Bavaria may be the most beautiful place I’ve ever been on planet earth. Driving the winding roads, awestruck by nature, you can’t help but feel like you’ve traveled back in time. (See a video of what that experience is like here.)
We stayed a night in the ancient Roman city of Füssen, and it felt like one of the most peaceful places in the world. It’s located right by Ludwig II’s castle, Neuschwanstein. The beautiful Romanesque Revival construction was meticulously planned out and full of interesting quirks. Ludwig was known for his reclusiveness and did his best to get far away from the chaos of Munich to live out a kind of personal dream of the Middle Ages. He’s quite commonly known as the mad king.
From the looks of the joint, you’d think this castle is crazy old. Truth is, it was only completed in the late 1800s. It’s design at the time was seen as outdated by contemporary architects in Germany. However, this passion project of an insanely rich man (who also drove himself wildly into debt as a result) has become a popular tourist destination.
Sadly, Ludwig only slept there 11 nights of his life, and the castle wasn’t even completed before his death. Immediately following his demise, the gates were opened to paying visitors as a way of reconciling the deceased’s debts. Over 6 million people have made the journey since.
(Photography is not allowed inside the structure. If you’d like to see inside, scroll through these images on wikipedia.)
It’s distant past is much more charming than it’s heartbreaking history of the 20th century. During WWII, Füssen was home to a sub-camp of Dachau, and Neuschwanstein was used as a storehouse for stolen art and gold.
On this same trip, I was able to visit the concentration camp in Dachau. I don’t quite know how to reconcile the immense feelings and sadness and darkness I felt wandering those grounds with the cities that bustle about there today. It’s mind blowing that such horrific deeds occurred in these places of natural beauty–a juxtaposition that almost broke the world and left so many lives destroyed in its wake.