maximilian II discovered the castle, which was once again in ruins. He bought the building and commissioned the Munich architect Domenico Quaglio to rebuild the ruin in the neo-Gothic style. At his side he placed the German architect and master builder Georg Friedrich Ziebland. Quaglio, who had little experience in practical construction, had overall command of the building project, but this overtaxed him to such an extent that he collapsed on the building site shortly before the castle was completed and died at the age of only 50. The German architect Joseph Daniel Ohlmüller took over his post and continued the work. The painting of the rooms in the castle was done according to the designs of the artists Moritz von Schwind and Ludwig Lindenschmit the Elder. In the same condition as it was completed in 1837, Hohenschwangau Castle has survived to this day.
Maximilian II married Princess Marie of Prussia in 1842 and three years later the future fairy-tale king Ludwig II was born. Maximilian had chosen Hohenschwangau Castle as a summer residence for his small royal family. His wife Marie liked the castle, and especially the beautiful, idyllic Allgäu landscape around it, so much that the family even lived at Hohenschwangau for long periods of the year. Thus Ludwig II spent a lot of time in his childhood and youth in the cozy residential castle. He liked to use his time to go on extended excursions into nature. During one of these excursions, he discovered two small castle ruins very close to the castle. Later, in 1869, he had the now world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle built in their place. After the death of his father Maximilian, however, he was initially drawn to the capital Munich to succeed to the throne. Queen Marie lived alone in Hohenschwangau Castle from then on. After several delays, Neuschwanstein Castle was not yet completed in 1884, but large parts of it were already habitable, so Ludwig II moved in. Mother and son then lived in the neighboring castles for two years until Ludwig II died in 1886. Three years later, his mother Marie died at Hohenschwangau.
After her death, the castle stood empty for most of the time and was only used sporadically. In 1941, Prince Adalbert of Bavaria moved into the castle for a while after he had been excluded from the army as unworthy of military service due to the so-called "Prinzenerlass". Before that, the castle had already come into the possession of the Wittelsbach Equalization Fund. This organization has administered the property of the Wittelsbach noble dynasty, to which Ludwig II and his father also belonged, since the end of the monarchy in Bavaria in 1918. The Compensation Fund had come into being as a compromise solution to the disputes between the noble family and the Bavarian state over the properties of the Wittelsbach family. The Wittelsbach family had to hand over their property to the state, which in return undertook to provide financially for the family. Then, however, the Wittelsbachers wanted their property back and differences arose. As a solution, all the properties of the noble family went to the Equalization Fund and the income gained from the properties benefited the family.
The castle and its premises
The rooms in Hohenschwangau Castle are splendidly furnished and designed with great attention to detail. The interior decoration from the Biedermeier period has been preserved unchanged. The walls of the castle are adorned by beautiful paintings and murals, mostly depicting motifs from the world of legends and fairy tales. The largest room at Hohenschwangau is the castle's banquet hall, also called the Heroes' Hall, which is adorned with murals depicting motifs from the Wikina saga with Dietrich of Bern. A magnificent and noble interior gives the hall a royal atmosphere. Very worth seeing is the Orient Room, which served Queen Marie as a bedroom. It was furnished in oriental style in memory of Maximilian II's journey to Turkey and Greece. During a visit, one should not miss the Hohenstaufenzimmer. It was the dressing room of Maximilian II and Ludwig II; Ludwig also used it as a music room. His good friend, the composer Richard Wagner, is said to have enjoyed playing on the beautiful piano here during his visits to the palace. The Tasso Room, the bedroom of the kings, is impressive. Artistic paintings adorn the walls here and a starry sky, which can be illuminated from the floor above, has been integrated into the ceiling. The Berchta Room is also one of the highlights among the rooms in Hohenschwangau Castle. It was the writing room of Queen Marie and the pictures on the walls tell the Bavarian version of the saga of the birth of Charlemagne.
The romantic residential castle Hohenschwangau can be visited daily. Such a visit is only possible in the form of a guided tour and lasts about half an hour. Tickets can be purchased at the Hohenschwangau ticket center on site or online. From the ticket center, you can reach the castle in about a quarter of an hour on a leisurely walk. It is particularly romantic to be taken to Hohenschwangau Castle in a horse-drawn carriage. This is also possible. It is advisable to visit the two fantastic fairytale castles of Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein one right after the other. Combination tickets are available for this purpose. If you want to learn more about the history of the castles and about King Ludwig II and other Bavarian kings, the Museum of the Bavarian Kings on the shores of the Alpsee is the right place. In one of the most modern and beautiful museums in Germany, you can learn everything about the history of the Wittelsbach noble dynasty and the two castles.
Hohenschwangau Castle is a beautiful and romantic monument that gives deep insights into the life of Ludwig II and his family. Anyone vacationing in the Allgäu region should definitely take a look at this imposing structure.