Hohenschwangau

Hohenschwangau

Map
, Schwangau, 87645

After your de rigueur visit to the postcard-perfect Cinderella castle of Neuschwanstein, resplendently perched atop its mountain, take the time to tour the castle in which "Mad King" Ludwig II actually lived. Hohenschwangau is a more modest pile of battlements on a smaller nub of a hill in the valley below. What it lacks in the carefully crafted pomp and circumstance of Neuschwanstein—which Ludwig never lived to see completed—it more than makes up for in homeyness and history. It offers a unique window into the daily life of a 19th-century monarch and his quirky Romantic-era urges, among them the story of how the king rescued the composer Richard Wagner from a mountain of debt (and critical derision), gave him a small room at Hohenschwangau, and encouraged him to indulge in his most bombastic flights of operatic fantasy.

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