Neuschwanstein Castle, (English: "New Swanstone Castle") is a nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner. Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, rather than Bavarian public funds.
The palace was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886. Since then more than 61 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle. More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with as many as 6,000 per day in the summer. The palace has appeared prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle and later, similar structures.
Neuschwanstein embodies both the contemporaneous architectural fashion known as castle romanticism (German: Burgenromantik), and Ludwig II's immoderate enthusiasm for the operas of Richard Wagner. In the nineteenth century, many castles were constructed or reconstructed; often with significant changes to make them more picturesque. Palace-building projects similar to Neuschwanstein had been undertaken earlier in several of the German states and included Hohenschwangau Castle, Lichtenstein Castle, Hohenzollern Castle, and numerous buildings on the River Rhine such as Stolzenfels Castle. The inspiration for the construction of Neuschwanstein came from two journeys in 1867 — one in May to the reconstructed Wartburg near Eisenach, another in July to the Château de Pierrefonds, which Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was transforming from a ruined castle into a historistic palace.
The king saw both buildings as representatives of a romantic interpretation of the Middle Ages as well as the musical mythology of his friend Richard Wagner. Wagner's operas Tannhäuser and Lohengrin had made a lasting impression on him. In February 1868, Ludwig's grandfather Ludwig I died, freeing the considerable sums that were previously spent on the abdicated king's appanage. This allowed Ludwig II to start the architectural project of building a private refuge in the familiar landscape far from the capital Munich, so that he could live out his idea of the Middle Ages.