Hohenschwangau Castle – A Journey to the High Swan Country (History & Travel Tips)

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Hohenschwangau Castle is a 19th-century architectural masterpiece situated in Bavaria, Germany. It’s a few hundred meters away from Neuschwanstein, another world-famous castle, and is quite popular for its heavenly views and homely atmosphere. The name of the Hohenschwangau Castle comes from a German word that translates to “High Swan Country” and the oldest record of the traces of its origins back to the 12th century. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about how this castle came to be and what condition it’s in now.

The walls of the beautiful fairytale Hohenschwangau castle depict the story of German and Bavarian history.

hohenschwangau castle from far away on a steep green hill
Schloss Hohenschwangau on the steep hill from far away.

Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Under the Schwangau Knight for 400 Years

The castle was constructed in the 12th century by the Knights of Schwangau, vassals of the Guelphs, who lived there for around 4 centuries. Unfortunately, it was destroyed during several wars that followed. In the 16th century, the last surviving knight passed away. Hence the Hohenschwangau Castle becoming an abandoned fortress.

An aerial view of the Hohenschwangau castle with its forestry green surroundings
An aerial view of the Hohenschwangau castle with its forestry surroundings. Hohenschwangau Castle flickr photo by KLMircea shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Abandoned Fortress in the 16th Century (15th Century Onwards)

The counsellor Johan von Paumgartner Zu Paumgarten bought the castle in 1535 after the knights of Schwangau were toppled. He hired the famous artist and architect Lucio di Spazii to rebuild the fortification in the years spanning from 1538-47, and was the one who christened it “Hohenschwangau.”. The counselor lived there for only a short time. Unfortunately, after 300 years the castle fell to ruins.

Era of the Napoleonic Wars (1800-1809)

Hohenschwangau castle’s condition worsened when the French army bombarded it during the Napoleonic wars (1800-1809). A local resident bought the castle in 1820 for 200 guilders in order to demolish it. But it was re-purchased by the Prince Ludwig von Oettingen-Wallerstan for 225 guilders in order to avoid the demolition. However, he sold it again when he lost his position as the head of the family.

From Ruins to a Castle

Steep high bright yellow wall of the Hohenschwangau castle from the bottom.
Steep high walls of Hohenschwangau Castle.

In 1832, Maximillian II, father of the Mad King fell in love with the location of the land and purchased the ruinous Hohenschwangau Castle. He completely remodeled it in the vein of 19th-century romantic architecture and made it the wonder that we admire today. During the revamp, it was adorned with frescoes, portraying the Holy Grail, Lohengrin, and Tannhauser in Neo-Gothic Style. Also, every room has a different theme, which enhanced and added to the castle’s beauty. 

King Maximillan II of Bavaria father of the mad king
King Maximillan II of Bavaria. Gogafax at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Hohenschwangau Castle served as the childhood home to King Ludwig II and Otto I, and as a hunting retreat for the royal family during summers. Many known artists were hired for this project, including Domini Quagilo, Joseph Daniel Ohlmuller, and Georg Friedrich Ziebland. Although the majority of work was done under the supervision of Domino Quagilo, the rest were appointed after his death. Hohenschwangau’s construction was completed in 10 years.

Hohenschwangau Castle sneak peek of its beautiful palace interior with a golden vase and wall paintings.
Hohenschwangau Castle sneak peek of its beautiful interior. Richard Mayer, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

King Maximilian died in 1864, and Ludwig II shifted into the main building. He stayed there until the completion of his new home, the Linderhof Palace. Since 1928, the Hohenschwangau Castle has been owned by the Wittlebasch Family.

Current Times

The castle has been open to visitors since 1912.  Over the years, it’s become quite a tourist attraction and more than 300,000 people visit it yearly. You have to book a tour guide in order to visit the castle, as free explorations are not allowed. Read further to find out more information on travel tips, ticket prices, and opening hours.

Beautiful architectural details of Hohenschwangau Castle facade.
Beautiful architectural details of Hohenschwangau Castle facade.

Interesting Hohenschwangau Castle Facts

  • The walls of the beautiful fairytale Hohenschwangau castle depict the story of German and Bavarian history.
  • The banquet hall, also known as “the Hall of the Heroes,” is the largest space in Hohenschwangau Castle. It is so wide that it spans the entire width of the castle. It is embellished with paintings depicting various scenes from the Wilkins Saga, as well as its hero, Dietrich von Bern.
  • Maximilian visited Turkey in 1833 and got so inspired by its architecture and culture that he adorned the Queen’s room in Turkish style.
  • The eye-catching square piano engraved in a maple tree was used by Wagner for many private concerts for a single audience member; Ludwig II.
  • Neither WWI or WWII could cause any damage to the castle. 
  • At Hohenschwangau Castle, only guided tours are permitted, and photography is not allowed inside the castle.

Visiting Hohenschwangau Castle – Tips and Tricks

Hohenschwangau Castle is an amazing place to visit and has a lot of visual and historical culture to offer. If this castle seems like an attractive destination, then here are some general tips you can use to plan your visit:

Beautiful swan fountain at Hohenschwangau castle surrounded by green bushes and visiting tourists.
Beautiful swan fountain at Hohenschwangau castle. swan fountain, at Hohenschwangau castle flickr photo by shaferlens shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

How to get to Hohenschwangau Castle?

You need to get to the city of Füssen in order to visit Hohenschwangau Castle. In order to get to Füssen, you can travel by car, bus, or train. 

The cost of traveling by train depends on which city you’re taking it from. From Munich, it can cost you about €17.50 ($22 USD). When you get off at the station, the No. 38 bus is waiting in the lot. The Hohenschwangau castle is clearly labeled on the bus. Within 10 minutes you will be at the entrance, where you can collect your tickets.

A horse carriage ride is also available for the Hohenschwangau castle if you do not want to take a walk, but it costs an additional €4.50 ($5.48 USD) for uphill and €2.50 ($3.05 USD) downhill travel and you need to pay the amount directly to the driver. This service is not available during winters.

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

The castle is open daily, except December 24 and January 1. Opening hours of the castle are 09:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m. Ticket house opens and closes one hour before the castle is closed off to the public. 

The ticket costs €13.00 ($15 USD) along with €2.50 ($4 USD) service fee per person. Children under 18 who are accompanied by their parents and the companions of disabled people are only charged with the service fee. Reduced tickets (€12 {$15 USD} alongwith €2.50 {$4 USD}) are available for  students and senior citizens. A combined ticket that costs €25 ($31 USD) is also available that allows access to both Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castle.

The beautiful facade soldier statue details of the Hohenschwangau castle
The beautiful facade details of the Hohenschwangau castle. Exterior of Hohenschwangau Castle flickr photo by wfbakker2 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

The castle can only be seen through guided tours, and the whole affair takes approximately 35 minutes. These tours are available in the English and German languages, while audio guides are also available in Italian, Chinese, Spanish, French, Russian, Polish, Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • Collect the tickets at least one hour prior to your tour.
  • There is no elevator in the castle, therefore, you will have to take almost 90 steps to the second floor. Try to wear comfortable shoes to enjoy your visit.
  • The best way to avoid the crowd and enjoy your trip is to go early in the morning.
  • Try to schedule your visit during good weather. And if you are visiting during peak season, book your tickets in advance.
  • Don’t forget to spend some time walking around Mary’s Bridge.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Hohenschwangau Castle Areas

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