Neuschwanstein Castle was built between 1869 and 1886 on the ruins of Vorder and Hinterhohenschwangau under King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The castle was built on a rugged hill against a backdrop of picturesque mountain scenery, and is known all over the world as a symbol of idealized romantic architecture and for the tragic story of its owner. King Ludwig II's extravagance and romanticism earned him the title Mad King Ludwig.
Neuschwanstein was intended to "embody the true spirit of the medieval German castle," as King Ludwig II wrote in a letter to his friend Richard Wagner, and he planned his private refuge with the help of a stage designer rather than an architect. The picture cycles in the castle were inspired by the operas of Wagner (such as "Tannhäuser" and "Lohengrin"), to whom the king dedicated the castle, and the corresponding medieval legends from Wagner’s works. Despite the medieval motif of the decor, the castle was actually outfitted with latest technology of the time with running water and central heating.
Today Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular of all the palaces and castles in Europe. Every year 1.4 million people visit "the castle of the fairytale king” that was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle.
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