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Fairytale Castles: Romantic Travel

By October 31, 2010 , , ,

Taking a leisure trip to the countryside is one of the most fulfilling ways to relax, much more if it is surrounded with romantic castles we only read in fairytale books. As the old adage goes "fairytale do come true", it is indeed magical to visit these amazing castles once in a lifetime.

Two of the most frequently visited royal structures in the world are Windsor Castle in England and Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. Known for its grandeur, charm, mystic, gothic architecture and romantic ancient history, these two castles attracted tourists annually.

WINDSOR CASTLE


Windsor Castle echoes a vivid past with a touch of mystic and romance, so much so that Diarist, Samuel Pepys dubbed it as the most romantic castle in the world. it was at Windsor that Queen Victoria retired in seclusion, mourning for forty years the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert, it was also at Windsor where the present Queen, Elizabeth II, discovered how much she loved the dashing Greek Prince who would become her husband in 1947. 

The castle is the ultimate symbol of Great Britain and the focal point of the British Monarchy. It is the favorite royal residence of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and the seat of court during New Year and Royal Ascot Party in June. It is  the oldest inhabited castle in the world dated back from the Norman conquests in the 12th century. When the Duke of Normandy, William, defeated the last Anglo-Saxon King, Harold II, in the famous Battle of Hasting, he became England's King and crowned as William I, he then chose Windsor Castle as his official royal residence.

Windsor Castle covers 13 acres, cloaked on the chalk cliff of Berkshire county above the placid Thames River. The castle had been remodeled and refurbished by many monarchs over the centuries. The most splendid renovation was done by King George IV. The King preferred to stay at Windsor than in London to avoid a wife he found intolerable and the subjects he could not understand. He ordered the grand renovation of the castle's several state apartments, turrents and labyrinths. 

The Queen's chamber, originally built for Queen Catherine, wife of King Charles II, now a room where Queen Elizabeth II received her audience when visiting at Windsor. Image from www.royal-windsor.com

During the English Civil War, where King Charles I (the second Stuart monarch) was beheaded through the order of military leader Oliver Cromwell, the royal family fled to France (Charles I's wife was Princess Henrietta Maria of France) and the castle became the prison site of the enemies of the Cromwellians. Ten years later, the monarchy was restored and Charles I's son ascended the throne as King Charles II, he started the extensive restoration of the castle replacing most of its ancient features with grand architectural designs. He also commissioned architects to design the "Long Walk" similar to the beautiful ground of the Palace of Versailles in France. Long Walk is a magnificent avenue of neatly-trimmed garden, trees and flowers, located on the southern part of the castle.
The elaborate garden of the Long Walk. Image from www.destination360.com

Best Attractions at Windsor: 
Windsor Castle became very popular because of its glorious past, today the castle continues to mesmerize the public with its unique background of fairytale and legend, often visited by travelers whole year round, the castle is open to the public when the Queen is not in residence, booking can be arranged ahead of the tour.

Windsor Castle, with all its romantic splendor, offers one of the best traveling experiences in Britain. It has a breathtaking view of the countryside with lush green plants covering the area. It has two working farms, a chapel, a souvenir's shop, a private residence called "Frogmore", originally bought by King George III for his unmarried daughter, Princess Augusta, and several winding pathways.

A guided tour will bring you to the imposing ground of the castle with a beautiful landscape of trimmed plants, flowers and park benches, visitors will also witness the ancient ritual of changing of the guards, then take a leisure walk around the elaborate avenue of the Long Walk, wandering around the breezy environment of the Windsor Great Park and a sneak view of the state apartments edifice and St. George Chapel. This site offers best packages for a magical Windsor tour www.trafalgar.com.

NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE

If there is one ancient fortress in the world, aside from Windsor Castle, that I am aching to visit, it is Neuschwanstein Castle. This spectacular royal structure offers a wonderful, lovely view of the wooded hills of the Bavarian region, the rocky Schwangau village and the placid lake surrounding the area. It is indeed a welcome respite, a perfect place to unwind and rethink about life!

Experience the beautiful countryside scenery of the amazing fairytale castle of King Ludwig II

The existence of Neuschwanstein Castle is as mystical as the existence of fairytale. Originally conceived through the illusion and fantasy of the King who was ruthlessly called by his ministers "the mad king", the castle stood imposing on the breezy ground of Schwangau in Bavaria region. 

The King's excesses and uncommon fascination towards fairytale earned him the title "the Swan King", his pompous extravagance annoyed his ministers that he was declared insane and psychologically incapacitated to govern a Kingdom. He was forced to abdicate and held a prisoner. He was found dead with his psychiatrist one day through mysterious circumstances in a shallow water, about a knee level, a strikingly uncommon occurrence, since the King, according to history, was an excellent swimmer.

Feel the romance of living happily ever after through Neuschwanstein Tour. Image from www.junksblogger.com

King Ludwig II never married and just devoted his life ruling his Kingdom with dissatisfactions from his ministers. He was extremely fascinated with poet Richard Wagner's theater plays that he ordered his staff to imitate the costumes and characters of Wagner's theatrical performances. The King detested official gatherings and preferred a life of fantasy and would mostly confine in his private apartment in the castle. 

The construction of Neuschwanstein Castle was one of his splendid illusions, the creation of the building horrified his ministers as he commissioned theater artists for the castle's design rather than architects. When the King died mysteriously, the construction was continued and financed by the government. When monarchy was abolished, the castle was converted into a museum and the government opened it to the public to generate income.

Neuschwanstein became a popular holiday destination among travelers who are besotted with the castle's mysterious existence and King Ludwig's real story. It became a favorite location of Hollywood's fairytale movies. The castle of Sleeping Beauty in Disneyland is patterned after Neuschwanstein Castle.

For more information about Europe's grandest castles, visit my CASTLE BLOG

For online booking and complete details of a Neuschwanstein Castle tour, you may visit their site www.hohenschwangau.de (please choose the english page)

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