Visit Schloss Hohenschwangau in Bavaria, Germany

Visit the Neo-Gothic Schloss Hohenschwanga to see the childhood home of King Ludwig II of Bavaria which inspired the construction of the Disney-like Neuschwanstein Castle near Munich in Germany.

Visit Schloss Hohenschwangau Castle near Munich
© DmitryRukhlenko / Depositphotos

Schwangau near Füssen in Southern Germany is mostly visited to see the Disney-like, fairy-tale Schloss Neuschwanstein Castle. Less famous is the nearby Neo-Gothic Schloss Hohenschwangau where Mad King Ludwig spent happy childhood summers and probably dreamed up plans for his own more elaborate fantasy castles. Schloss Hohenschwangau was erected during the 1830s by Bavarian King Maximilian II in a Neo-Gothic style.

Schwangau and the Allgäu Became Part of Bavaria

Following the Napoleonic wars, Bavaria increased its territory and acquired amongst others the beautiful Allgäu area. In these new territories, Bavarian Crown Prince Maximilian discovered the ruins of Schloss Hohenschwangau.

Maximilian loved the natural beauty of the Allgäu region. The Alps formed a natural border with Austria and the future king enjoyed hunting here as well as the marvelous views from the mountains of the now Bavarian Lech Valley. The ruins of Hohenschwangau near the small Alpsee Lake offered a perfect location for Maximilian’s fantasy castle.

Schloss Hohenschwangau Castle near Füssen

On the ruins of the medieval Hohenschwangau, Maximilian II had a new, Neo-Gothic castle erected during the 1830s. Domenico Quaglio used his skill as both an architect and a theater designer to create a theatrical fantasy in a fully functional building. (Ludwig II’s Neuschwanstein, in contrast, remained a rather unusable fantasy castle.)

Romantic wall paintings of German sagas dominate the interior of Schloss Hohenschwangau. Schwan is German for swan and swans are often used in decorations to link the new castle to the heraldic symbols of the medieval county of Schwangau.

Several paintings are dedicated to the Swan Order. Its most illustrious knight, Lohengrin, was later to inspire one of the best-known operas by Richard Wagner, who met Mad King Ludwig II for the first time in Hohenschwangau.


King Maximilian of Bavaria at Schloss Hohenschwangau

Bavarian King Maximilian II and his wife, Princess Marie of Prussia, used Schloss Hohenschwangau mostly as a summer residence. They basically initiated the era of mass tourism for the Schwangau region. Just as day-trippers now provide work for locals, the court following the monarch provided a major economic stimulus during the nineteenth century.

Maximilian and Marie loved to entertain and frequently had receptions in the massive Knights’ Hall in Schloss Hohenschwangau. Their son, Mad King Ludwig II, in contrast, was more asocial, and the large Singers’ Hall, with impressive acoustics, in his fantasy Neuschwanstein Castle was used for concerts for the first time only sixty years after his death.

Mad King Ludwig II at Schloss Hohenschwangau

The future Bavarian King Ludwig II spent many, and by all accounts happy, childhood summers at Schloss Hohenschwangau. Ludwig’s romantic disposition was no doubt greatly influenced by the paintings he saw on the walls of Schloss Hohenschwangau. The most obvious consequence is the very popular, Disney-like fantasy castle Schloss Neuschwanstein that Ludwig erected within easy walking distance from Schloss Hohenschwangau.

Schloss Hohenschwangau is far less popular with visitors than the nearby Schloss Neuschwanstein Castles. As a result, Hohenschwangau may often be seen without advanced ticket reservations but on busy days it is €2.50 well spent to book a time slot in advance.

Both Schloss Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castle are in Schwangau near Füssen, an easy and popular day-trip destination by public transportation from Munich. Many day-trip tours are also available from Munich.

More on King Ludwig’s Castles and Palaces

The three fantasy castles of King Ludwig are all near Munich and are popular day trips whether on bus tours, driving, or using public transportation. Schloss Neuschwanstein and Schloss Linderhof are to the southwest and may be seen on the same day when driving or on tours. Schloss Herrencheimsee is to the southeast and also a good stopover en route to Salzburg.

Savings Deals in Bavaria:

Schloss Neuschwanstein and Schloss Hohenschwangau:

Schloss Linderhof:

Schloss Herrenchiemsee:

Henk Bekker in armor

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.

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