Bavarian Alps Region
Only a short drive from Munich you will find some of Germany´s most breathtaking views. Not only driving on the winding roads through the mountain area is an experience itself. The region also offers one of the most famous sights that can be found in southern Germany: Neuschwanstein Castle. Located close to a town called Fuessen, this romantic castle, with its elegant towers, marks the landscape unmistakably.
Originally built in the 19th century, this palace was commissioned by Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, who used the castle as a personal refuge, as he was known to be a very reclusive king. The building itself was drafted by designer Christian Jank and realized by architect Eduard Riedel. In fact, the king himself insisted on a detailed plan and even personal approval of all drafts. His control went so far that, in the end, the castle has been regarded as his own creation rather than what the architects had planned.
Neuschwanstein castle can be seen as a typical building for 19th century architecture. Romanesque, Gothic and Byzantine sections and the style of the throne hall, for example, mingle in an eclectic fashion and were completed with 19th century technical achievements.
Unfortunately the palace’s interior had never been completed, otherwise it would now have more than 200 rooms. Only about 15 rooms had been finished. Some of them are the administrative and servants´ rooms in the lower stories that even today accommodate the palace´s administration office. Also finished were the king´s staterooms that are situated in the upper stories. The upper floors of the west-facing wing of the building are almost completely filled with the throne hall. The hall itself is surrounded by colorful arcades ending in an apse which was supposed to hold Ludwig´s throne. The largest room of the castle is the hall of the singers, which is located on the eastern part of the complex. This hall was never designed for any of the reclusive king’s court festivities, but served as a walk-able monument in which the culture of knights of the Middle Ages was presented. The floor mosaic was only completed after the king´s death. Apart from the large ceremonial rooms several smaller rooms were created for use by Ludwig II. The royal lodging was on the third floor in the east wing of the Palace. It consisted of eight rooms with living space and several smaller rooms.
The construction costs of Neuschwanstein castle amounted 6.2 million marks and had been almost twice the initial cost estimate. As his private means were insufficient for his increasingly escalating construction projects, the king continuously took out new loans. By 1883 he already owed 7 million marks and in the spring of 1884 and August 1885 debt conversions of 7½ million marks and 6½ million marks, respectively, became necessary. At the time of Ludwig's death in 1886 the palace was far from complete.
Only six weeks after the king died, regent Luitpold ordered the palace opened to paying visitors. The administrators of Ludwig's estate managed to balance the construction debts by 1899. From then until World War I started in 1914, Neuschwanstein was a stable and lucrative source of revenue for the Wittelsbach dynasty.
Alps´ outdoor activities
The region is a paradise for outdoor activities and offers everything from leisurely walks and Alpine hikes to stunning ski areas. Although it seems that time stands still in many of the small villages around that area, the tourism industry keeps growing. Nearly every place has a tourist office with a variety of activities to do. Public transport is also provided and accommodation suits every budget.
A famous region is Garmisch-Partenkirchen. From here a very popular hiking trail, the Partnachklamm, can be easily accessed. Also highly recommended is a visit to the Zugspitze. Views from Germany´s “rooftop” are amazing and, with good weather conditions, extend into four different countries. A “must do” when visiting the Zugspitze is a ride on the pulse-quickening cogwheel train. Make sure to get to the top of the mountain by using the “Gletscherbahn” cable car and be rewarded by a breathtaking panorama view. Whatever you decide to do around the Bavarian Alps, always make sure to bring your camera and do not miss out on capturing some of the memorable Bavarian scenery.
Neuschwanstein picture by storem @ flickr; Garmisch picture by Bofax @ flickr, Zugspitze picture by Eric Hoefler @ flickr