Saturday, September 11, 2010

Neuschwanstein Castle

On Monday Casey had the day off, so he stayed home with Peyton and Brittney, Ellie, and I took a trip down to Neuschwanstein Castle. It was an all-day event since it took about 3 1/2 hours to drive there. It was a rainy and cold day, but the area around Neuschwanstein was still beautiful. The neighboring town was a ski town with steep, dramatic mountains and amazing lakes. It took us an hour after our arrival to actually get on a bus that took us up to the castle that sits on the mountain side, but it was amazing and worth the wait.

Neuschwanstein castle is famous for being the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle. Because of this, Ellie refers to it as Aurora's House. :) It was built for King Ludwig II of Bavaria who was a bit eccentric. He loved the operas composed by the German composer Wagner, and each room in the castle was decorated to represent one of the operas. The detail in the decoration is unbelievable. The detailed wood carvings, paintings, and furnishings must have taken countless man hours to complete. In Ludwig's bedroom, for example, his bed has detailed wood carvings of multiple Bavarian churches, the walls are painted with scenes from "Tristin and Isolde", his faucet is a sculpture of a swan with running water from a natural spring utilizing gravity for natural water pressure, and his toilet is designed as a throne! (I guess that's why we call the toilet the throne...) Between the study and the singing hall, Ludwig had an artificial cave built so he could reenact the grotto scene from another of Wagner's operas.

Interestingly, Ludwig only lived in his castle for a short time before his death. It was rumored that Ludwig was crazy, so men showed up at the castle with a psychiatrist to take him away to another castle for care and treatment. The day after he was taken away from Neuschwanstein, he and his psychiatrist were found dead in a lake. No one knows for sure whether it was suicide, an accident, or murder, but Brittney and I are convinced it was murder. Other Bavarian leaders who were tired of him spending so much money on the construction of the castle would have wanted his reign to be over. It wouldn't have taken a lot to convince people of Ludwig's insanity, considering his obsession with the building of his castle. Our guess is they convinced everyone Ludwig was nuts, then had him killed.

Because of his early death, Neuschwanstein castle was never completed. Despite that, the castle and the surrounding mountains are beautiful. We had a great visit.

Ellie was a trooper through our trip, and although she got a little tired from the hiking to and from the castle and the shuttle bus, she hung in there. She was great in the car. In fact, she kept Brittney and me entertained part of the time with her singing. We were all singing along to Disney songs (partly because we were trying to keep her awake until we got home and could get her to be at the correct hour). All of a sudden, at the climax of one of the songs, Ellie belted out in the loudest singing voice I've ever heard from her! She even hit the right notes in her belt voice! It was so unexpected and so hilarious that Britt and I were dying laughing! Ellie got a big kick out of her joke too, and we all laughed together. It was a fun day.

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