OUR CASTLE STORY

BY TERRY AND KIM YOUNG

Imagine, a panoramic view of the Bavarian Alps with snow covered mountaintops lined with country houses with oversize balconies and red geraniums pouring over richly carved wooden rails.  Immense wall paintings depicting scenes from the Catholic belief still practiced regularly by most Bavarians. Now add to this fairytale setting, Neuschwanstein Castle built by King Ludwig the Il, and you find yourself in a wonderland. You most likely have seen Neuschwanstein Castle before; it inspired Walt Disney to design Disneyland. Neuschwanstein, like an eagle’s nest, oversees the Hohneschwangau valley to Germany’s North, while the backside is protected by steep mountain ranges.

In Bavaria, which is now part of Germany, King Ludwig Il was born in August 1845. Ludwig was to become King in 1864 at the age of 18 when his father died suddenly. At the time of his coronation in 1869, Bavaria was a parliamentary monarch much as England is today. Ludwig had a passion for art, architecture, construction, and music. The King had inherited an immense family fortune and saw no value in hoarding the funds in the bank, but rather decided to spend massive sums of money in the development of his interest, which included the employment of the Bavarian people and the development of the arts in his country. Ludwig was sometimes known as the mad King of Bavaria.

A plan for Neuschwanstein, the fairytale castle, was completed in 1868 and the foundation was laid in 1869. The Neuschwanstein castle project footprint is just shy of half an acre at approximately 19,466 square feet. The longest line in the project is 426 feet. The building footprints cover 8,366 square feet. This castle was under construction, continually for 17 years and was 75% completed outside and 25% complete inside, at the time of Ludwig’s death in 1886 at the age of 41. Over a million people currently visit Neuschwanstein castle yearly. 

On top of Neuschwanstein, Ludwig had many other projects he was planning.  He even found time to design gardens, grottos, furniture, and was a patron for the great German opera composer Wagner.  Wagner, who employed a set designer by the name of Christian Jank, also became a personal artist for Ludwig and developed the artistic renderings and elevation drawing of Ludwig’s palaces and castles.  Both Ludwig and Jank were designing a new, more spectacular project they would call, Castle Falkenstein.

In the fall of 1995, Burnet, Texas businessman, architect and developer Mr. Terry Young and his wife Kim took a long-awaited European vacation.  One of the trip goals was to visit many of Europe’s great castles, and they were most excited about Neuschwanstein.  On their arrival at Neuschwanstein, the Young’s took the Standard English-speaking tour of the castle, which is fairly limited since only approximately 25% of the interior is complete. At the end of the tour the Young’s walked down a long gallery that led to the exit. In the gallery were many pictures and drawings of Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee, hung on the gallery walls.  Mr. and Mrs. Young who were familiar with most of King Ludwig’s building projects noticed that several of the drawings did not appear to be anything that the King had built and were very curious as to what these drawings were. The Young’s retraced their steps and found the young lady who had been their tour guide.  Even though the guide insisted these were some of the original drawings of Neuschwanstein, the Youngs asked if they could speak with the Castle Director. The Youngs were then introduced to the director who spoke very little English but explained to the guide that the Young’s were indeed, correct!  King Ludwig had been making plans to build another castle to be called Falkenstein. The castle was to be built approximately 20 kilometers from Fossen, which is the old town located just below Neuschwanstein.

Rendering of King Ludwig’s Falkenstein Castle

The director went on to explain to the guide and the Young’s that because of the disagreements over his construction projects with his uncle, King Ludwig had kept the Falkenstein project fairly quiet and had hidden the drawings in Neuschwanstein where they remained for many years after Ludwig’s death. The King had purchased a 20-acre dolomite rock hilltop where he planned to build the castle. This hilltop site was the site where the old dilapidated medieval castle Falkenstein lay in ruins.  The Youngs asked the director if they could be permitted to see the drawings in question. The director explained that he had only been director for eight months and the previous director had taken the drawings with him to work on a book about King Ludwig.  At the Youngs request, the director gave them the address in Lechbruch, Germany, where the former castle director now lived.  Because of the Youngs interest, the director and the guide gave them a complete tour of the remaining unfinished sections of the castle normally closed to the general public!  Terry and Kim were grateful and thanked both the Castle director and their guide.  After leaving Neuschwanstein, the Youngs proceeded to Lechbruch to locate the previous director. Once they arrived and finished explaining their interest, he was kind enough to make copies of the original artist rendering of Falkenstein Castle and other minor sketches.

On their return flight to the United States, Mr. Young looked lovingly at Mrs. Young and said, “Sweetheart, what would you think about spending the next ten years or so, building our own Falkenstein Castle in Texas?”  To which Kim Young smiled and replied, “Why not!”