***image1***If you are looking for a trip that has history preserved at its finest, a small town in Bavaria known as Hohenschwangau is the place to be. The two royal castles that reside there overlook surrounding villages and crystal-clear lakes and are surrounded by the beautiful Bavarian Alps.
While the view from the outside is rather fascinating, the real story lies behind the walls of the beautiful castles. The castles, which are both connected back to King Ludwig II of Bavaria, are standing exactly like they were when they were built in the 1800s.
The Hohenschwangau Castle is perched on a hillside and can be reached by walking or for a few euros you can catch a horse and buggy ride. The castle, which was destroyed by Napolean in the 1500s, was re-built 300 years later and housed Crown Prince Maximillian of Bavaria and a young King Ludwig II. Entrance to the castle is only permitted with the guided tour. Tours cost around €7 and are offered in German and English with special language radios available.
The tour of Hohenschwangau depicts the royal life lived by Maximillian and Ludwig as rooms are preserved exactly as they stood in the 1800s. The tour takes you through rooms such as the Hall of Heroes and Knights, which spans the width of the castle, and the oriental room, which used to be the bedroom of Queen Mary. As you stroll through and look at the various paintings and artworks, you will find yourself in awe of the incredibly fine detail put into the castle.
The other castle in the area looks like something right out of a fairy tale hence the nicknames “Fairy Tale Castle” and “Walt Disney Castle.” The Neuschwanstein Castle sits majestically atop a small mountain hundreds of feet above Hohenschwangau and peers out over the surrounding countryside. You can walk – or rather hike up to this castle or catch a horse and buggy or one of the small buses running every 15 minutes. It was a little rainy on our trip so my wife and I decided to hop on a bus. After a winding trip through the hillside forest we arrived at a drop-off point; we hiked along some paths for a few minutes until a break in the trees showed the mammoth castle peering down at us. I stood in awe of the castle, despite being soaked by the rain.
***image2***The Neuschwanstein Castle can also only be entered by guided tours and is offered in the same languages mentioned before. Once the tour started I realized the inside of the castle was more impressive than the outside. The castle was King Ludwig II’s first, but he died before his throne was even put in. The tour takes you through his servant’s rooms, dining room, bedroom, study, living room, dance hall and throne room. The art in Neuschwanstein turns it up a notch compared to Hohenschwangau. It is simply amazing to see the detail in the wood and art; it really can’t be explained in words. The tour ends with a remodeled café in which you can get some cake or coffee.
Hohenschwangau makes a great day trip when staying anywhere in Bavaria. To find more information about tours, hotels, activities or directions to Hohenschwangau you can visit their Web site at www.hohenschwangau.de/562.0.html.
We stayed in the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch, which offers great trips to Hohenschwangau weekly. The Edelweiss Web site is www.edelweisslodgeandresort.com.