It was March 2014, when out of nowhere this castle’s photo appeared in my Facebook’s Newsfeed. I don’t remember searching for castles on Google, but there it was. Maybe it was a sign for me, that what I was seeking, was seeking me as well as Rumi had said.
I was going to visit my sister who lives in Hamburg that year. Taking consideration of Rumi’s insightful quote, I made it a point to visit Neuschwanstein Castle, located on a hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria. It was at that time when Argentina vs Germany’s final match was about to take place. The world and I, were eagerly waiting to see who would win FIFA World Cup’14. That amazing feeling of walking through the castle that inspired Walt Disney when he was making Sleeping Beauty was unforgettable.
I went to see the castle by road from Munich. Neuschwanstein literally means “New Swan Castle” with reference to the, “Swan Knight” from Richard Wagner’s characters of his drama.
But it wasn’t an easy task to reach to the castle in the hills. I had to wait for more than an hour, in queue to get my ticket in order to see one of the most frequently visited and photographed buildings in the world.
While I walked through the long trail of jog towards the castle, I had to cross a bridge called Marion Bridge. It was scary because I had to walk on the narrow pathway it provided to King Ludwig II’s castle.
After King Ludwig II took his life in the nearby lake in 1886, Neuschwanstein Castle was opened to the public. The tour guide told me that the basic propose of this castle was for the king to withdraw from his hectic public life. Tired of ruling, he created his own alternative world, in which as the reigning king of Bavaria he could live like a king of the Middle Ages.
That was precisely the idea behind this and the other castles he got constructed like Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee and Munich Residenz Palace Royal apartment.
However, all was not rainbows and butterflies during the construction of Neuschwanstein Castle, it is said that King Ludwig fell into heavy debt at the time. This is the castle he was found dead in one day. Whether he committed suicide or was murdered in the Lake Starnberg near the castle is heavily contested. I got goosebumps just listening to this story because I did not know about it earlier. I sat and reflected upon the fleeting nature of life while boating at the Lake Starnberg, where King Ludwig’s body wasn’t found until days. How innocent his wish seemed to create the Middle Ages culture as a reminder of his childhood.
It’s astonishing though, from any angle that I captured this castle from my camera, the beauty did not quite reflect what I was looking at in person. As night fell, the moon was peeking through the clouds and into the waters of Lake Starnberg. And like most millenials, I started Snapchatting photos and videos of my journey. After all, even though the platforms did little justice to the beauty of the dreamy castle, I had to share the fact that I had been here: I checked in, posted a photo of Marion Bridge, the outside and inside of Neuschwanstein Castle, posed inside and even took photos from various angles when on the road. It made me realise the power of social media that has transformed the way we share our ‘Kodak moments’ and photos on the go, instead of waiting to get back and tell stories. It is much like making others live that precise moment in our lives just by posting a post and we are good to go.
Just like kings we also have the power of influencing culture and each other with our social media habits. It should seem now that we are all travel writers. Maybe my travel photos and posts will inspire someone on my list to add Neuschwanstein Castle to their list of places to see in Germany. Who knows?