When Ludwig began building this castle in 1869, he instructed the workers to interfere as little as possible with the nature surrounding the castle. The view from the windows is as magnificent as the building itself. Built on a mountain-top overlooking the glorious Forggen Lake, and surrounded by a thick forest and a waterfall, this castle’s setting is a delight to the eye in all seasons. Winter here is especially magical. It’s not hard to imagine why Ludwig went on secret midnight rides through his territory on a golden sleigh. The structure was built in a Romanesque style, and is the embodiment of a romantic medieval knight’s castle. Although it was worked on for 17 years it was never finished. Each of the living and bedrooms is a homage to Richard Wagner’s operas: Lohengrin, Tristan and Isolde, Parzival. Ludwig’s obsession with Wagner’s music was so great that he often dressed himself up as his favourite opera character, the swan knight Lohengrin.
Take the train to Füssen (2 hours, there’s a direct one daily at 08:51) and then bus N°9713 to Hohenschwangau. If you’re travelling by car, use part of the famous Romantic Road (www.romantischestrasse.de), which begins in Würzburg and culminates in Füssen. Parking below the castle costs €4. Buy tickets at the ticket centre in Hohenschwangau village, below the castle. From there, it’s a steep 30-minute walk up the mountain to the entrance. Alternatively, take a horse-drawn carriage (up €5, down €2.50) or the bus to the Marienbrücke bridge (€2.60 return), which is a ten-minute walk from the entrance.