The Hohenschwangau Castle is one of the most famous sights in Germany. More than 300,000 tourists from all over the world flock here every year, and it is unlikely that anyone would forget to take a look at this unique building, a true architectural masterpiece not only of its time, but of our time as well.
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Video: Hohenschwangau Castle
Hohenschwangau Castle, whose name literally translates to “High Swan Paradise,” is located in the south of the largest federal state, Bavaria, nestled on the picturesque slopes of the Alps near the village and commune of Schwangau of the same name. The clear waters of the lakes of the Alpsee and Schwangau are a sight to behold! From here, the border with neighboring Austria lies just south.
The sunny color of the castle walls harmoniously combines with the emerald colors of the surrounding Hohenschwangau forest. In the evening, when the lights come on, the spectacle is even more mesmerizing. Looking at this castle, as if descended from the pages of Grimm fairy tales, it seems that it grew up in the middle of the mountains and forest as if by magic, and you can not even believe that this is the work of human hands.
The “fairy castle” was the name given to his brainchild by Maximilian II of Bavaria, where his son, the future “fairy tale king” Ludwig II, spent his childhood. His Majesty ordered the building of Hohenschwangau Castle in the historic site, where many centuries ago took place the knights’ battles and tournaments. Next door, by the way, is another architectural masterpiece – Neuschwanstein Castle, built by Ludwig himself. The convenient mutual location allows tourists to visit one attraction first and immediately go to the other.
Historically known as the romantic residence of the Wittelsbach dynasty, Schwanstein castle was built on the site of Schwanstein castle. The majestic building belonged to the noble family of Schwangau since the XII century. Brave knights and famous troubadours were its representatives. The last royal descendant of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, Prince Conradin, was persecuted by Pope Clement IV and sought refuge here.
Schloss Hohenschwangau in winter Castle Hohenschwangau, drawing by Frederick Hansen Södring, 1843
At the beginning of the 16th century, the glorious Schwangau family was interrupted. In 1535 the fortress was purchased by the imperial advisor Johan von Paumgartner. In 1547 he rebuilt the fortress and named it Hohenschwangau or Hohenschwangau. By the end of the XVIII century, the structure had fallen into disrepair. And during the war with Napoleon the ancient fortress, unfortunately, was finally destroyed.
The second life of the castle was given by the already mentioned Maximilian II. In 1829, while traveling through his lands, the then crown prince admired the beauty of this place. His Highness bought the ruins of the castle for 7 thousand guilders. In 1832, under the direction of the famous German Romanticist painter-architect, theater artist and engraver Domenico Quaglio, construction of a new castle began. Quaglio was also a court painter. He once taught Maximilian II art when he was a child.
The royal family used to come to Hohenschwangau for recreation. The surrounding woods were rich in game and the monarch himself loved to hunt. His sons loved the castle’s medieval decorations. The king’s wife Mary of Bavaria admired the wonderful surroundings. When her eldest son Ludwig II became king, the famous Richard Wagner often visited the castle. The king was a devoted admirer of the composer. Ludwig II presented the genius musician with a replica of the castle. Inspired by the legend of the Swan Knight, Wagner wrote his opera Lohengrin.
Later, standing on the castle’s balcony, the king personally supervised the construction of a second masterpiece – the nearby fairy-tale structure Neuschwanstein, recognized as the most beautiful in Germany. During his lifetime, the eccentric Bavarian ruler was accused of overspending on such construction projects. And no one, of course, would have guessed at the time that Ludwig II, unknowingly, was investing in the future. Today, the influx of tourists to these architectural masterpieces continues unabated. These sights bring enormous revenues to Bavaria’s budget.
Since 1913 the Hohenschwangau Castle has been open to tourists. Time has been lenient to these nearby works of architecture. They were not damaged by the wars and have been preserved in perfect condition.
Hohenschwangau Castle and surroundings
The architectural style of Hohenschwangau Castle is neo-Gothic, typical of the Romantic period. The peaked and defensive turrets and carved stone wall add to the medieval spirit of the building. It is amazing how Domenico Cuglio was able to fit the building so harmoniously into the surrounding landscape. The bright yellow delighted even the generally reserved King Ludwig II. But Domenico Quaglio died before he had time to complete the interior decoration.
The towers of Hohenschwangau
In the courtyard of the castle Hohenschwangau, the facades are elaborately decorated with bas-reliefs depicting the ancient coat of arms of the Schwangau family. The interior is dominated by shades of lilac and purple, with lots of gilding. In the inner rooms, despite the small size, reigns beauty and sophistication. There are a large number of mirrors, darkened from time. Valuable oak and rosewood are used in the decoration. In the castle, fourteen rooms, on the reconstruction of which besides Kvalho also worked another famous artist and graphic artist – Moritz von Schwind.
Other court artists of the time also decorated the interior of the building. In the drawing room of Maria Bavarian there are portraits of Martin Luther, knights and ordinary people. Maximilian II’s son and successor loved to stay here with his mother. The bedroom of Queen Dowager Maria of Bavaria, who lived here for almost three years until her death in 1889, is in oriental style thanks to a visit by the king to the Ottoman Empire in 1833. From his trip, His Majesty brought back Turkish canapés, which were presented to him by Sultan Mahmud II himself.
Ballroom Living room Castle kitchen Part of the kitchen Swan figurine
In the bay window of the Hohenschwangau, protruding beyond the façade, is the house chapel. Not everyone knows that Ludwig II decorated it himself. Russian Emperor Alexander II once gave the “fairy tale king” two Orthodox icons, which later decorated the chapel.
In the hall of the swan knight
The Swan Knight Hall formerly served as a dining room, and impresses visitors with masterpieces of its wall paintings on the theme of the saga of the knight Lohengrin. Many other rooms are also decorated with paintings depicting scenes from the lives of medieval knights. A number of characters are heroes of ancient legends and sagas: Rinaldo, Armida, Lohengrin and others.
The banquet hall is considered to be the most beautiful in the castle. Here there is a table, painted according to the “Saga of the Nibelungs”. In the Hohenstaufen Room, named after the dynasty of Southern German kings and Holy Roman Emperors with close ties to the Wittelsbachs, stands the piano on which Wagner composed for King Ludwig II.
Hohenschwangau Castle courtyard Swan Fountain
Opening hours, how to get there
Hohenschwangau Castle is located near the city of Füssen. From Munich to Füssen it takes a couple of hours by train. From the train station, you can take a bus to Hohenschwangau Castle as well as to Neuschwanstein. The way to the stop Hohenschwangau takes 8 minutes. Here are the ticket offices, where you have to buy tickets. The cost of visiting one castle – 12 euros. Two – 23 euros. For children under 18 years old admission is free.
Figures of swan knights above the entrance to the castle
The castles are open to visitors from 9 am to 6 pm from April to September. From October to March they are open until 3:30 p.m. At Christmas and New Year’s they are closed to visitors. The ticket office is open from 8 a.m., but tickets can run out by lunchtime. The lines are very long. Tourists who have booked tickets in advance go through without a queue.
Hohenschwangau, as noted at the beginning, is on a hill, so it takes 15 minutes to climb, but the road is easy. You can get there by bus (does not work in winter) or by horse-drawn carriage.
Visiting is organized, in groups of 30 people. Tours of the castle Hohenschwangau are in German and English. You can use a free audio guide, there is also in Russian. The tour lasts about 35-40 minutes. Next to the castle, in the annex, is a souvenir store. There is a large selection of handmade items. You can also eat in cafes and restaurants.
Where is one of the oldest castles Hohenschwangau
Hohenschwangau is a castle located on a mountain in the middle of forests and lakes. The history of knights’ tournaments and the tales of the noble kings are reflected in the decoration of the halls.
Among the wooded mountains, surrounded by four lakes, around 120 kilometers from Munich lies the romantic castle Hohenschwangau. It can be easily recognised by the white swan on the roof, which symbolises the castle’s nobility.
History of the castle
XII century. The first time Hohenschwangau is mentioned by the name “Swan Stone”. Until the 16th century it was the possession of the knights of the Schwangau dynasty. During the various wars the structure was repeatedly destroyed, its owners changed several times.
Interesting. The knightly poet-musician Heitpold von Schwangau was known as a talented representative of minnesang, i.e. the art of singing about love.
In 1832, King Maximilian II, the future father of Louis II, purchased the manor, ordering it to be rebuilt according to the original plans of the Neo-Gothic style.
The Bavarian royal family used it as a summer or hunting residence. King Ludwig II spent his youth here, it served as his permanent summer residence until his death in 1886.
Interesting. A replica of the Goose Shepherd Fountain has been installed on the inner grounds. The original is in Nuremberg next to the town hall. The Nuremberg fountain is considered the most famous German Renaissance bronze sculpture.
Since 1928 the castle ensemble has been owned by the Wittelsbach Foundation, an ancient feudal family.
What lies inside the castle
The romantic building has survived as it was originally constructed. The original furnishings match the Biedermeier style. The style, characterized by simplicity, lack of sophisticated decorative abundance, was popular among the European elite of the early and mid-19th century. Experts consider it a kind of romanticism, a realization of burghers’ ideas about the inviolability of the family home. You can hear the term – “the manner of the simple-minded Herr Meyer”.
Hall of Knightly Glory
The decorations in the Hohenschwangau were inspired by the stories of Bavaria, legends of royal and chivalrous honor, the ancient legends of the “Song of the Nibelungs” and the victories of the Vikings and Emperors. Children’s images and games surrounding Ludwig II are reflected in the development of his personality and the decoration of the Knight’s Hall.
The Great Festival Hall
The Celebration Hall of the palace, also called the Room of Heroes, is the largest room of the Royal Floor. The wall paintings on the conceived plans of Moritz von Schwind, telling the story of the Welkin, are by Dietrich Byrne.
The Oriental style room was used by the royalty Maria Frederica of Prussia, mother of King Ludwig II. Maximilian the Second, recalling a trip to Turkey and Greece, once had a bedroom built and decorated in the Oriental style using gifts from the Turkish Sultan.
This room played the role of dressing room for the Bavarian kings: his father Maximilian the Second, his son Ludwig the Second. King Ludwig also used it for salon music performances. Here stands the grand piano on which the great composer Richard Wagner played his works during his visit.
Tasso Hall (Tassocimmer)
This room was a royal bedroom, decorated with murals based on the plot of the classic poem “Liberated Jerusalem”. The author of the poem was Torquato Tasso, one of the greatest poets of sixteenth-century Italy. Here Ludwig II ordered a distinctive feature to be installed. A starry sky was integrated into the ceiling plane.
Bertrada’s room (Bershtatsimmer).
The Bershtatsimmer was used by the royal mother Mary as a study. Surrounded by intricate ornaments, the paintings tell the Bavarian version of the legend of Charlemagne’s birth, his mother Bertrada, his father Pepin the Third Short, the first king of the Carolingian dynasty.
The Blue Stage
“The Blue Stage” is a small stage art that is organized most often in the Alpsee Café. When the weather is good, the stage for the performers is the terrace of the Alpenros am See restaurant, directly on the shore of the lake. Meetings are held twice a month, on Thursday evenings (19.30) with cabaret, music, exhibitions and literary readings.
Various travel options.
- Freeway No. A7.
- direction: Ulm-Kempten-Füssen.
- Departure: Füssen.
- Distance to freeway ~7 kilometers.
A7 Ulm-Kempten-Füssen; end of the Füssen freeway towards Schwangau / Royal Castles take the B16. From Füssen take the B17 towards Schwangau and then right King’s Castles.
- Nearest train station: Füssen.
- Distance from the train station ~5 kilometers.
- Travel time by cab: about 8 minutes.
By bus from the railway station in Füssen:
- Bus lines:
- RVA/ OVG 73 – direction: Steingarden / Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
- RVA/ OVG 78 – direction: Schwangau.
- Stop: Hohenschwangau – Alpsee.
- Public transport: 15 minutes.
You can get to the ticket office center by horse-drawn carriage or on foot.
Horse-drawn carriages depart from two stations:
- A station located in the valley in front of the ticket office center;
- The mountain station, located at the foot of the mountain.
- Mountain trip – 4,50 EUR.
- Valley trip: 2,00 EUR.
Fees can be paid on the spot, directly inside the carriage.
The duration of the trip is about 10 minutes.
IMPORTANT: at the beginning of winter the horse-drawn carriage stops. Beginning in April, the horse-drawn carriage operates without restrictions. This transportation enterprise is independent. Departures do not occur according to a strict schedule, but depend on need. No reservations are provided.
There are marked routes for travel on foot. The travel time up the mountain from the ticket center is about 20 minutes.
Where is the parking lot
It is forbidden to drive to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles. Parking near the ticket offices is not possible. Nearby public parking lots, numbered P1, P2, P3 and P4, are arranged:
- P1 – parking near the hotel for motorists
- P2, P3 – near the coffee house Kainz
- P4 – parking lot of the Alpsee.
The prohibition of parking is valid from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Parking fee (per day):
- Passenger cars – 6,00 EUR.
- Bus – 15,00 EUR
- Motorhome – 8,50 EUR
- Motorcycles – 2,00 EUR
Excursions and ticket prices
You can buy a ticket to one of the royal castles only in the center on the day of the visit. Ticket office center is open:
- Winter period (January 1, 2017 to March 31, 2017 + October 16, 2017 to December 31, 2017): daily 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.
- Summer period (April 1, 2017 to October 15, 2017): daily 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Unlike Neuschwanstein Castle and the Museum of the Bavarian Kings – Hohenschwangau has non-working days: December 24, January 1.
Cost of admission ticket:
|Category of visitors||Price|
|Children under 18||free|
|School groups (price per person) Groups of 15 and up (price per person) Senior citizens over 65 years old Disabled people Students||12 EUR|
It is possible to pay for a combined ticket:
|“Royal”||2 castles||25 EUR|
|“Wittelbach”||Hohenschwangau + Museum of Bavarian Kings||22 EUR|
|“Swan”||2 castles and museum||31,50 EUR|
The ticketing center posts the closest possible admission time on large screens. Various ticket offices are available to visitors: