So much has been written about Schloss Neuschwanstein in Hohenschwangau, but little has been mentioned about the technologies used in the castle’s construction. While it was deemed as a reflection of the deeply depressed state of mind of Bavaria’s King Ludwig II, it was the fulfillment of the monarch’s own pent up interest in architecture.
Largely influenced by his fascination with King Louis XIV of France, the ruler of the diminished kingdom of Bavaria built a medieval castle where he could live the life of a traditional powerful monarch. Although King Ludwig II had commissioned the building of other castles before, the Neuschwanstein Castle was different. Its construction was meant to be a monumental tribute for his other obsession, German composer Richard Wagner and his operas,
King Ludwig II Incorporated Designs Based on His Visualizations of a Modern-Day Medieval Castle
The Bavarian monarch was very much involved in the design and construction of the castle. He was completely amazed that new building technologies allowed him to push the boundaries in incorporating all architectural and interior designs he imagined. The castle’s foundation was purely of concrete while the brick walls were completely glossed over with limestone. It was designed to stand high and majestic amidst the Bavarian Alps and above the village of Hohenschwangau where Ludwig’s home castle is located,
The decorations were mostly in the same grandiose fashion as those of King Louis XIV’s palace, where gold carvings, ornate mirrors and stately bedchambers were vital aspects of a room’s decorative feature. Except for the room that served as showcase of the themes and characters of the Wagnerian operas that King Ludwig II enjoyed imagining himself to be during his periods of isolation. The name Neuschwanstein, means New Swan Stone and was used to commemorate the first stone laid in its construction. Ludwig’s favorite operas, “The Swan Knight.”
The castle’s tribute to this opera is evidenced by a man-made cave that comes complete with an artificial waterfall, theatrical stage lights and a wave-producing machine.
King Ludwig II himself who sought escape from the political intrigues he had to deal with, spent hours being rowed in a gondola, while singing and imagining himself to be the Swan Knight of Wagner’s opera.
Although his court architect Eduard Riedel drew up a 3-storey plan for a Gothic style castle, the Bavanrian king had it modified into a 5-storey edifice built with Romanesque architecture. To help him put his visualization into a more vivid plan, King Ludwig II hired a theatrical stage designer and scenic painter named Christian Jank to transpose the architectural illustrations into graphic works of art.
However, the political forces who disapproved of King Ludwig’s extravagant spending, eventually took action before the castle’s coffers bled out to drive Bavaria into complete bankruptcy.
As King Ludwig II had already spent thirty-one million marks building three great castles, of which Neuschwanstein was the most cost intensive, a coalition of court ministers took drastic actions r to strip King Ludwig of his remaining powers as King of Bavaria.
A team of psychiatrists gave their expert opinion about King Ludwig II’s eccentricities and obsessions, along with his emotional behaviors and reclusive nature as a mental state not suitable for a ruler. He was officially declared as insane and was arrested for his alleged violations in the discharge of his duties as king of Bavaria. As the turn events have it, the psychiatrist and King Ludwig II was later found lifeless nearby lake hours after his arrest.
While much of the money Ludwig spent to build his castles were recovered quickly through their transformation as museums, Schloss Neuschwanstein continue to bring the state of Bavaria huge amounts of revenues. As it is, the castle that many touted as the embodiment of a mad man’s imagination receives more than a million visitors every year.