In princess and fairy tales, there is almost always a castle. One, in particular, was Walt Disney’s inspiration for using it in his princess stories. It was the setting in the movie Cinderella. It also appears in Disneyland as Sleeping Beauty’s castle. It is Neuschwanstein Castle, located in Bavaria, Germany.
Neuschwanstein Castle has a more than interesting history.
Although its image appears in the dreams of the little ones, it also has in its past another not so splendid history. There the Nazis kept the looted works of art and the gold seized from the Jews during the Second World War.
The castle is a work of art in itself, which looks like something out of a fairy tale and placed there, on an imposing rock. It is nestled in the Bavarian Alps, surrounded by mountains and lakes.
It was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who was born in 1845. Today, it is recognized as the “king of fairy tales”. Ludwig II wanted a palace that would stand out for the art of its design, architecture and landscape. Undoubtedly, he succeeded.
In his time, Louis II was known as the mad king, for his reputation as an eccentric. As a child, he drew castles in his father’s palace. At the age of 24, when he was already king, he had Neuschwanstein built on a rock. He intended to use it as a refuge, but he never lived there.
Construction began in 1869 and lasted 20 years. The interior of the castle was designed by a set designer. The king’s wish was to perform Wagner’s works there.
The death of the king
In 1886, while the king was sleeping, he was arrested for his alleged mental incapacity and shortly after, he was found drowned in one of the neighboring lakes. More than suspicious, since Louis II was an excellent swimmer.
Neuschwanstein Castle opened its doors to visitors only a week after the king’s mysterious death. Experts claim that its architecture is inspired by other castles that Ludwig II visited during his travels, the castle of Wartburg in Germany, and the castle of Pierrefonds, in France.
The Nazis also chose Neuschwanstein Castle.
During World War II, the castle became a warehouse for Nazi looters. There they stored stolen works of art. The movie “Operation Monument”, starring George Clooney, tells this story.
When Hitler invaded France, he authorized the confiscation of valuable cultural property owned by Jews. Through the creation of the organization Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, the looted items were stored at Neuschwanstein Castle and other locations in Europe. Hitler’s order was that, in case of defeat, they should destroy the castle. Fortunately, however, they did not have enough time to execute this order.
The Allied forces found more than 20,000 priceless works of art, jewelry and furnishings in the castle.