Neuschwanstein 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 a 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 60 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.The municipality of Schwangau lies at an elevation of 800 m at the south west border of the German state of Bavaria. Its surroundings are characterized by the transition between the Alpine foothills in the south and a hilly landscape in the north that appears flat by comparison.In the Middle Ages, three castles overlooked the villages. One was called Schwanstein Castle.[nb 1] In 1832, Ludwig's father King Maximilian II of Bavaria bought its ruins to replace them with the comfortable neo-Gothic palace known as Hohenschwangau Castle. Finished in 1837, the palace became his family's summer residence, and his elder son Ludwig spent a large part of his childhood here.Vorderhohenschwangau Castle and Hinterhohenschwangau Castle sat on a rugged hill overlooking Schwanstein Castle, two nearby lakes, and the village. Separated only by a moat, they jointly consisted of a hall, a keep, and a fortified tower house.In the ninwteenth century only ruins remained of the twin medieval castles, but those of Hinterhohenschwangau served as a lookout place known as Sylphenturm.The ruins above the family palace were known to the crown prince from his excursions. He first sketched one of them in his diary in 1859.When the young king came to power in 1864, the construction of a new palace in place of the two ruined castles became the first in his series of palace building projects.Ludwig called the new palace New Hohenschwangau Castle; only after his death was it renamed Neuschwanstein.The confusing result is that Hohenschwangau and Schwanstein have effectively swapped names: Hohenschwangau Castle replaced the ruins of Schwanstein Castle, and Neuschwanstein Castle replaced the ruins of the two Hohenschwangau Castles.Neuschwanstein embodies both the contemporaneous architectural fashion known as castle romanticism, 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.The building design was drafted by the stage designer Christian Jank and realized by the architect Eduard Riedel.For technical reasons the ruined castles could not be integrated into the plan. Initial ideas for the palace drew stylistically on Nuremberg Castle and envisaged a simple building in place of the old Vorderhohenschwangau Castle, but they were rejected and replaced by increasingly extensive drafts, culminating in a bigger palace modelled on the Wartburg.The king insisted on a detailed plan and on personal approval of each and every draft.Ludwig's control went so far that the palace has been regarded as his own creation, rather than that of the architects involved.Whereas contemporary architecture critics derided Neuschwanstein, one of the last big palace building projects of the nineteenth century, as kitsch, Neuschwanstein and Ludwig II's other buildings are now counted among the major works of European historicism. For financial reasons a project similar to Neuschwanstein – Falkenstein Castle – never left the planning stages.The palace can be regarded as typical for nineteenth-century architecture. The shapes of Romanesque, Gothic and Byzantine architecture and art were mingled in an eclectic fashion and supplemented with 19th-century technical achievements. The Patrona Bavariae and Saint George on the court face of the Palas are depicted in the local Lüftlmalerei style, a fresco technique typical for Allgäu farmers' houses, while the unimplemented drafts for the Knights' House gallery foreshadow elements of Art Nouveau.Characteristic of Neuschwanstein's design are theatre themes: Christian Jank drew on coulisse drafts from his time as a scenic painter.The basic style was originally planned to be neo-Gothic but the palace was primarily built in Romanesque style in the end. The operatic themes moved gradually from Tannhäuser and Lohengrin to Parsifal.