The castle that inspired Walt Disney to create Sleeping Beauty Castle is visited by more than a million tourists each year! Its history began in 1869. Then, at the initiative of the Bavarian King Ludwig II the foundation stone was laid for one of the most popular and scenic attractions not only in Germany but also throughout Europe. The king wanted to recreate a German knight castle of the early Middle Ages.
It is known that the Thuringian Wartburg Castle, especially its Singers’ Hall and Assembly Hall, inspired the king to construct the giant castle. It is assumed that the competition of singers in Richard Wagner's “Tannhauser” opera was held there. The castle frescoes were created themed on Wagner's operas. When Ludwig was 15, Lohengrin opera made a strong impression on him. Coming to the throne, he became a friend and patron of the composer.
The king ordered theater artist Jank to make the sketches of the castle. It is no wonder that the castle gives the impression of scenery for a fairy tale setting. The main attraction of the castle is the huge Singers’ Hall. It is decorated with frescoes from the Parsifal saga. The hall features excellent acoustics: Ludwig II planned to listen to the opera here. But the first performance took place in the Singers’ Hall only in 1933, on the 50th anniversary of Wagner’s death. Since 1969, concerts have been held in Neuschwanstein in honor of his operas every September.
The Throne Hall combines the second and the third floors. The rich decoration, resembling the interior of the Church of All Saints in Munich, reflects Ludwig II’s view on the royal power as sacred. The king’s bedroom is decorated with romantic frescoes themed on Tristan and Isolde. Another highlight of the castle is a small artificial grotto with stalactites, colored electric lighting and a waterfall. It is located between the salon and the study and resembles the grotto from the Tannhauser saga.
It is widely believed that a trip to Neuschwanstein became an inspiration for P.I. Tchaikovsky to compose the ballet "Swan Lake". However, there is no reliable proof of his visit there.
Interestingly, although outwardly Neuschwanstein looks like a medieval fortress, the most modern technology was used inside. The rooms were heated, they had a water line; servants were called by an electric bell and food was taken up by an elevator. On the second and third floors there were even telephones. The flow of tourists in the castle is strictly regulated: you can only enter it with a group. The tour around the halls and chambers of the king on the 2nd and 3rd floors lasts about half an hour.