Schloss Neuschwanstein, or Neuschwanstein Castle (as it is known to the million+ of foreign visitors each year), is one of the most fully documented of Germany's historic buildings.
Far be it then for us on Romantic Road Germany to add yet another web page giving a quick overview of the history and the life of Ludwig. And anyway, if you are visiting Schwangau, you are going to see it internally or externally and are probably going to read enough about it during your stay.
So what's left to say about the castle? We nabbed a local tour guide who's got many years of experience in taking people to the area and asked her to answer some useful questions about it? Such as, for example:
Neuschwanstein is the fairytale castle of Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria. It's the castle they flew over in the children's film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It's the motif on thousands of pieces of Bavarian tourist tat and the destination for hundreds of tour coaches every day. It's a romantic idea of a castle built during the 19th century in a beautiful mountain setting.
A better question than you might think. In high season, the castle is jammed full of tour groups and individual travellers from early until late (if you want to choose a less busy time she thought that later in the afternoon might be a better option as many of the tour groups have to be on their way to their overnight stop).
The interior of the castle is interesting - but not astounding - and it can require a goodly wait to buy tickets and then another wait for your alloted time to tour to arrive (see lower). And many people's most vivid memory of the spectacular castle and history is of the exterior of it - either looking at it in its setting in front of the mountains or else alternatively from behind it (or above it) and out onto the River Lech and the Forggensee.
But if you are there and have the time, by all means...
Just over half an hour.
Or, of course, if you have some more time once you have visited the castle.
Definitely take the time to walk up to the Marienbrücke (the suspension footbridge behind the castle) where some of the lovely shots of Neuschwanstein with Schwangau in the background have been taken. This bridge (which is older than the castle) spans the gap over a waterfall nearly 100 metres below. It is not named after the Virgin Mary but after King Ludwig's mother.
(The Marienbrücke is not far from where the bus up to the castle drops people off but be careful that you do not miss your allocated tour time.)
Or visit the less-famous (and thus less-frequented) neighbouring castle of Hohenschwangau. As you may tire of hearing, King Ludwig only lived in Neuschwanstein for less than six months and Hohenschwangau Castle, the residence of his parents, was where he grew up.
Or walk down towards the Alpsee, the small lake to the south of the two castles. There is a pleasant walk around the shore of the lake with some lovely views back across the water to the historic buildings.
Or walk up into the hills or mountains on one of the clearly-marked trails (pick up a walking map at the local tourist office or one of the shops) and catch some amazing views of the castles and the surrounding mountain scenery from above.
Finally, we asked our tame guide for some of her top tips for visiting the castle:
If you'd like some more information from the official source, details such as opening times, prices, etc., are available from the Bavarian Palace Department's website: www.neuschwanstein.de
Q. Where is the nearest place to stay?
A. The nearest village is Schwangau at the base of the hill. Here is our page about accommodation in Schwangau - the closest hotels to the castle are the Hotel Müller or the Hotel Alpenstuben.
Q. What does the name "Neuschwanstein" mean in English?
A. Sometimes you will read that it means "New Swan Stone" in English, which is directly translated but not entirely correct. The Schwansee (not the Swan Lake!) is a small lake near Hohenschwangau castle, which was originally called Burg Schwanstein as it was built on rock ("stein") above the lake. The later construction was therefore called "new" Schwanstein or "Neuschwanstein".
Q. What is the altitude and geographic location of Neuschwanstein?
A. Neuschwanstein castle is located at 925m above sea level (just over 3000ft) and its geographical co-ordinates are 47.5576, 10.7498.
Q. Who owns Neuschwanstein Castle?
A. Technically speaking, it belongs to the German state government of Bavaria and it is managed by the state department for historic buildings, lakes and gardens.
Q. What is the connection between Neuschwanstein and Disney?
A. Although many people think that the castle in the film Cinderella was inspired by Neuschwanstein, the confirmed connection is with the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, Florida. Walt Disney and his wife had taken a trip to Europe and visited Neuschwanstein prior to building Disneyland. The Sleeping Beauty Castle is the symbol of Disney and appears on the titles of Walt Disney Pictures.
Q. How can I get to Neuschwanstein on public transport?
A. The nearest train station is at Füssen. From the train station, take a public bus to the castles in Hohenschwangau - they have their own stop and you can buy the ticket on the bus.
Q. Where can I park near Neuschwanstein?
A. There are a number of private car parks around Hohenschwangau, with at least three very close to the ticket centre where you buy the tour tickets or pick up ones that you have reserved in advance.
Q. Can I take a tour from Munich to Neuschwanstein?
A. Indeed you can. In fact, there are several options, including a trip to King Ludwig's nearby Linderhof Castle.