I loved visiting this little area of Germany for many reasons: the castles, the scenery, the little towns and villages. The people were friendly and the experience was wonderful. It was interesting getting here. We got lost in our rental car driving from Innsbruck, Austria to Schwangau. We went on a snowpass, and definately thought we were lost at one time (although we enjoyed the mountain views). We saw this sign for Neuschwanstein, but after that sign, we didn't see another one! We finally got there around 2:45, and the last tickets were being sold at 3:00pm, so we ran up the hill in the snow, got the last tickets, then waited in a horse drawn carriage for the ride to the castle. The guy who drove the carriage started out late, we got to the castle, ran to the entrance, and our english tour was gone! I ran to the front of the line, the guy let us in, and we barely caught our english tour as it was just entering the castle. I don't know if you would call it a fond memory, but more like an adventure.
The picture cycles of Neuschwanstein were inspired to Ludwig by the operas of Richard Wagner, to whom the king dedicated the castle. The pictures were not however directly modeled on Wagner's works, but on the medieval legends that the composer had also taken as the basis for his works.
The pictures on the walls of the castle deal with love and guilt, repentance and salvation. Kings and knights, poets and lovers people the rooms. There are three main figures: the poet Tannhauser, the swan knight Lohengrin and his father, the Grail King Parzival (Parsifal). These were Ludwig's models and kindred spirits.
Mad King Luwig
Schwangau is a beautiful small town. Surprisingly small and without the large number of tourists that you might expect.
Expect because it is very pretty but more so because within a few kilometres of the town, lies "Mad" King Ludwig's four spectacular Castles and the famous "Im der Wiess" church.
All within a few kilmetres of the town, there are places to visit which create the largest pressure that you have ever experienced, to stand up and leave.
Nowhere else in the world, in my opinion, no other man made objects anywhere in the world, with the possible exception of the Egyptian pyramids, will anything draw you to just stand and marvel.
To just breath in the exquisite, grotesque, ornate and criminal extravaganza that you will ever witness.
I confess being absorbed in this folly of extravagance. It is mind boggling, beautiful and simultaneously decadent.
It will cost you a few Euros to visit these places, but do NOT miss one of them.
"Gold, gold and more gold"
Don't get too excited. It's no longer real gold.
It was however, decades ago, all genuine.
From this gilded fountain in the lake and the few gilded statues in the gardens, one gets an idea of what is to come.
Only an idea mind you, because once you step inside, you get the overpowering feeing of GOLD.
"To the Grotto"
After taking the tour of the castle, slowly (puff puff) walk up to visit the Grotto from where Ludwig watched plays and listened to music by his "lover" (??) Wagner.
Then you look down on the castle roof, the gardens and the gazebo in the background