Having seen and heard about the castle every Disney castle is based on there was no way we were going to Munich without including a little road trip down to Neuschwanstein…
Commissioned by Ludwig II in the 1860s, Neuschwanstein Castle was built by the famously shy King as a place to withdraw from public life – a real irony considering it attracts a staggering 1.4 million visitors every year and is one of the most popular castles in Europe. The appeal is completely understanding. Built on a hill overlooking rolling farmland and forests it seems to almost float amongst the clouds.
There are shuttle buses that take you from the parking lots and restaurants below up to the castle but for those feeling more intrepid there are a variety of forests trails which, though steep and sometimes troublesome, add to the adventure of the visit.
Visiting in August the castle grounds were packed by the time we had driven down from Munich and climbed up to the castle proper so, after careful consideration, we decided to enjoy the exterior without venturing inside.
And, of course, we took some time to take in the view!
We then headed back down to ground level, hopped in the car and set out towards our next stop of the day.
Also commissioned by Ludwig II, Linderhof Palace is less well known than Neuschwanstein but, in my honest opinion, more magical and the one to choose if you only have time to visit one. After a short trek from the parking area through lush greenery you find yourself in a pristine wonderland of impeccable beauty. And as the lesser-known Palace you have it virtually to yourself compared to the packed crowds at Neuschwanstein!
Wandering around the grounds of the tiny, perfect palace we stumbled on gorgeous gardens and water features galore. It’s easy to see why they’re considered one of the most beautiful garden designs in history.
It was enough to make me jump for joy!
As if the lush green grounds weren’t enough the forest held hidden treasure….the grotto!
Now, to understand the impetus behind this it’s important you know just how much Ludwig II loved Wagner’s operas. They were the inspiration behind all of the castles commissioned during his lifetime (most especially Linderhof and Neuschwanstein) and the model for his grotto at Linderhof – a completely artificial dripstone cave with a lake and waterfall based on the first act of the Wagner opera “Tannhäuser”.
Built between 1876 and 1877 the grotto had the benefit of some of the first electric works in Bavaria and featured a gilt boat in the shape of a shell which Ludwig would sit in as a servant rowed him around the lake. It’s one of those places that have to be seen to be believed as standing in the dark and watching the lights swell to the soundtrack of the famous opera is truly a surreal experience!
From the grotto we wandered aimlessly taking in the rolling beauty of the palace grounds.
Sadly there were no pictures allowed inside the palace itself (not that it stopped SOME people from taking them. I always find it annoying and disrespectful when people ignore requests which are so simple…) but the building itself is just as gorgeous as the interiors.
As the sun started to set we took one last lap around the palace…
…and then hopped in the car to start the journey back to Munich, passing some truly beautiful countryside on the way.
And, of course, stopping to make a few friends!
As the clouds started to roll in we hopped on the autobahn and took full advantage of the lack of speed limit. A fab end to a very fun day!
This month’s Travel Throwback posts are dedicated to a Bavarian adventure in Munich I took late last summer. So, grab a bench in your favourite biergarten, order a pretzel the size of your head and enjoy the journey!