Neuschwanstein Castle History

The history of Neuschwanstein Castle is filled with mystery, tragedy, and magnificence.

King Ludwig II’s vision was that the castle would be built to symbolize German Romanticism and be a tribute to the iconic Richard Wagner.

Unfortunately, the castle’s construction was cut short due to the untimely death of the king, and it was left unfinished due to financial troubles.

However, this didn’t stop the castle from attaining its magnificent glory. As time went by, Neuschwanstein became everyone’s dream destination.

The castle soon became the iconic heritage symbol of Germany.

To know more about the history of Neuschwanstein Castle, let’s dive into the attraction’s magical past.

Neuschwanstein Castle History Timeline

Construction of the castle

1864: King Ludwig II describes his ideal version of the future Neuschwanstein Castle to Richard Wagner.

1866: The king lost his sovereignty to Prussia and thus insisted on building his kingdom by building his castles and palaces.

1868: The construction of Neuschwanstein Castle begins.

1869: The foundation stone of the New Castle was laid on 5 September.

1886: King Ludwig II dies under mysterious circumstances by drowning in Lake Starnberg. 

The castle construction had to be stopped.

1886-1887: The Neuschwanstein Castle was opened as a museum for the public.

This happens just seven weeks after the king’s untimely death.

1919: The Bavarian government takes control of Neuschwanstein Castle.

1933 to 1945: It became a storage facility for the Nazis during World War II.

1949: The Bavarian government opens the castle to the general public.

Origins of Neuschwanstein Castle (1864)

History of the Neuschwanstein Castle
Image: Nico Benedickt on Unsplash

King Ludwig first mentioned the construction of his dream castle to Richard Wagner, a German theater director.

He wanted to build a castle in the old German knight’s castle style.

The king further described how he would love to live there, with several cozy, habitable guest rooms and a splendid view of the noble Säuling.

He wrote,” I intend to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles.

Furthermore, he described that it would remind Wagner of “Tannhäuser” (Singers’ Hall) and “Lohengrin'” (the path to the Chapel).

Although King Ludwig II expresses everything about the castle, he needs to consider the political reasoning behind building it.

In 1866, Bavaria, which allied with Austria, lost a war against Prussia.

Due to this, Bavaria was forced to accept the “defensive and offensive alliance,” which removed the king’s right to dispose of his army in case of a war.

From 1866 on, Ludwig II had no definite rule over his kingdom, which he considered one of his most considerable misfortunes.

He began planning his kingdom in 1867 through castles and palaces to overcome this.

Castle Construction Begins (1868)

According to Neuschwanstein Castle’s history, its construction was King Ludwig II’s passion project.

He wanted to create a magnificent castle that included the romantic ideals of the Middle Ages and the legends of the country’s past.

This is why he was involved in every aspect of the castle, from design to construction.

On the Jugend (a narrow mountain ridge near Marienbrucke) were the ruins of two castles: Vorder and Hinterhohenschwangau.

The viewpoint gave a magnificent view of the mountains and lakes, so the king decided to build the ‘New Castle’ there.

King Ludwig had a clear vision: the castle had to be a better version of an ideal medieval castle than Hohenschwangau.

Also, in 1867, he visited the recently constructed Wartburg, a castle built in the Middle Ages.

He was particularly inspired by the singers’ and writers’ halls, which soon became a symbol for the King’s New Castle.

Due to this, Eduard Riedel had to be creative and take ideas from sets designed by Munich scene painter Christan Jank.

Changes in Construction (1869 -1880)

The castle was built rapidly and as fast as the king wanted.

As the building site was on a mountain, constructing it was difficult.

However, the foundation stone of the castle was laid on 5 September 1869.

The Gateway Building, where King Ludwig II lived for several years, was completed first.

As more construction occurred, the king became more reserved and kept away from human contact.

This made them skittish about his royal dignity, leading to many changes during the castle’s building.

According to Neuschwanstein Castle history, the guest rooms were replaced with Moorish Hall, and the writing room was turned into a small cave.

Although these plans were never carried out.

Death of King Ludwig II (1886)

One of the Neuschwanstein Castle history facts states that the construction was halted due to the King’s untimely death.

He mysteriously died while on a boat trip on Lake Stenberg.

Did You Know?

The castle was named Neuschwanstein only after King Ludwig’s death.

Its Museum Journey(1886-1887)

Seven weeks after its visionary’s death, Neuschwanstein Castle was opened as a museum.

Visitors were allowed to visit the completed parts of the museum. And witness Ludwig’s grandeur.

It quickly became a huge tourist attraction, with more than 1.4 million tourists visiting it every year.

Change of Ownership (1919)

Given its popularity, the Bavarian state took ownership of Neuschwanstein Castle.

The history of Neuschwanstein Castle states that after the king’s death, the castle’s ownership was passed on to his nephew.

But then it was eventually passed on from the Wittelsbach family to the Bavarian government in 1919.

The Nazi Invasion (1933- 1945)

Neuschwanstein Castle’s fate took a turn, and at one point it was under the Nazi invasion.

During this time, they used the castle as a storage facility to store the looted art and treasures from across Europe.

However, after World War II ended in 1945, Allied troops occupied the castle and used it as a base for the American forces.

The castle was returned to the Bavarian government, and restoration was done to cover the damage caused by the war.

After that, Neuschwanstein Castle was opened again to the public in 1949.

The castle quickly gained popularity and is now considered one of the country’s most iconic and significant landmarks.


How old is Neuschwanstein Castle?

The Neuschwanstein Castle is 137 years old.

It was built in the 19th century by King Ludwig II. The castle’s construction is still not complete.

The castle represented a modern outlook and included several newly invented technologies.

What is the architectural style of Neuschwanstein Castle?

The architectural style of Neuschwanstein Castle is Romanesque Revival.

Built by King Ludwig II, the main motive behind its construction was to create a comfortable and cozy residence for the royalty.

What are some interesting facts about the Neuschwanstein Castle?

All thanks to the hydroelectric power plant that was built near it.

Is Neuschwanstein Castle connected to Hohenschwangau Castle?

Hohenschwangau Castle was the childhood home of King Ludwig II.

The king took a lot of inspiration from Hohenswchwangau to design the Neuschwanstein Castle.

Neuschwanstein is located in the Hohenschwangau village.

Who built/designed Neuschwanstein Castle?

Christian Jank, a theatrical set designer under the command of King Ludwig II, designed it. 

Featured Image:

Aashima (1)
About the author

Aashima is an avid traveler who seeks out thrills and lives a simple, peaceful life. Bright clear skies are her calling.