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Click to enlarge   "Our Castle Story"
                    By Terry & Kim Young

 

Imagine a panoramic view of the Alps  snow covered mountaintops, freshly repainted and generously laid out country houses, with oversize balconies filled with  red geranium pouring over richly carved wooden rails. In village homes immense wall paintings, depicting scenes from the Catholic belief still practiced regularly by most Bavarians. Now add to this fairytale setting, Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig the II of Bavaria, and you find yourself in a wonderland. You most likely have seen Neuschwanstein Castle before; it inspired Walt Disney in designing Disneyland, and in  movies  shot, "Around the World in 80 days” in this unique location. Neuschwanstein, like an eagle’s nest, oversees the Hohneschwangau valley to Germany's North, while the backside is protected by steep mountain ranges.

   King Ludwig II was born in August of 1845 in Bavaria, which is now part of Germany. When his father died unexpectedly, Ludwig was to become King in 1864 at the tender age of eighteen. At the time of his coronation in 1869, Bavaria was a parliamentary monarchy much as England is today. The King received a salary and acted as the social head of the government but had only limited powers to run the country. Without real control with regard to the affairs of state, Ludwig's interest turned quickly to art, architecture, construction and music. The King had inherited an immense family fortune and saw no value in hoarding the funds in the bank, but rather decided to spend massive sums of money in the development of his interests, which included the employment of the Bavarian people and the development of the arts in his country. Many rumors and stories were developed around Ludwig, during and after his death. Like all geniuses, his peers were unable to understand his motivations. Called the "mad King of Bravura", Ludwig was cursed with alcoholism and took certain drugs for his severe periodontal disease, which resulted in the loss of most of his teeth.

King Ludwig IIAt Linderhof palace King Ludwig had a dining table on an elevator that lifted to the dining room where he could eat alone; rumors abounded as to why he would do this. In truth, with little or no teeth, it was painful for him to eat, making him appear to be very untidy when eating. Accordingly, King Ludwig simply did not want his servants to see him. Building plans for his first palace “Linderhof” were completed in 1870. The construction was concluded over the next several years. 

A plan for Neuschwanstein, the fairytale castle was completed in 1868 and the foundation was begun in 1869.  In 1873 Ludwig bought Herrenchiemsee Island and 1878 he started the foundation for a large palace on the scale of the French palace of Versailles, located outside Paris. Even with all three major projects going at once, Ludwig found time to design gardens, grottos, furniture, and paintings and was a patron of the great German opera composer Wagner.

Janks artist rendering..Click to enlargeWagner employed a set designer by the name of Christian Jank, who also became a personal artist for Ludwig and developed the artistic renderings and elevation drawing of Ludwig’s palaces and castles. Neuschwanstein castle was Ludwig’s favored project, but because certain elements were lacking, Ludwig and Jank were designing a new, more spectacular project to be named "Falkenstein". The Neuschwanstein castle project foot print is just shy of half an acre at approximately 19,466 square feet. The longest line in the project is 426 feet. The building footprints cover 8,366 square feet. This castle was under construction continually for 17 years and was 75% completed outside and 25% complete inside, at the time of Ludwig’s death. King Ludwig ll. died supposedly by drowning in Lake Stranberg in 1886 at the age of 41. Neuschwanstein castle is currently visited by over a million people yearly.

In the fall of 1995 Burnet, Texas businessman and developer Mr. Terry Young and his wife Kim took a long awaited European vacation. One of their goals was to visit many of Europe’s great castles, in particular Neuschwanstein Castle. On their arrival at Neuschwanstein, the Youngs took the standard English speaking tour of the castle, which is fairly limited since only approximately 25% of the interior is complete.  At the end of the tour the Youngs walked down a long gallery that led to the exit. The gallery walls were lined with many pictures and drawing of Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee. Mr. and Mrs. Young who were familiar with most of King Ludwig’s building projects noticed that several of the drawings did not appear to be anything that the King had built and they were very curious as to what these drawings represented. The Youngs retraced their steps and found the young lady who had been their tour guide. They asked the guide to come with them to look at the drawings in question. Even though the guide insisted these were some of the original drawings of Neuschwanstein, the Youngs disagreed and asked if they could speak with the Castle Director. Being a pleasant young lady, she took the Youngs to the first floor offices and introduced them to the director,  who spoke very little English. He explained to the guide that the Youngs were indeed correct! King Ludwig had been making plans to build another castle, to be called "Falkenstein". The castle was to be built approximately 20 kilometers from Fussen, which is the old town located just below Neuschwanstein.  View ruins of Castle Falkenstein near Pfronten

The director went on to explain to the guide and the Youngs that because of the disagreements over his construction projects with his uncle, King Ludwig had kept the Falkenstein project fairly quiet and had hidden the drawings in Neuschwanstein,  where they remained for many years after Ludwig’s death. The King had purchased a 20-acre dolomite rock hill top where he planned to build the castle. This hill top was  where the old dilapidated medieval castle Falkenstein lay in ruins. The Youngs asked the director if they could be permitted to see the drawings in question. The director explained that he had only been director for eight months and the previous director Wilhelm Kienberger had taken the drawings with him to work on a book about King Ludwig. At the Young's request the director gave them the address in Lechbruch, Germany, where the former castle director now lived. Because of the Youngs interest the director and the guide gave them a complete tour of the remaining unfinished sections of the castle normally closed to the general public. Terry and Kim were grateful and thanked both the Castle director and their guide. After leaving Neuschwanstein the Youngs proceeded to Lechbruch to locate Mr. Kienberger. After a short time they arrived at the home and shop of Mr. Kienberger,  who lived with his son.  After explaining their interest, Mr. Kienberger was kind enough to make copies of Christian Janks artist rendering of Falkenstein Castle along with other minor sketches.                    

On their return flight to the United States, Mr. Young looked lovingly at Mrs. Young and said, “Sweetheart,  what would you think about spending the next ten years or so, building our own Falkenstein Castle,  in Texas?"  To which Kim Young smiled and replied, "Why not!"

The Castle Chapel, Knights Hall, and grounds are available for a limited number of weddings, charitable events, and as a motion picture and special project film site. 

    Four thousand pound bock of solid granite! Click to enlarge.     Kim & Terry Young
Click to enlarge picture...

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