Greetings from Bavaria
After watching the 1973 film Ludwig by Italian director Luchino Visconi I was inspired to visit Bavaria. Ludwig is a biographical film about the life and death of King Ludwig II, the late king of Bavaria. Ludwig II was a king who was passionate about art and fantasy. He commissioned the building of the extraordinary castle Neuschwanstein. This fairy tale castle nestled high in the alpine foothills of Germany may be familiar to you as it was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle.
Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau
Long before Cinderella, Neuschwanstein was known as the castle of the fairy-tale King. It was built by Ludwig II in dedication to composer Richard Wagner with whom he was a lifelong friend. Theatre designers and artisans worked in close collaboration with architects to bring Ludwig’s spectacular vision to life. Walls within the castle are adorned with colourful paintings of myth and medieval legends. Knights, kings, dragons, deer, flora, and fauna are illustrated in romantic scenes that depict a time that Ludwig II dreamt of. The interior of the castle is decorative, its features are exquisite, they are testament to Ludwig II’s elaborate taste and imaginative desires.
Ludwig II spent much of his childhood in Hohenschwangau castle which is neighbouring Neuschwanstein in the Bavarian Alps. The name of the castle means the high district of the swan. It was built by Ludwig II’s father King Maximilian II of Bavaria. Ludwig developed a fascination with swans in his lifetime perhaps inspired by growing up in a castle which featured swan motifs and icons or by the neighboured Schwansee (Swan Lake).
As a child Ludwig had been captivated by Wagner’s romantic opera Lohengrin which was inspired by the medieval tale of the Swan Knight. This medieval tale was a tale of a heroic rescuer who arrives in a swan drawn boat to defend a maiden without revealing his identity. Ludwig II was sometimes referred to as the Swan King, due to his fascination with this story and there are countless references to swans in Neuschwanstein.
Neuschwanstein is located on a hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near the picturesque medieval town of Füssen where I stayed. Füssen is a sleepy town located on the banks of the Lech River. It is at the end of the romantic road tourist trail that is popular with people exploring southern Germany.
Füssen’s old town is steeped in history. The town is famous for its lute and violin production and many fine examples can be enjoyed in the Füssen Heritage Museum which is located in the former Benedictine monastery of St Mang. The heritage museum holds a fascinating collection, as well as instruments there are many other valuable art works and archaeological finds. There is also a very beautiful and ornately decorative library that you can enjoy at your leisure.
Füssen is an atmospheric town with cobbled streets, quaint passages, grand courtyards, and medieval arches. There are some pleasant shops, restaurants and cafe options around the town especially for alfresco dining. Food here is fresh, hearty, and simple. One of the familiar tastes of Bavaria is Bratwurst a grilled sausage made from minced pork and beef served hot in a roll with German mustard. Nothing tastes better after a day of hiking in and around the local area and of course it is preferably washed down with a traditional beer.
Forggensee and Tegelberg
There are lots of great walks to be had in the local area, one of the nicest is a walk along the river Lech which leads you to lake Forggensee. This is a beautiful spot where you can enjoy a tranquil boat trip around the serene lake.
Another great walk that you can do is down from the top of Tegelberg mountain. You can take a cable car up to the top. It is a moderately challenging hike but worth the effort as you will be treated with glistening streams, waterfalls, fragrant pines, and a sprinkling of charming wooden houses. I recommend talking a picnic with you and stopping for some time to rest and enjoy the view back down to the valley.
The Greetings from Bavaria pocket square
My greetings from Bavaria design is inspired by Neuschwanstein and its picturesque location. Medieval legends reawaken in a fairy tale scene that is set within the castle grounds at moonlight. A knight rides steadily through a fragrant forest of spruce, fir, and pine trees. We do not know who they are or where they are going. The floral motifs are inspired by the decorative style of traditional Bavarian embroidery. The swan gatekeepers are a homage to King Ludwig II who was sometimes called the Swan King.
Shop the Greetings from Bavaria pocket square.
Shop the Greetings from Bavaria Christmas card.