The Tale of The Moon King

Mad King or simply a Genius?

23 DECEMBER 2014,
Neuschwanstein Castle © Luis Miguel Justino
Neuschwanstein Castle © Luis Miguel Justino

Most of us grew up watching Disney’s cartoons, but how many of us really know where Walt Disney found inspiration for his Castle which first appears in "The Sleeping Beauty"? The correct answer would be Neuschwanstein Castle. For this enchanting fairy tale Castle we should give credits to Ludwig II or the so-called “Mad King”.

Unlike his ancestors, Ludwig did not invest in military or participate in any battles, but he built some of the most beautiful Castles in the world. Ludwig was the only King who managed to spend a family patrimony gained over eight centuries in a very short time and all for building Castles. Irrational building led to his bankruptcy which was the main reason why the King was declared insane and unfit to rule.

He lived in his special world of myths, legends and fairy tails. In his fantasy world he had a place only for himself and his idols. The Dreamer King was fascinated by art in general, opera and composers among one of them the most influential was Richard Wagner. In Ludwig’s Castles, you can see vast murals with scenes from Wagner’s world famous opera Tristan and Isolde. Ludwig was Wagner’s patron and many rooms of his Castles were inspired by Wagner’s work. Another mad King’s idol was the French King-Louis XIV. His Castles were partly dedicated to both Louis and Wagner. Ludwig was so obsessed with those two that in his Castles you can’t find none of his pictures, it was all about Wagner and Louis XIV. Although he was very good looking and unusually tall, Ludwig never showed any interest in women, so people became suspicious of the King’s sexual orientation. Indeed, he has never engaged in a relationship with a woman, but there was no concrete proof for his inclination towards men either. Ludwig was a catholic and such a thing would be against his faith. The King never married, but was supposed to marry Sisi’s sister, unfortunately that wedding never happened.

His Castles served as a shelter to him, an escape from reality. The building design was drafted by the stage designer Christian Jank and realized by the architect Eduard Riedel. In the midst of the German Alps, the grand towers of Neuschwanstein Castle rise, in all their majestic splendour. The Castle of Neuschwanstein was built in 19th century in Romanesque style. The castle is located not far away from Munich and it stands out from the rest of the scenery because it was built on the cliff. Inside the castle you can see the splendid Singer’s Hall and the vast Throne room with its gigantic chandelier weighing 2 tons and its intricate mosaics. The extravagant King hired as many as 14 carpenters just for the decoration of his bedroom. It took more than four years to complete just that one bedroom. Despite the castle's medieval appearance, it was equipped with all the modern technology of its time. The rooms in the royal residence were fitted with hot air central heating, toilets were equipped with an automatic flushing system and some floors even had telephones!

If you have decided to visit this tremendous palace, I suggest you to go to the Mary’s bridge where you can enjoy the most spectacular scenery overlooking the Castle.

Unfortunately, the King did not live long enough to finish some of his Castles. He died young and under strange circumstances. He was found in Lake Stanberg, along with his drowned physician. A suicide or murder? Even nowadays, his death remains a mystery. Some assume it was a conspiracy against the King, minority actually believed in an accidental death.

He may not have been a perfect King, nor a great warrior, but one is certain, he was different. Today, the legendary King Ludwig II is “guilty” for over 50 million visits to his Castles. So far, he definitely paid off all of his debts. It seems to me that building his Castles was a shrewd investment after all.

"I want to remain an eternal mystery to myself and others" he said once, so it was.