Revisiting Ludwig’s Castle

Several weeks ago Tracy wrote a delightful post on the inspiration for Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty Castles: Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany.

When I was a young child, my family owned a couple of TV dinner trays and this wonderful photo Tracy shared with us was the photo on one of these trays. I grew up eating snacks, playing games and pretending to do my homework on that tray. I never knew what I was looking at. I never bothered to find out. I just grew up with this belief that was what Europe looked like. That was what castles looked like and that Europe would be covered in them.

Then one day I was hiking through the Bavarian countryside – you know – as you do. As we walked across Marienbrucke (Mary’s Bridge) I suddenly saw this:

My head was spinning! This was the castle of my childhood dinner tray! The Ken Man was rather bemused at my excitement over a dinner tray, and together we headed off to explore this castle that had been with me all my life.

To get up to the castle there is a short and steep sweeping road. In the grand tradition of Germanic romanticism you cannot drive a car up to the castle. You have to be transported to this other fantasy world. So we boarded a horse drawn carriage and alighted up at the castle entrance.

This is no Cinderella’s Carriage! Although it probably had mice living in it.

At the castle entrance is a queuing area.

To readers of this blog, as Disneyphiles, the idea of a queuing area would not be a surprise, and of course I was snapping photos.

Now King Ludwig loved the Germanic and Norse Sagas of the 5th to 13th centuries. All of those mythical stories of gods and princesses and dragon slaying. That was his thing. And he also loved Wagner, whose operas told these stories – such as Tannhauser, Lohengrin and the infamous 17 hour Ring Cycle, albeit Wagner’s own special versions of those stories.

Don’t know what I’m talking about – The saga of Siegfried and Brunhilde falling in love is the stuff of legend. Even if she was his aunt.

Warner Bros’ Chuck Jones produced the masterful and delightful parody cartoon of the Siegfried and Brunhilde in What’s Opera, Doc? (Watch the full short on YouTube.)

The outrageously clever and hilarious Anna Russell did a summary of the entire cycle in only 22 minutes. (Watch the first part on YouTube.)

Disney has also dipped into the Wagnerian melodramas – perhaps there are shades of Sigurd/Siegfried killing the dragon in Fantasia and Fantasmic. During WWII Disney made a series of US war propaganda cartoons including “Education for Death” in which Hitler is portrayed as Siegfried wooing Germany as Brunhilde. However, this can now been seen as inappropriate extremism, and we shan’t go there.

Most famously Sleeping Beauty is drawn from this love affair as the two ladies (and I use the term advisedly with regard to Brunhilde) suffered the whole sleeping spell thing. Except Disney’s version removes all the big and loud Valkyrie business. And don’t get me started on Disney and gender stereotyping.

Whom would you rather meet in the Parks?


Anyway, throughout Ludwig’s castle are these magnificent frescos with scenes from Wagner’s operas:

Sigurd’s Saga

Remind you of the decorations in a certain other castle?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user FlipPoker

Then come all the way fun technologies. When I first went to WDW in 1993 I was amazed at the automated flushing toilets. But guess what? Ludwig had them first! In 1884. Think about it. Most people didn’t even have any plumbing let alone a flushing toilet. He also had plumbed running hot water, an electric bell system for calling his servants and dumb waiter lifts from the kitchens to bring up his banquet tables fully laid out. He was a technology nerd!

The Study – my office is in this style

Surely by now you’ve caught onto the theme. Here is a young man creating his own small sovereign state, where he built a fake medieval castle, recreated mythical stories, invented useful technology whilst showcasing promising artists and musicians.

Ludwig’s Opera Grotto even has fake rocks


So MOTM readers – What wonderful new technology would you put in your fairy tale castle?

Thanks to guest blogger, Mrs. Banks!  Mrs. Banks is a member of Zonta Club of Canberra Breakfast and a Disney Theme Parks fan. She makes her home in Canberra, Australia, and likes kittens, gardening and The Ken Man, but not necessarily in that order. She blogs at Mrs. Banks Goes to Convention

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