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Neuschwanstein Castle - Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle Marienbrucke, NeuschwansteinNeuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein is probably Germany's most iconic castle – and the inspiration for Disney's fairytale castle.  Built by the 'Mad King' Ludwig of Bavaria as his personal home, the castle was never fully completed.  Ludwig's ambition was so intricate and complex that he near bankrupted the country – he drowned under mysterious circumstances and the palace was opened to the public within weeks of his death to try and recoup some of the costs.

Neuschwanstein Castle is set on a steep promentory of rock and overlooks Ludwig's childhood home at Hohenschwangau.  The best view of the palace's spires are from the bridge at Marienbrucke, a steep climb above the castle.  The bridge crosses a gorge, complete with a tumbling waterfall – a perfect backdrop for the castle.

As the castle was unfinished, there aren't many rooms open to the public – only 15 of the planned 200 rooms were completed.  Those that do showcase Ludwig's obsession with both swans and Wagnerian operas.  The great hall is decorated with scenes from Arthurian legends and has figureheads carved into the butresses.  The bedroom is simply amazing – the individual spires on the bed canopy reportably took five master wood carvers over two years to carve.

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