a panoramic view of the Alps snow covered mountaintops, freshly
repainted and generously laid out country houses, with oversize balconies
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.
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.
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 yea
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.
Wagner 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
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.
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,
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.