Walt Disney, filmer of fairy tales and builder of dreams, admired this late 19th-century building so much that he modeled Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle on it.
But the renowned German landmark’s name — Neuschwanstein Castle — isn’t widely known to many Americans, nor does it flow easily off an English speaker’s tongue.
Nearly 1.5 million people annually visit this “65,000 square foot work of art” nestled in the idyllic German Alps in Schwangau, Bavaria, Germany. Constructed as a private residence for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, and mainly designed by him as well, how fitting and Disney-esque that he was known as “The Fairy Tale King.”
Sadly, he died only weeks after moving into his new home.
And what a dream home it was! The architectural style is deemed “castle romanticism,” meaning that Ludwig copied the best of medieval castles he’d seen across Europe. As a lover of German composer, director and conductor Richard Wagner, Ludwig also incorporated Wagnerian themes of myth, music, poetry and romance, both architecturally and through interior design, furnishings and artwork.
Construction began in late 1869 and continued until 1886 when Ludwig moved in, although it still wasn’t completed. However, even unfinished, its grandeur sparkles (although some have deemed it “overwrought, garish, and kitschy”). A 13-foot chandelier hangs in what was to be his throne room. But there are many smaller chandeliers located throughout the castle that provide a coruscating kaleidoscope of colors.
Empty walls or plain floors? Hardly! Mosaics add beauty and story to the floors of many rooms. Pillars, archways and columns provide visual appeal. Silk and gold draperies, rugs, wood paneling, murals, sculptures and incredibly ornate and plush furniture abound.
Art is everywhere. The attention to even the littlest detail is inspiring, and certainly one thing that caught Walt Disney’s eye when he visited in 1955.
The fourth floor — Singer’s Hall — is long and open, originally intended for banquets and parties, and would’ve served ideally for great waltzes and dances. There’s even a stage that fills one end of the room. As one writer said, “The Singers Hall being the pièce de résistance of the tour, I was left speechless.”
How much did even an incomplete Neuschwanstein Castle cost? Over $55 million in 2021 dollars. It drove the king into bankruptcy and earned him another moniker: “The Mad King.” How sad that he never got to fully enjoy the fairy tale castle of his dreams.
However, Neuschwanstein Castle pales in comparison to the glories of Heaven and God’s house, designed and built by the Eternal King of kings and Lord of lords — Almighty God Himself.
Jesus Christ promised His disciples in John’s Gospel: “In My Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare you a place.”
The apostle Paul hinted in 1 Corinthians: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” Or, to put it plainly: Heaven is amazing beyond our wildest dreams! You don’t want to miss it.
John’s Book of Revelation records the symbolic vision of Heaven and the City of God that Jesus showed him, but the apostle found human words woefully inadequate to describe it.
The cubic structure and size alone of New Jerusalem is staggering: 1,380 miles. While this number isn’t mean to be taken literally, it’s to show us that Heaven far exceeds anything and everything on earth. We can only imagine!
Kitschy? God don’t do kitschy! The outer wall is constructed with jasper; every kind of precious gem and jewel covers and adorn it, including sapphires, emeralds, onyx and topaz. Twelve gates control access, each formed by a single, enormous pearl! The heavenly streets are made of gold. In fact, everything is made of pure gold!
The river of the water of life flows eternally from God’s throne down the middle of the city’s street, with ever-yielding fruit trees lining its sides. The Son-shine of God’s glory continuously fills Heaven.
There’s no hunger, no want and no night. What else isn’t in Heaven? Sin, sickness, sadness, pain, sorrow and death. Heaven is forever perfect because the perfect God is forever there.
Will you be there? Jesus said He was the only way to Heaven: “I’m the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Christ also promised, “Whoever believes in Me and is baptized will be saved.”
Is Jesus preparing a mansion for you? His promise is still in effect today for those who’ll accept it. If Jesus is your Lord, you can sing, “I’ve got a home in Glory Land that outshines the sun; way beyond the blue. Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh do remember me!”