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Top 10 Facts about the Hohenschwangau Castle


 

The German state of Bavaria is well-known for its fairytale castles and enchanting palaces. The monarchs of the land did not leave anything to chance it down when it came to the architecture and beauty of their castles.

These castles have splendid frescoes, fine furniture and unique ornaments. They were truly befitting for kings of the land. The beauty of it all is that these castles have been well preserved to date.

One of the enchanting castles in the Hohenschwangau Castle. It is built in the most idyllic places. The castle sits on top of a hill surrounded by the Alps and the Hohenschwangau Village.

This castle has for many years been outshined by the nearby Neuschwanstein Castle. However, that has not stopped architecture lovers and tourists from visiting this castle.

The Hohenschwangau Castle was home to King Maximilian of Bavaria in the 19th century. Here are the top 10 facts about this beautiful castle.

1. The castle was owned by Knights of Schwangau for 4 centuries

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The first mention of this castle in the 12th century. The first occupants were the knights of Schwangau who lived there for about 400 years.

Unfortunately, the castle was damaged in wars and ended up decaying. It was described as useless for defence purposes.

The castle was known as the fortress of Schwanstein but was changed in the 19th century when the names of the two castles were switched.

This castle was built on a hill above lake Alpsee, just below the older fortress. The Lords of the castle sold the land, bought it again and sold it again in 1535.

Architect Lucio di Spazzi reconstructed the lower castle that belonged to Johann Paumgartner, a wealthy merchant.

He did not tamper with the exterior walls and the towers but rebuilt the inner parts until 1547. However, the walls fell to ruins.

2. From ruins to a castle

The ruined castle was once home to the Schwangau Knights and was known as the Fortress Schwanstein. The last of the surviving Knights passed away in the 16th century.

For a short period, it was the residence of Counsellor Johann von Paumgartner Zu Paumgarten. He is the one that renamed it to Hohenschwangau palace.

After he vacated the castle was neglected. The situation worsened during the Napoleonic Wars when the castle was ruined. Interestingly, the ruins caught the eye of the Prince.

The crown prince, Maximilian, initiated the reconstruction of the Hohenschwangau Castle in 1832.  He intended to build a romantic palace with Gothic characteristics.

Several great artists were commissioned for the project. One of them was Domenico Quaglio who designed the plan and most of the decorations on the walls.

3. The writings on the walls tell a story

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The interior walls and ceilings of the castle that were designed by Domenico Quaglio, an Italian, depict scenes from German folklore and medieval legends.

One of the paintings that stand out is the swan. It was a heraldic animal of the Schwangau Knights. King Maximilian loved it and had it incorporated in almost every ornamentation of the castle.

The Swan painting is also on the beautiful silver chandelier. The room is filled with adorned with remarkable scenes of the swan. It is known as the Hall of the Swan Knight.

4. Architect Domenico Quaglio was commissioned by King Maximilian to build the castle

King Maximillian worked on the castle with the help of his architect, Domenico Quaglio from Italy to revamp the ruined castle to its present glory.

Domenico Quaglio was responsible for the neogothic style of the exterior design of the castle. He died in 1837 and Joseph Daniel Ohlmuller took over the assignment. After Joseph’s death, Georg Friedrich Ziebland was the next architect to continue the work.

The construction of the castle took about 10 years. King Ludwig I, Maximilian’s father, visited the residence for the first time after it was completed. He described it as a fairy castle.

5. The castle was used by the king as a summer and hunting residence

Hohenschwangau Palace was the official summer and hunting residence of Maximilian, his wife Marie of Prussia, and their two sons Ludwig II and Otto I of Bavaria.

Ludwig II and his brother Otto I spent many years of their youth in this palace. Their mother, Queen Marie who loved to hike in the mountains.

She created an alpine garden where she planted plants from all over the alps. Both the King and the Queen lived in the main building, while their sons lived in the annexe.

In 1864 King Maximilian passed away, and Ludwig II moved into the main castle. He lived there as he supervised the construction of his new residence from the castle, the Linderhof Palace.

6. Only guided tours are allowed at Hohenschwangau castle

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This castle has been open to the public since 1912.  It remains to be one of the most beautiful castles in the world. One thing about this castle is that you need a tour guide.

The guided tour is operated by castle staff. You can get the tickets from the ticket centre in Hohenschwangau or from their website.

These tours take about 30 minutes and are conducted in many languages. Unfortunately, taking photos of the castle interior is strictly prohibited.

7. It was not damaged during WW I and WW II

Many castles were damaged during the two wars. Interestingly, this castle did not get damaged during World War I and World War II. It remained in its pristine condition.

About 300,000 visitors tour the castle each year.

In 1923, the Bavarian State Parliament recognised the right of the former royal family to reside in the castle. Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria and his family used the castle as their summer residence between 1933 and 1939.

It was a favourite residence for several other monarchs.

8. The details of the rooms in the castle are a must-see

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The oriental room was inspired by Maximillian’s visits to Greece and Turkey. A walk in this room will give you the feeling of being in those countries. The room was Queen Marie’s bedroom.

Another interesting room in the palace is the hall of heroes and knights. This is a large room that takes up the whole floor area of the castle.  

The room has some spectacular ceiling paintings of a forgotten German legend, Dietrich von Berne. The Gothic columns are also impressive.

9. It was not replaced by Neuschwanstein Castle

The Castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who was born in 1845 and inherited the kingdom from his father in 1864.

Another one of those fascinating facts about Hohenschwangau Castle was that it was not replaced by Neuschwanstein Castle. These two castles are considered to be twin castles.

10. It was the childhood home for Louis II

King Louis II spent most of his childhood at Hohenschwangau Castle. King Louis set out to build a New Hohenschwangau Castle in 1864.

The castle has Romanesque designs that were drawn by scene painter Christian Jank. Architect Eduard Riedel translated the design into an architectural masterpiece.