Saturday, October 19, 2019

Füssen, Germany and a Pair of Fine Castles

Hohenschwangau and Alpsee
When Nancy and I visited Austria and Bavaria in May 2018, we stopped for an overnight in Füssen on our journey from Innsbruck (see Innsbruck: A Sightseeing Stroll) to Munich.  The purpose of a brief stop in ssen was to visit the two famous castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau located a short distance from this small, quaint town.
Bucolic scenery on outskirts of Füssen
The small town of ssen is only a few miles from the Austrian/German border.  Having crossed the border between the two countries, the first business to attend to after disembarking from the bus was a border control check.  After clearing scrutiny from the local gendarmes, we grabbed our luggage and got our bearings.  Unfortunately, the bus stop was a long walk from the town proper and with no taxi in sight, we set off on foot.

On checking into our BnB and unpacking a few things, we set off for the main square and touristy market area of town in search of a bite to eat.  While very busy during the day when tourists and tour buses descend upon ssen as a gateway to the castles, in the late afternoon and evening, ssen is quiet.
High Castle
Market Street
Market Street
Market Street
Since the tour of the castles was scheduled for the next morning, we spent our early evening wandering around town.  Besides the many shops and restaurants along Market Street, we took in a leisurely stroll along the River Lech.  Two of the major sights near the center of town are:

High Castle.  On the hill overlooking ssen is the imposing High Castle.  It was the summer residence for the Bishop of Augsburg.  Notice how the facades are painted to present an illusion of three-dimensional window and door ornamentation.  The interior courtyard amphitheater would make a good locale for summer concerts.



Basilica of St Magnus.  Adjoining the monastery is the Basilica of St, Magnus.  Within this church are the relics of St. Magnus seen in the glass cross suspended over the altar.   


Having secured an early morning time to visit Hohenschwangau, we awoke early, repacked our bags, went into the basement for breakfast, and then stowed our luggage before catching a shuttle to the castles.

The shuttle dropped us off at the ticket office where we collected our reserved tickets.  Since we had about a half an hour before our tour of Hohenschwangau began, we walked to the museum and investigated its offerings.  High on the bluff behind the ticket office stands the imposing Hohenschwangau Castle.

Hohenschwangau, built in the 12th Century, was the boyhood home of "Mad' King Ludwig.  Ludwig's father, King Maximilian II, rebuilt the castle in 1830 after having the place destroyed by Napoleon I.  Tours are kept small with no more than about 30 people at a time.  As expected in a castle such as this, the interior is breathtaking displaying the style, wealth, and taste in art that this family held.  The guided tour is no more than about 30 minutes but worth a visit. 

Once finished with the tour of Hohenschwangau, the tour of Neuschwanstein is up next.  When both castles are visited, tours are separated by two-hours to allow ample time to travel between the two.  We found two hours more than enough time to hop on the frequent shuttle from Hohenschwangau to Neuschwanstein.

Neuschwanstein is a massive and imposing castle situated on a rocky outcropping.  When viewed from the valley floor near Hohenschwangau, Neuschwanstein may not look so imposing.  Looks are deceiving as the castle is about a 30 minute shuttle ride away.  
Up close, the scale of the building is overwhelming.  Massive white sandstone veneer reaches skyward.  Inside, the rooms are furnished in an opulent, Wagnerian style in which money was no object.  Ludwig lived here only briefly before his death in 1886.  While construction took 17 years, Ludwig only lived here for 172 days.

One of the best views of the castle, itself, is obtained by taking a short but steep hike up the hillside to Mary's Bridge.  Mary's Bridge spans the deep gorge and offers stunning views of Neuschwanstein Castle perched on a rocky outcropping, the rocky gorge, and the valley far below.  Stunning!  If the castle looks familiar,  Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for the castle at Disneyland.
Neuschwanstein from Mary's Bridge
With the castle tours over, we took the bus back into ssen.  While I went back to the BnB to fetch our luggage, Nancy bought tickets to Munich on the early afternoon train.  Grabbing a quick lunch near the train station, we boarded the train to Munich.

Beautiful scenery and well worth a stop on a trip from Innsbruck to Munich. 

36 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. This region is very photogenic. It's is hard to take a bad picture!

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  2. It is certainly a very beautiful place. I have only been to Neuschwanstein, nice to see pictures of Hohenschwangau as well.

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    1. It certainly is beautiful. You visited Neuschwanstein but not Hohenschwangau? Maybe next time? There is a luge track nearby. I didn't have time to give that a try but maybe next time for me?

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  3. Lovely pair of castles and thanks for pointing out the tromp windows,I might not have noticed otherwise!
    Best Iain

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    1. Thanks, Iain. The painting on the facades really present a believable optical illusion. Only when close could I determine that it was paint and not structure.

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  4. Boy, takes me back. I remember the sound of the cow bells coming up from the valley whilst looking out over the scene from Neuscwhanstein castle. Almost an otherworldly impression. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Knowing that you spent time in the region during your military days, I thought you might enjoy revisiting this place.

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  5. Two stunning castles set in a lovely part of the World.

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  6. That brings back great memories for me. We stayed in Hotel Muller in the shadow of Hohenshwangau and I still remember some excellent venison I had for dinner there one evening.

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    1. I remember Hotel Muller. The hotel,looked quite nice. Venison dinner sounds delicious. Is was at the base of Hohenschwangau with a nice gift shop. What prompted you to overnight at Hohenschwangau rather than in Fussen?

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    2. I really can't remember now. It was back in December of 2001 but I do recall we had just spent a couple of nights in Munich and the next stop was either Salzburg or Halstatt. Wonderful places all of them.

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    3. We really enjoyed Salzburg spending three nights there. I will get around to travelogue from Salzburg, some day...and Eggmuhl.

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  7. Rey pretty pics. I love castles. 😀

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  8. You did a great job with your camera. I was at Neuschwanstein two decades ago. Nowadays I would prefer Füssen. Maybe I would search the place, where the treaty of Füssen was signed (yeah, me the old WAS-dog).
    The high castle and even the church are looking so clear and nice from an asthetic Point of view (some Bavarian and Austrian catholic churches are just too much for me, too much gold and blingbling ...).
    Maybe one day you will find the way to Freiburg.. Don't miss to write me a note before, if you would do.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the photos, Andre! Our quick stop in Füssen was rewarding.

      A trip to Freiburg? My wife and I have a planned trip back to Switzerland in May. Perhaps we can make time for a quick side trip to Freiburg?

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    2. Using the ICE, it's not too far from Basel. I would recommend to visit the Haus zum Kirschgarten in Basel (the bigger location of the historical museum next to the Barfüßlerplatz don't have the Swiss uniforms in their exibition since some years). If you prefer the surroundings of Bern, I would recommend the Castle of Jegenstorf (short tripp per local train from Bern) with hundreds of interesting paintings. We were at Jegenstorf some weeks ago for an Event of Les Soirées-Amusantes. https://www.lessoireesamusantes.com/blog (in French, English and German)

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    3. These are helpful suggestions! We had not put a stop in Basel on the itinerary but Switzerland is a small country so nothing is really out of reach.

      Bern is a stopping place where we plan to spend several days. I will put Jegenstorf Castle on the list of places to visit.

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  9. Wonderful scenes, Jonathan. The castle is beautiful and set in an equally beautiful landscape.

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    1. Very serene and beautiful especially before the tour buses arrive!

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  10. Wonderful report Jonathan, I have visited Hohenschwangau a few years ago, worth a visit for the castle ad landscape!

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    1. The place is certainly worth a visit! Glad you enjoyed the brief travelogue.

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  11. Great pictures Jonathan. I have always wanted to see Neuschwanstein. One day maybe.

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  12. I left a comment here but it disappeared for some reason. Beautiful pictures! Since I live in Bavaria I've been to both places and they are truly fantastic and when viewed up close really give the scale of the castles especially Neuschwanstein and like you mentioned the view from the bridge is epic.

    Christopher

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    1. That’s strange, Christopher. I remember replying to your comment! Thanks for persevering. You live in Bavaria? Where exactly?

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  13. Beautiful pictures, and on my list of places to visit someday as well!

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