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Neuschwanstein castle or Not?

Carriere...
Level Contributor
176 posts
186 reviews
Neuschwanstein castle or Not?

I'm doing some serious itinerary planning for a multiple city Munich, Salzburg, Vienna trip next year. I hadn't realized that there were so many Wittelsbach castles and some that are much more convenient than Neuschwanstein to Munich I'd kind of assumed I had to go to Neuschwanstein Castle ( much as one visits Versailles for the castle experience from Paris). I understand that Neuschwanstein is probably the best but do you feel that the Residence would be a substitute. I'm looking for a diverse highlight trip with a mix of experiences leaning towards cultural and historically important sites. I didn't see every castle in the vicinity of London and didn't feel that I had missed out would eliminating Neuschwanstein be a mistake?

22 replies to this topic
Mainz, Germany
Level Contributor
11,912 posts
65 reviews
1. Re: Neuschwanstein castle or Not?

Speaking of cultural and historically important: Neuschwanstein is neither. But together with neighboring Hohenschwangau (where Ludwig grew up) and the Museum of the Bavarian Kings you can surely learn a good bit of the royal family’s history there and get the spectacular scenery on top. And in neighboring Füssen you could even visit a real castle: Hohes Schloss, one of the best preserved gothic castles in Germany.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Destination Expert
for Stuttgart, Baden-Wurttemberg
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15,825 posts
53 reviews
2. Re: Neuschwanstein castle or Not?

We took a friend with us last May to visit Germany. We stayed two nights in a real well-preserved medieval castle, Burg Katzenstein- www.burgkatzenstein.de , which she loved. Then we visited Neuschwanstein which instantly became her favorite place on that trip. It's iconic, and although a recent palace from the late 1800s and not medieval, it should be appreciated for the architectural masterpiece it is in its lovely setting on the edge of the Alps. If possible, spend a night in a hotel in Hohenschwangau ( www.hohenschwangau.de ) that has close up views of the lit-up by night palace from your room to view it under different lighting and weather conditions. Early mornings and later in the evening are great when the day-tripping tourist hordes have left.

While in Salzburg which has a medieval fortress, I highly recommend going to Werfen for the world's largest ice caves high in the Alps above town. And while there, visit a real medieval castle there, Hohenwerfen, on a steep mountainside.

Germany
Level Contributor
897 posts
3. Re: Neuschwanstein castle or Not?

Suggesting that the Residenz might be a substitute for Neuschwanstein is rather ... strange. Somehow obviously it is a more important place in every regard. Unless you've got your education by Disney.

However Oli errs twice when he denies Neuschwanstein any cultural and historical importance. It is historically important because such expensive follies weren't tolerated anymore by the bourgeois governments and they ultimately led do Ludwig's downfall. Therefore Neuschwanstein is very much a symbol for the clash between modern rationality and constitutional power versus poetic personal dreams and absolute power. Culturally it is meanwhile an interesting expression of the Gesamtkunstwerk idea heavily influenced by Wagner's operas. It is one of the important buildings of historism and it rather obviously looks pretty.

The rather simple point many are trying here to make is that it is not a good day trip from Munich because it's too much travel time. There are tons of nearer and equally worthwhile destinations. If you go, go properly stay a night in Füssen see it as Oli said and take Ettal abbey and Wieskirche into the trip.

No one here seriously denies that Neuschwanstein is a worthy destination. It's just not the only one and there are many more convenient ones.

Mainz, Germany
Level Contributor
11,912 posts
65 reviews
4. Re: Neuschwanstein castle or Not?

Valid points, Lubitsch. Just not sure whether the concepts of absolutism and Gesamtkunstwerk are what guides any international tourist considering a visit of Neuschwanstein. But, yes, with that in mind it is not an outright petty building.

Carriere...
Level Contributor
176 posts
186 reviews
5. Re: Neuschwanstein castle or Not?

I greatly appreciate the insightful input. Much of the joy of travel is learning and my learning curve of German history is definitely on the uptick. I'd never heard of the Wittelsbach family it is perhaps not a good thing but it is a truthful statement.I harbor all the stereotypic Bavarian tourist expectations beer gardens, great food gemutlich and a Disney modelled Cinderellas castle from Neuschwanstein. There are reason's why certain sites become highly visited something unique, the finest example of something, historic. Neuschwanstein is the most visited site in your country and I felt it would a serious omission. It doesn't make a convenient day trip from Munich and with the wealth of first rate experiences closer I think it would be more practical to forgo.

Germany
Level Contributor
897 posts
6. Re: Neuschwanstein castle or Not?

Neuschwanstein is not the most visited site, that's Cologne cathedral.

As for the reasons how certain places become iconic or popular ... these reasons are sometimes not very good. Traveling to places where Game of Thrones or Harry Potter were shot is one such example.

Basically it's about seeing a country through the lens of one's own cliches which strikes me as problematic. You may spend time here but if you are trapped in a loop with Sound of Music, Neuschwanstein, Rothenburg, car museums, beer and some Nazis on top of it all ... you never left your mind and you never really arrived here. It's the same as if I went to the USA and asked for a Wild West Show, a skyscraper, Hollywood and Las Vegas.

The problem with German destinations is that most Anglo-Saxon (or French or Italian) travel writers and even art historians don't get the country and don't really know it. Early on in the 19th century when tourism started as well as the writing of art history which includes all the buildings you're seeing Germany soon became trapped in a view of the country as quaint, backward and dreamy. This manifested itself in writings like Madame de Stael's De l'Allemagne and in English tourists who went up the Rhine on their way to Italy and discovered the Upper Middle Rhine valley. Many of the tourist destinations like Rothenburg, routes and cliches were etched in stone already back then ... sometimes with good reason sometimes not.

Later on additional layers were added but some areas never made it into the international reception of Germany which obviously cooled during teh two world wars. That the country was the political centre of Europe in 1000 to at least 1150 and also the cultural centre with its Romanesque art never really settled in the international art histories which are often surprisingly superficial and full of holes. That partly explains why a region like the Harz which offers all what tourists are searching for when they think of Germany is still pretty much undiscovered by foreign tourists even though it is full of half-timbered houses and medieval churches. Also the Hanseatic league totally doesn't fit into any cliche about Germany and is therefore often completely ignored though its towns are among the finest destinations in the whole country. The UNESCO World heritage sites point out the way but it's hard to break the cliches.

When you pick a random tourist itinerary for Italy of France you have a good chance that it won't suck completely, but as for Germany I wouldn't bet on that. My favorite example is Rick Steves who managed to write a guide book on the country and leave out all seven UNESCO world heritage old towns in Germany. I don't think there are many countries where something about them like this would be possible and where many people would even remotely still think that this is a good guide book and perfectly reasonable.

Gambrills, MD
Destination Expert
for Fussen
Level Contributor
3,504 posts
157 reviews
7. Re: Neuschwanstein castle or Not?

You might want to visit Lake Chiemsee, more or less between Munich and Salzburg, at the base of the Alps. There are islands in the lake, and on one of the islands is another of Ludwig’s palaces. This one is patterned after Versailles and has a hall of Mirrors that seems to go on forever.

Paradise, California
Destination Expert
for Rhineland-Palatinate
Level Contributor
7,232 posts
29 reviews
8. Re: Neuschwanstein castle or Not?

"...cultural and historically important sites."

Nothing much ever happened at N'stein. It was built, occupied for around 6 months, then the tourists came to gawk after Ludwig II's death. That doesn't mean it's historically meaningless, but as someone indicated above, many visitors go there to live out some sort of Disney fantasy rather than to learn about local historical events anyway.

I agree it's a poor day trip from Munich - nearly 5 hours on trains and buses + a long walk up and back - for a very pricey and overcrowded 30-minute tour.

https:/…a-17887035

To us castle-less North Americans, pretty much anything can be called a castle. Not so in Germany. N'stein is a "Schloss" (palatial residence) according to Germans, not a castle ("Burg"), at least not in the German sense of the word. The difference is an important one to Germans, so if you wish to get in on this cultural/historical lesson, a little googling will likely do the trick. I once bookmarked this kids' lesson on the differences - so if you know some German it's in simplified language - or you could run it through a translator:

https:/…index

The Salzburg region is a good place for castles:

https://www.salzburg-burgen.at/en/

Edited: 1:08 am, September 24, 2018
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
41,743 posts
674 reviews
9. Re: Neuschwanstein castle or Not?

I would visit Neuschwanstein if you are totally interested in seeing it for yourself.

Munich, Germany
Level Contributor
5,408 posts
13 reviews
10. Re: Neuschwanstein castle or Not?

No, I don't think it would be a mistake to leave it out. I mean, if you have to ASK the question, then seeing Neuschwanstein is obviously not that high on your list of priorities anyway.

I'd recommend Herrenchiemsee near Prien am Chiemsee instead. This castle is actually more beautiful on the inside, with lots of gold. Yesterday, I've seen a book that recommended it as a substitute for Versailles, so it can't be that bad.

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