Don’t be surprised if you feel like you’ve landed in a fairytale when you first lay eyes on the spectacular Neuschwanstein Castle. After all, this is the very edifice that inspired Disney’s Cinderella castle. It’s one of the most visited castles in Europe, with 1.4 million visitors flocking annually to its dramatic hilltop location for a taste of its magic.
The castle’s construction began in 1868, when reclusive King Ludwig II of Bavaria, dubbed both ‘Mad King Ludwig’ and ‘the fairytale king’, sought a hideaway. Unfortunately, Ludwig did not have the chance to live happily ever after in his dream castle – though he spent some nights here in the final months of his life, he died before it was complete. Just seven weeks after his death in 1886, Neuschwanstein Castle opened to the public for their viewing pleasure.
To explore the inside of the castle, you must join a guided tour, which lasts about 30 minutes. It begins in the Lower Hall, where paintings depicting the legendary Sigurd (a hero of Norse mythology) saga adorn the walls. You’ll then head into the opulent, religiously themed Throne Room, with its 4-metre-tall chandelier; the king’s apartments, complete with a high-tech electric bell system for summoning servants; and a number of other sumptuously decorated rooms. The mysterious grotto room – fashioned out of artificial stone – makes for a surprising if seemingly out-of-place highlight. Tours end in the castle kitchen, which featured the cutting-edge technology of its time.
For those looking to indulge a fantasy and channel their inner royalty on a special daytrip from Munich, look no further than Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle is open every day except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Opening hours are 9am to 6pm from March 19 to October 15 and 10am to 4pm October 16 to March 18. Tickets cost 12 euros (approximately $18) for adults; children 18 and under are free.