11 chilling ironies about Neuschwanstein Castle

Ratna Srivastava
R Blogs
Published in
8 min readFeb 13, 2024


The biggest tourist attraction in Germany

As the world awakes to unusual personality of Ludwig II, Schloss Neuschwanstein has become a window to peep into his dark, solitary, tragic, deeply misunderstood world. This might be the reason why Castle Neuschwanstein abounds with striking ironies, some interesting, some tragic, mostly poignant and all paradoxical just like its maker.

Being a king is every bit as good and bad as they say, or Ludwig could never have been able to build his castles and still hate being a king!

If this isn’t the greatest irony, consider these:

Irony 1:

Neuschwanstein was a castle with no real purpose fit for a castle

Ludwig built Neuschwanstein castle at a time when owing to rapidly advancing modernity, creeping urbanisation and dismantling of military based monarchies in Europe, the need to have a castle at all was diminishing as rapidly as the setting sun. Neither the Schwangau region where it was built was a foreign/internal invasion threat-prone area nor could the castle even defend itself or the inmates in case a threat did arise.

With just about 15 finished rooms out of ‘planned-but- never-built-200’, it wasn’t large enough to function as administrative office, recieve royal visitors, conduct state business or house weapons and military soldiers. All in all, it was just a decorative show-castle with no real purpose other than to indulge Ludwig’s imagination in bygone romantic-medieval-mythological age in a modern live-in-immersive-theatre style!

Irony 2:

Ludwig kept building it. It never got finished. Not to his last day. Not to date…

Neuschwanstein in 1875, after roughly 6-7 years of construction. Wikipedia
Neuschwanstein taking shape, under construction 16 years later: Bower still missing, Rectangular Tower under construction (photograph c. 1882–85) Wikipedia

And then, it took nearly 20 long years to build yet still managed to remain stubbornly unfinished as Ludwig breathed his last!

Construction began in 1869 and had to be stopped in 1886 after Ludwig died.

Neuschwanstein under construction: upper courtyard (photograph c. 1886) This is what it must have looked like when Ludwig died

Considering the castle’s floor plan its major point of interest was never built. It is interesting that the castle is still considered such a beauty even without its most beautiful feature.

Irony 3:

Never meant for visitors, it does only that: Receives visitors everyday nonstop from all parts of the world!

Dining Hall

Ludwig had built Neuschwanstein as a private retreat far away from the madding crowd exclusively for himself. Yeah, a show castle! He had never intended it to be visited by outside people. Pushed into bankruptcy due to his royal negligences, his successor Prince-Regent Luitpold opened it to paying visitors just 6 weeks after his death.

Around 18,000 people visited Neuschwanstein in the first eight weeks alone, and since then the number of visitors has just continued to rise.

Allegedly, more than 1.3 million-1.5 million people visit annually, with as many as 6,000 per day in summers.

Irony 4:

It was more created and designed by Ludwig himself than the Castle’s official architects and designers

He took such a personal interst in the designing and planning of each and every thing about it that Neuschwanstein as we see it now has nothing about the architects and planners but all and all of Ludwig. This excerpt from his letter reveals it all so well:

“His Majesty wishes that … the ship be placed further from the shore, that Lohengrin’s neck be less tilted, that the chain from the ship to the swan be of gold and not of roses, and finally that the style of the castle shall be kept medieval.”

Irony 5:

The epitome of architectural beauty, some people actually called it ugly

Ludwig’s Study chamber in Neuschwanstein

When it began taking shape Neuschwanstein was heavily deplored from all contemporary architects as ‘kitsch, gaudy and vulgar’. It is the very epitome of beauty, elegance and original character now.

Irony 6:

Although, defamed as being the reason for state bankruptcy, Neuschwanstein was privately funded by King Ludwig II

Neuschwanstein project drawing (Christian Jank 1869) The keep in the left half of the picture and the Basteiggarten in the front right were not realised. Wikipedia

Building this castle was extremely expensive and despite having lack of funds and heavy private borrowing Ludwig certainly nowhere economised or compromised. Ironically Neuschwanstein started generating state revenue four years after his sad demise. And here’s another irony: He funded the castle from his personal purse by acquiring credit through various sources and even then got heavily criticised for building it;

This same castle has now been filling the state treasurey since a century and a half and has generated so much income that it has paid for itself several times over!

In simple words: you follow your passion and lose your name, foot and neck for it. Then state royally steps in and begins making money off that same passion of yours?

It cost roughly 20 millions to build it then. It now draws about 6.5 million annual revenue.

Irony 7:

Ludwig’s much deplored personal project is now biggest national cash cow and biggest tourist magnet in Germany

The Throne Hall (Wikipedia)

It was Ludwig’s biggest building project among several other ongoing and some still lounging in pipeline. He took more interest in building his castles than governing his kingdom which set off panic button for his ministers for welfare of Bavaria. Ironically, this project has brought not only him but also Bavaria and ultimately Germany the biggest international popularity.

Irony 8:

Neuschwanstein reflects Ludwig’s unique personality, the personality that his family and ministers actively sought to erase

Livingroom (Wikipedia)

Ludwig’s parents and tutors felt concerned that his shy, sensitive, quiet, reclusive personality wasn’t good for kingdom and tried extreme measures to remodel him. However, his unique personality was tremendously instrumental in giving birth to Neuschwanstein and for its ever-increasing popularity.

Were he different from who he was, or were he to become what his parents wanted him to be, he and his fairy castles wouldn’t be what they are today. They both are now appreciated for very qualities they were despised for lacking back then.

Irony 9:

Ludwig kept funding, kept building and kept defending it but never got to live here

By Lokilech — Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4740346

The castle that took 20 years to build, and drained him dry of nearly everything, actually allowed him unfairly only 172 days to live under its roof which is even less than half a year! What can be more ironic than this?

His ghost, wandering in peace or otherwise, is now said to haunt the castle where Ludwig himself had always dreamed of living.

Irony 10:

Happily or unhappily his last day of freedom was spent here

Hall of singers

Built as his personal earthly paradise where Ludwig could be free and happy, it tragically turned into the place where he also got arrested (and deported to another place where four days later he met his mysterious death).

His bedroom. It was in this room that Ludwig was arrested on the night between 11 and 12 June 1886. (Wikipedia) Notice the swans on the carpet design.

This castle never brought him the happiness he had so longed and striven for in life! On the contrary, it showered him with international acclaim once he was no more..!

One can only imagine what thoughts must be passing through his head as he was being transported with the full view of the beckoning Neuschawanstein before his eyes. But maybe for once he was thinking about something more pressing than his castle?

Irony 11:

Neuschwanstein castle both dragged him to his ruin as well as catapulted him to spectacular global fame

Official Postcard

Interestingly, his castles were the reason for his downfall and his castles are the reason for his rapid and steady ascent to fame. Indeed, he and his castles have brought more name, prosperity and tourists to Bavaria than any other Bavarian monarch.

Like the incomplete castle his life ended suddenly nearly just as incomplete.

Ludwig hated being a king through and through but did everything that only kings can do except just governing his kingdom, or who could afford building palace after palace without working a well paying job and without having a source of income other than rich inheritance and revenue that he had ‘because’ he was a king and the son of a king?

Moral of the story? Oh, so many!

Don’t change yourself even if the world around you thinks you should.

Public opinion is fickle and is subject to change. Don’t bother about it too much. Imagine if Ludwig had listened to his family and decided to concentrate on being a good ruler like his predecessors instead of being the unique, dreamy, solitary, fairytale escapist?

Or if he had listened to his contemporaries and decided to change Neuschwanstein into something more regular, insipid, dull, tasteless and routine?

And a serious word for the people, the type of Ludwig’s ministers, architects and critics:

Guys, we know you all are very experienced and experts but, please give others a chance.

There are many Ludwigs out there working on their Neuschwansteins. Please, let them be who they are! You never know when they might surprise you with what they can do!

But that’s just my opinion. Thanks for reading!



Ratna Srivastava
R Blogs

Author of Emit Eht (Science-Fiction/Metaphysical and Visionary Romance) Children’s Author, Thinker, Philosopher. Editor R Blogs, R Quotes.