Towering Castles and Mountains in Fussen Germany
The vast majority of my EuroTrip so Far has been centered on visiting many of the metropolitan centers of Europe and visiting the sites the many sites they have to see. It’s gotten a little repetitive seeing one city after another. Now don’t get me wrong, I think cities are great. All the hustle and bustle of the city there is always so much to do regardless of time of day and day of the week. But I also crave the experiences provided by vast expanses of nature, mountains to climb lakes or rivers to swim, and shady forests to wonder through. So it was with a breath of fresh air that I was excited to visit the small very rural town of Fussen Germany. I took the train there much the same way I have been traveling throughout this trip. However there was one distinct difference in this train ride as compared to my past train rides. In the past, traveling from one major city to the next it hasn’t felt quite like we are truly traveling through the countryside. Sure you see farm lands and small towns but so far the scenery along the train rides I have felt to be fairly unremarkable. That is until I rode the train to Fussen Germany. Along the final stretch of our journey there were wide open fields of grass along rolling hills with the Alps towering in the background. The country side was dotted with small red roofed farm houses and tiny rural villages. Now this was what I pictured much of the country side of Europe being like. In past train rides I’ve spent my time reading g or napping. As soon as I saw this countryside, I was enraptured, finding myself staring out the window for the remainder of the ride.
The rolling green grassy hillsides and towering mountains in the background were a refreshing change of pace to the city life I’ve been living over this past month. I immediately pictured myself buying a small house out here, the lack of easy access to the area be damned. After finding my hostel for the night, the receptionist (who I later discovered was also the owner) was very helpful in assisting my plan out a great day for tomorrow.
Rising early the next morning I caught a bus which would take me to the area in which there are two castles – Neuschwanstein and Hohenshwangau, two beautiful castles built right up against the Alps in what is without a doubt one of the most picturesque scenes I have seen in my lifetime. Neuschwanstein castle was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The architecture is nothing short of stunning helping to explain why it took so long to build. In fact, King Ludwig II spent nearly twice what he anticipated the construction to cost in order to make his dream a reality. He had to borrow a significant sum (14 million Marks) in order to do so. And was in fact arrested later on for failing to pay his loans. Can you imagine how much those 14 million marks would be in today’s currency? Also, I want to meet the police officer who was willing to arrest their own king! That must have taken some courage.
The castle remarkably survived both World War I and World War II largely due to its remote location. However, it was where much of the Nazi loot was stashed in 1944 causing both the allies to consider bombing it, and the Nazi party to consider blowing it up as the war drew to an end, to prevent the Allies from getting their hands on it. Luckily though, the castle and its contents survived unscathed. The castle is also well known (how I heard of it) because it was used as the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland. I could absolutely picture a Disney princes living in this castle! You are allowed to tour the grounds of the castle and take a guided tour throughout the inside of the castle. It’s free to walk around the outside of the castle but you must pay to enter each castle. They charge you 12 Euros to enter each castle and small discounts are given for buying entry to both castles and / or entry to the museum for the area. I was rather Museum’d out by this point so I just payed to go in both castles.
Inside each castle is an array of artworks depicting different famous characters and heroes of the time as well as religious scenes. Unfortunately they were very strict about not allowing any photography inside each castle due to copy write reasons, so I only have pictures of the outside of each castle.
After visiting Neuschwanstein, I made my way over to Hohenshwangau castle which was a short 30 minute walk away. Also known as “Schloss Hohenschwangau” which literally means the High Swan Palace, was the residence of King Ludwig II when he was a child. It was built by his father King Maximilian II. Can you imagine growing up in one castle and then deciding it’s not good enough, so you’re going to just build an even better one? Insane! This castle was built on top of the ruins of an old fortress called Shwanstein which is believed to have built on the 12 century!
There is much more to do in this immediate area that I did this day, but I’ll get more into that in my next post in a couple days. I’ll lay out my entire itinerary for the 24 hours in Fussen, Germany.