Bavaria 70,549.44 km2 (approx. 27,239 sq. mi.) – Population 12.6 million (December 2011)
Bavaria is the largest (and independent) state in Germany – officially named Free-state of Bavaria; takes up 20% land surface. Its size is equivalent to the Province of Ontario.
As mentioned in previous posts, I’m only a hop from the Bavarian border and a short driving distance to some breathtaking sceneries.
Memmingen dates back to the Roman Empire and was in all likelihood the military garrison town named Cassiliacum.
The city played an important role during the Peasants’ War and the Thirty Years’ War. It was here that the Twelve Articles were written assuring human rights to the peasants. The document has served as a template for human rights around the world.
Memmingen became part of Bavaria in 1802. The present-day city boasts many medieval buildings that were spared the bombings of WW II. Its present population is around 41,13.
Nearby Memmingen airport serves as a hub for low-cost airlines. Unfortunately it proved unsustainable for the city and now only few low-cost carriers take off or land at Memmingen airport, most of them during peak holiday seasons. A pity considering how close Memmingen is to Ulm and other cities as opposed to Stuttgart or Munich airports. To give you an idea, Memmingen is about 40 kms (approx. 25 mi.) from my home, whereas Stuttgart is around 145 kms (approx. 87 mi.) and Munich 110 kms (approx. 65 mi.)
From my home-base to Schwangau is about one hour’s drive.
Who hasn’t heard of Neuschwanstein, the castle built by King Ludwig II, and the poster child – or I should say poster castle – of Bavaria. One can’t really live in the area and overlook a trip to Schwangau, where both Neuschwanstein and the older Hohenschwangau are located.
Hohenschwangau was a ruin rebuilt by Crown Prince Maximilian of Bavaria between 1832 and 1836.
It is here that Ludwig II spent his childhood and who knows, each summer when the royal family spent time at Hohenschwangau, Ludwig II may have dreamt of his own fairy tale castle. This fantasy would become reality in the building of Schloss Neuschwanstein.
King Ludwig II, nicknamed by some Der Marchenkönig or the Fairy-Tale King, by others the Swan King, and by others again, the mad king who committed suicide. I’m not entirely convinced that King Ludwig II was truly crazy and it isn’t quite clear how he came to his end. To be sure, as the castle and its elaborate interior testify, he was a genius, and maybe therein lies the accusation of his weakness of mind; in my opinion it was in fact sublime. Our dear composer Wagner didn’t exactly rush to deter Ludwig II from creating rooms representing the heroic protagonists of his Operas. The fact that the king lived in a world of perfection and heroism, depicted in the artistic themes of the grand rooms, didn’t do much to sway the opinions of the day. He was seen as an unfit ruler, whisked away to Berg Castle on Lake Starnberg where he then “accidentally” drowned in the on June 13, 1886. Intrigue and political expediency come to mind…
The mystery and myths will live on and continue to be a boon for Bavaria’s tourism industry.
King Ludwig II built several other castles but none as grand and magical as Neuschwanstein
Schwangau and surrounding areas are definitely worth visiting. The castles, nature trails, lakes and vistas are sure to offer both interesting and relaxing recreation activities.
As I just returned from visiting my Canadian side of the family, I shall share some highlights in my next post, along with economic impressions and how they compare to Germany.
Meanwhile, it has been a hot and fairly dry 35C in my area – just my kind of weather!
Until next time keep cool.