The 39 Clues


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Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein is a castle in southern Bavaria, in Germany, commissioned by Ludwig II, also known as Mad King Ludwig. He wasn't crazy! He just liked opera a real, real lot. You ask me, dude, that's the definition of crazy. It opened to the public after Ludwig's death in 1886 but was not completed until 1892. The design of the castle was inspired by the operas of German composer Richard Wagner, whom King Ludwig greatly admired. The legend of Lohengrin, the Swan Knight, was especially influential and gave the castle its name. The beautiful fairy-tale look of the place inspired Walt Disney to copy it for Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland.

Many of the rooms are based on the heroes of ancient German sagas, which also inspired Wagner's operas. The Winter Garden and Stalactite Grotto, both with waterfalls, pay homage to the opera Tannhäuser; the Great Chamber and the Byzantine Throne Room acknowledge Lohengrin; the Singer's Hall and paintings in the gallery celebrate the opera Parsifal. The Throne room has no throne! King Ludwig was cheated out of power before the throne could be built. Cheated out of power?!? You mean lost his crazy mind! I mean murdered—his death was no accident. Sure, sure, keep telling yourself that. Would you two please cut it out? Some of us are trying to learn facts here! Ha ha, good luck with that, buddy.

Though the décor and look of Neuschwanstein are medieval, its amenities were surprisingly modern and included running hot and cold water, flush toilets, electricity, a hot air heating system, and elevators to bring food up from the modern kitchen. Historians say that King Ludwig built the castle as a place where he could hide away from the world. Ludwig built that castle to hide something really important. His first loyalty was not to Bavaria but to some super-powerful secret group. In that case, he deserved to be kicked off the throne. The king's first loyalty should be to his people, not some secret society. Secret society—you mean like the Masons? The Masons? Don't make me laugh. This is bigger than that—way bigger.

King Ludwig was declared "paranoid" and unfit to rule by a psychiatrist named Bernhard von Gudden. What a crock! He was deposed and his uncle took over the throne. Not long afterward, Ludwig and Dr. von Gudden were found drowned in a lake south of Munich. Some mystery surrounds this death, but the official explanation is that Ludwig committed suicide by drowning, and Dr. von Gudden drowned in an attempt to save the former king. Witnesses reported hearing gunshots—Ludwig was shot, not drowned, and von Gudden was shot because he was a witness. Yeah, but who shot him? That's the question of the century, isn't it? Next you'll be telling us Sleeping Beauty was in on it, too, 'cause she wanted that castle for herself. Now you're just being stupid.