The Mad King And His Fairy Tale Castle: Neuschwanstein

By | November 17, 2019

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Neuschwanstein Castle. Source: (Photo by DEA / M.SANTINI/De Agostini via Getty Images)

In the south of Bavaria near the foothills of the Alps sits a castle that may very well have come out of the mind of Walt Disney. But it is this castle that inspired the creator of Fantasia and Sleeping Beauty. Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most photographed attractions in Germany.  Its allure is not just in its famed, fairy tale beauty, but also in the story of the man who built it, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, also called the “Mad.”

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Ludwig II after his coronation. Source: (Wikipedia)

The dashing and darkly handsome Ludwig was born on August 25, 1845, and crowned King of Bavaria in 1864 after the sudden death of his father, Maximilian II. The young monarch had entered into power at a time of great change. The Kingdom of Prussia, headed by Otto von Bismarck, was pushing to create a unified German nation. In 1866 Bavaria and Austria went to war with Prussia and lost. This resulted in Ludwig being forced to sign a treaty with Prussia which essentially handed control of the Bavarian army over to Bismarck. Bavaria had become an inferior and unwilling partner in Prussia’s drive for German unification. In 1871 Ludwig was essentially forced to elect Wilhelm I as Emperor of Germany.