"The spot is one of the lovliest that can be found . . ."

Work begins

The foundation stone was finally laid in September, 1869 and work continued at an agonisingly slow pace for the next 23 years. (Contrary to popular belief, work on the castle did not stop as soon as Ludwig died. The castle reached it's current form in 1892, six years after Ludwig's death.)

The first part of Neuschwanstein to be completed was the Gothic-style gatehouse in 1873. During the mid-1870's, as more and more money was being spent on the other castles, the intricate decoration that was originally planned became more and more sparse.

Christian Jank's designs, dated 1870, for the decoration of the arcade connecting the Gatehouse with the main section of the Castle (the 'Palas). These ornate carvings were to face the Courtyard. (Click the right image for a detailed view.)

Nearing completion

By 1880 the 'Palas', or main section of the castle, was complete, and the interior decoration begun. Originally designed to be a Temple to Wagner, in 1879 Ludwig ordered, "The paintings of the new castle ought to revive the real sagas and not Wagner's interpretations of them". Suggestions for possible decoration were provided by Dr. Hyacinth Holland, a historian of literature and expert in medieval imagery. He was also a fervent Wagner-hater. It is an interesting exercise to speculate the reason why Ludwig's changed the decorative scheme.

As time went on, the interior decoration started getting complex - the castle of Lohengrin and Tannhäuser also became the castle of Wagner's last opera, "Parsifal" (Percival). The Minstrel's Hall of "Tannhäuser" became decorated with scenes from "Parsifal", and the Grail Hall from "Parsifal" surfaced in the Throne Room, the plans of which were drawn in 1881. Other Wagnerian themes are - the corridors devoted to the Nibelungen legends ("Der Ring des Niblungen"), and a room devoted to the Nuremberg Mastersingers ("Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg"). The only Wagnerian story not featured in the castle is The Flying Dutchman.*

The paradox of Neuschwanstein is that every room is devoted to a Wagner opera, yet the decoration illustrates not Wagner, but the original legend that had inspired Wagner.

The King's private apartments were completed by Christmas Day, 1881, the Throne Hall in 1886 and the Minstrel's Hall by Good Friday, 1884.

Ludwig lived in the castle for the first time between May 21 and June 8, 1884. He was staying in Neuschwanstein when the commission from Munich arrived to take him to Berg Castle on June 12, 1886.

* Wagner's early, lest known works not included (eg. "Rienzi", "Die Feen" etc.)

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