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Neuschwanstein Castle, situated on a hill above the village of Hohenschwangau in southwest Bavaria, Germany, is a nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace. Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned the castle as an homage to German composer and theater director Richard Wagner, with its original purpose to be a personal refuge for the king. After the king’s death in 1886, the palace was open to the public, and has since then been visited by more than 61 million people.
The design of Neuschwanstein is inspired by both the architectural style known as castle romanticism and Ludwig II’s love of Richard Wagner’s operas, especially Lohengrin and Tannhäuser. Ludwig II found profound inspiration in the medieval castles Wartburg and Château de Pierrefonds, and commissioned stage designer Christian Jank to design the palace. The king requested that he personally approve every single draft of the building plan, and the design went from simple and modest to extensive and colossal – all at the king’s behest.
The inspiration from Richard Wagner’s operas is evident not only externally, but internally in decoration throughout the palace. Several rooms contain borders that portray Wagner’s operas, and a theater in the castle features a permanent set from one of his operas. However, the majority of the palace’s rooms stand to this day undecorated, and only a total of fourteen rooms were completed by the time of the king’s death. Still, the entirety of the palace and its colossal size remain grand and ornate. The king’s bed, for example, took fourteen carvers four years to build, and its canopy features many pinnacles and oaken panelings.
Besides the beauty of the castle itself, its optimal location at the top of the hill offers vast picturesque panoramic views of Hohenschwangau.