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Schloss Neu Schwanstein

September 18, 2003 Schloss Neu Schwanstein in Germany, by Anya Eber

"Crazy, absolutely insane." Those were the words that ushered in the sight of Schloss Neu Schwanstein. Of course it was about five minutes before the women blocking my view moved and allowed me to actually glimpse the castle. But all in all they couldn’t have described it better. Neu Schwanstein would have been perfectly at home in Disney Land, but here in the Alps was another thing. The castle seemed to have been built for the pure purpose to shock. Turrets, colors, decorations, and fanfare raced wildly across the castle, all competing for prominence. The castle was definitely in no way built for defense but instead for art and decoration.

If the outside was any indication of Neu Schwanstein’s interior it certainly wasn’t enough. Hall after hall of inlaid mother of pearl, carved wood, tapestries, paintings, and jewels stretched in all directions. In one room King Ludwig had even gone as far as to recreate a grotto or underground cave, stalactites and all.

But the question remained as to why someone would create a castle like Neu Schwanstein. What was it that had inspired Ludwig? We reached the dining room and an answer to this castle. “I suppose it lies in the history of Ludwig,” our tour guide started. “Some say it was insanity, others say it was an attempt at escape. We won’t ever really know for sure as Neu Schwanstein isn’t complete neither is the story. Ludwig’s castle was built during the 1800’s as an escape from the intrigue of court life but was it also an escape from life itself? We have gathered clues, many of which come from Neu Schwanstein itself but none that give us a direct answer. The whole castle was built as a giant stage for all of Wagner’s operas. In each room a different opera plays across the walls and in some cases like the grotto is the wall. But before Ludwig could escape into his world of music something went very wrong. It might have been that his castle escape route was taking too long for Ludwig and possibly for others. Because one day the Bavarian King was found in a lake. Records have it that this wasn’t an accident. Perhaps it was Ludwig’s choice perhaps it wasn’t. We won’t ever for sure but we can always guess.”

Leaving Neu Schwanstein I looked back and wondered if perhaps I was wrong and that Neu Schwanstein’s whole purpose was defense, defense against life.

Last Updated: September 18, 2003

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