Mad Ludwig’s Last Fantasy
Turn back the clock and follow in the tracks of Germany’s eccentric Ludwig II along the “King’s Road” in a horse-drawn coach. Authentic 19th- century carriages hold up to nine passengers, who often choose to ride on leather-covered seats behind the uniformed coachman.
The spectacular, unspoiled beauty of the Bavarian meadows, dense woodlands, mountains, and crystal-blue lakes is enhanced by the sound of cowbells and horses’ hooves. Forgotten coach roads are practically traffic-free and lead you at a leisurely pace past isolated rural villages, historic gasthof inns, and country churches with onion-shaped domes, to the Mad King’s flamboyant Neuschwanstein Castle and its fairy-tale alpine setting.
Neuschwanstein was one of three castles created by Ludwig, and by far his most ambitious and theatrical extravagance. Set on an isolated rock ledge amid heart-stopping scenery, it is the turreted prototype that inspired the castle in Sleeping Beauty and later at Disneyland.
An expert at turning his will and whimsy into reality, Ludwig called upon the royal court’s set designer rather than an architect for the creation of Neuschwanstein. (You can also visit the nearby castle of Hohenschwangau, where Ludwig lived while overseeing the work of Neuschwanstein.)
It would take seventeen years and endless royal funds before it was finished—following Ludwig’s mysterious death at age forty, days after he was forced to abdicate for reasons of insanity. Ludwig lived at the castle only 170 days before he died.