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There isn't a more recognizable castle in all of Europe!  Neuschwanstein was made famous by "crazy" Ludwig II and served as the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle.  1.3 million people visit it annually, so we decided we had to see what all the fuss was about. 

The Details
Address: Alpseestr. 12 D-87645 Hohenschwangau  +49 (0) 83 82 930 830
Cost: 12e adults, children under 18 free/23e combo ticket for Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein
Parking: 5e
Time: Plan to spend the entire day in the area.  Once you've toured the castle you can hike in the neighboring hills, visit the small town of Fussen and even paraglide if that's up your alley.  
Tip: Beat the ticket line by reserving tickets ahead of time by calling.  It will cost you 1.80e per ticket, but it beats waiting in long summer lines.  When you arrive at the ticket center, walk over to the reservation line.  You can also make reservations online.  
Remember, the ticket center is below the castles, so there is a fair amount of walking up hill.  Horse drawn carriages and buses will take you to the foot of the castle for a fee.  

This is the front entrance of Neuschwanstein. Did you know it was red? I didn't.

Getting to Neuschwanstein from Munich is an easy drive just short of 2 hours down the freeway.  I called ahead for reservations which allowed us to bypass the long ticket lines.  Parking was easy and plentiful, but then again it was November, not exactly high season.

There are no pictures from inside the castle because photos are not allowed. The castle was never finished and it was opened for tours immediately after Ludwig's death. Sorry to disappoint, but the tour is a rushed 30 minute dash through about 9 rooms. With 60 people per tour, it's not condusive to asking questions or appreciating what is in each room. His bed chamber alone took 4 years to carve--I would liked to have dilly dallied a bit, but it was not possible. 

The lion is a power symbol in Bavaria and you will see him in connection with royalty a lot.

The yellow castle called Hohenschwangau means Valley of the Swan. It was Ludwig's childhood vacation home and swans play prominently in the decoration of the home. The swan is a regal creature in Bavaria. The family lived in Hohenschwangau until 1912 when, upon the death of the king, it was turned into a museum.

We had a perfect fall day to enjoy the area. The walk up to the "Disney" castle takes about 30 minutes from the yellow castle. One can ride in the horse carriage up to the castle, but we Neal's walked up and down. Donuts and soda pop were our rewards.

View of Hohenschwangau from the trail up to Neuschwanstein

Ludwig only lived in Neuschwanstein for about 3.5 months. He and his doctor were suspiciously found face down in the lake only days after being declared politically insane. Of course, he was murdered, but Bavaria will not tell you that.

Ludwig must have had a sence of humor--look at these great gargoyles.

View from the bridge.

Waterfall below bridge

At this point in the day Eden has had enough castle, photos and walking. She is demanding the soda I've been promising!  The area surrounding the castle is beautiful and worth exploring, but not today; my kids have had enough.  I'm glad we made the trek though and we'll have to come again.

This is the gorgeous valley below.

From the castle looking toward the Marienbruke, the bridge that is usually choked with tourists taking photos of the castle.  You can access trail heads from the bridge for hiking.  

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