Last weekend I made a trip of a lifetime – I visited the famous Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. If you’re even slightly interested in travel and have a Pinterest account, then you’ve probably seen it before – a gorgeous castle in the midst of the Alps, built for absolutely no strategic reason by Ludwig II – the penultimate king of Bavaria, a man with a soul of a poet, the Mad King who spent all the money he had on living a fairy-tale…
Unlike the common belief, Ludwig wasn’t the originator of the fantasy castles. His father was. Long before Ludwig started developing his obsession, Maximilian II built the Hohenschwangau Castle< in a tiny village of Hohenschwangau, near Füssen, located in southwestern Bavaria. There, in that huge castle, grew Ludwig, completely alone (if you don’t count his strict tutors and his younger brother Otto) and completely abandoned by his parents, who were so formal and cold with him that they often ignored or avoided their son, not knowing what to say to him. Ludwig’s childhood was indeed a tough one – he was constantly undernourished and never got any pocket money. Supposedly, that way he should have learned how to live his life in moderation. Ironically, however, by the end of his life he became super fat and spent all the money he had on architectural projects of ridiculous grandiosity. When Ludwig became king at the young age of 18, he was extremely anti-social. He hated crowds and he hated his royal duties that included lots of public speaking and lots of waving. He also hated Munich and he tried to avoid the city at all costs, preferring to spend all of his time in Hohenschwangau. And when you look at the place, you understand why.
Undoubtedly, the Bavarian countryside has some of the most stunning views you can ever imagine. The king loved travelling there and enjoyed chitchats with the local farmers, who absolutely adored him. Even now he is still remembered in Bavaria as “Unser Kini”, which means “our cherished king” in the Bavarian dialect. However, avoiding the royal duties didn’t earn him a solid reputation in the political arena, of course – the ministers were openly unsatisfied with Ludwig’s performance as a king and were terrified to see all the money disappearing on some stupid castles.
So when the ministers finally got fed up with all of this, they rebelled against Ludwig and announced him insane. But of course, Ludwig wasn’t mad, really – he was just an eccentric. It was, however, enough for the conspirators to create an official Medical Report, where they would describe how Ludwig liked walking under the rain (ludicrous!) or eating outside when it’s chilly (absurd!) – based on these things, the government announced Ludwig unable to rule.
So on June 12, 1886, the king was captivated and sent to the Berg Castle on Lake Starnberg, located in the south of Munich. There, on June 13, Ludwig was found dead in the shallow waters of the lake. That’s it. Nobody really knows anything about his death behind the fact that it happened in a very mysterious way. Even though it was officially stated that Ludwig had drowned himself, there was no water found in his lungs during the autopsy. So how exactly it happened still remains the secret up until these days.
Ludwig loved to repeat, “I wish to remain an eternal enigma to myself and to others”, and, as he lived his whole life in the world of fantasies, where the architectural magnificence, the royal glory and the purity of the country life somehow united in one, it’s certain to say that his dream is one of the few ones that actually came true.
Do you like castles and palaces, like me? Then you might like this: