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 Füssen was to visit the two famous castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau located a short distance from this small, quaint town.
|Hohenschwangau and Alpsee|
The small town of Füssen 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.
|Bucolic scenery on outskirts of Füssen|
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 Füssen as a gateway to the castles, in the late afternoon and evening, Füssen is quiet.
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 Füssen 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 Füssen. 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.