Perched above Hohenschwangau, near Füssen in Southern Bavaria, it is the realization of a childhood dream. But Neuschwanstein Castle was not built as a place for royal representation duties: it was a place of retreat.
Neuschwanstein was ordered by king Ludwig II in 1869. The building should display an idealized medieval fortress, though this appearance was only an illusion: behind the curtain, the most modern technologies of that time had been installed. All rooms were heated with a hot-air central heating. At all levels, one could find running tap water, in the kitchen even hot and cold. The toilets were equipped with automatic flush systems. The King could summon his aides over an electrical calling system, and in the third and fourth floors, he even had telephones to speak with his servants. Dishes and meals did not have to be carried over stairs but were transported with a specially built meal elevator.
The construction itself was a place for modern technology implementation. The cranes ran on steam-engines, the throne hall was erected as a cladded steel construction. Another specificity of Neuschwanstein’s are the large glass windows: already at the time of King Ludwig II was it uncommon to manufacture those.
Yet he didn’t live to see his dream completed. Just 7 weeks after Ludwig’s death in 1886, Neuschwanstein was opened to visitors: in the wake of the enormous debts the king had accumulated, the Bavarian government decided the only way to gain a return was to open it to paying visitors. To this day, it is one of the world’s most renowned monuments, often described as “the fairy tale castle” that would have inspired Walt Disney. It attracts over a million tourists every year. The owner now is the State of Bavaria, which administers it through the Department of Public Castles, Parks and Seas.