The fairytale castle of Ludwig II
Anyone who thinks of Füssen in the Allgäu region thinks above all of the world-famous fairytale castle Neuschwanstein, built by the so-called fairy tale king Ludwig II. In the 19th century, his father Maximilian II built the Hohenschwangau residence at the foot of the mighty Säuling, where Ludwig had a large part of it Spent childhood and climbed one or two summits with his mountaineering mother Marie.
For this reason, Ludwig had it built on the rugged Pöllatfelsen directly opposite Neuschwanstein Castle, a dream of a medieval Grail castle turned stone with strong borrowings from the Wartburg, but equipped with modern achievements such as electric light and telephone. Not only the wide view into the country but also the extravagant interior furnishing offered the king refuge from court ceremonies and government duties.
Neuschwanstein: from debt trap to tourism magnet
But Ludwig, who among other things made a significant contribution to Richard Wagner's success as a patron, died under mysterious circumstances in Lake Starnberg in 1886 and had accumulated considerable debts at that time. After his death, the construction of his castles was stopped immediately, so that Neuschwanstein as well as Herrenchiemsee in Upper Bavaria remained unfinished.
Nevertheless, Neuschwanstein in particular soon became a tourist magnet after Ludwig's death. The two royal castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau attract well over a million visitors from home and abroad every year. In Neuschwanstein, these are passed through the castle every 5 minutes and in groups of 65 - with guided tours and audiguides in 15 languages. A logistical masterpiece that ensures that no group ever disturbs the other. I visited the castles in winter and found it pleasant. Unfortunately, because of snow and the risk of falling, the Marienbrücke with the famous view of the castle is closed.
Shopping and history in Füssen
Nevertheless, if all this is too busy, the region at the foot of the Alps has much more to offer: The historic city of Füssen is only 800 m above sea level at 15.300 m above sea level and has around XNUMX inhabitants on the banks of the Lech. It is also the crossroads of the "Romantic Road", "German Alpine Road" and the alpine transversal Via Claudia Augusta, which follows the Reichenstrasse, which with numerous street cafes invites you to linger in summer. The physical well-being is also taken care of, good and healthy food can be found, for example, in the "Hechten" or in the Lila Haus, a quite new gastronomic concept, which I unfortunately have not tried, is also pursued by the Ritterstube with vegan cuisine.
In general, the romantic old town of Füssen with its medieval streets, high Gothic gables, the old city wall and many church buildings from the Baroque and Rococo periods has a decelerating effect when strolling and impresses with rich art treasures from the more than seven hundred years of city history.
One of the largest Gothic castle complexes in Swabia
The imposing Benedictine monastery of St. Mang on the banks of the Lech is now home to the Museum of the City of Füssen, in which, in addition to splendidly decorated baroque halls, one of the most beautiful collections of historical lutes and violins in Europe can be seen. It recalls the importance of Füssen as the cradle of European lute making and violin making center in the 18th century. The former monastery church has one of the oldest frescoes preserved in Bavaria (around 980) in the eastern crypt.
On a mountain spur lies the Hohe Schloss, once the summer residence of the prince-bishops of Augsburg, city lords for almost five centuries. Its residence, which was completed at the beginning of the 16th century, is one of the largest and best-preserved late Gothic castle complexes in Swabia. It houses a branch gallery of the Bavarian State Painting Collections in the former living quarters of the bishops. Works of late Gothic and Renaissance art from the Allgäu-Swabian and Franconian regions can be admired here. Also worth seeing are the five-hundred-year-old illusion paintings on the facades of the courtyard, which are unique in Germany to this extent.
Center for lute architecture
Events such as the summer Kaisersaal concerts, the music festivals "Füssen goes Jazz" and "multifaceted", the traditional festivals on the old town squares and the cultural events in the Festspielhaus take place here regularly. Music has a long tradition in the city: Füssen gained outstanding importance in European music history thanks to its lute and violin makers. The first lute maker guild in Europe was founded here in 1562.
At that time, around 2.000 master masters worked in the town of Lech, which had around 20 inhabitants. In the Baroque period, Füssen then developed into the most important center of German violin making. In the 18th century alone, 80 violin makers were active in the city, whose instruments were in demand all over Europe.
Hike and slow down in the footsteps of King Ludwig
Short distances lead from the city to the districts in the countryside. The air and Kneipp spa town of Hopfen am See is considered the "Allgäu Riviera", the district of Weißensee is a mosaic of many small hamlets and fantastic views. Bad Faulenbach in the quiet Faulenbach valley is recognized as a Morrheilbad and Kneipp spa. From here it is only an hour's walk with a moderate climb through the picturesque valley of the senses to the almost legendary Alatsee. In the Alatsee restaurant, which has been awarded a Michelin Guide, you can fortify yourself on the way back with creative, good and healthy cuisine.
In general, hiking is my favorite deceleration method, and Füssen offers a number of options, even in the deepest winter. The Allgäu “Schlosspark” region around Neuschwanstein and Füssen is one of the most beautiful alpine holiday destinations and looks even more magical due to the snow and makes our hiking tour to Neuschwanstein Guide the competent hiking guide and King Ludwig Expert Erih Gößler for a special experience.
Walking and cycling in the castle park
So it went over the Maxsteg past Lechfall south of the old town of Füssen, where the river broke its way out of the mountains, past the Schwansee, which offers a great view of the royal castles when the visibility was clear, and finally past the 62-meter-deep Alpsee that inspires with different colors depending on the sky.
In addition to the royal castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau, one can also discover one of the oldest Allgäu castles in Germany, the highest castle ruin on the Falkenstein, where Ludwig II originally wanted to build another castle.
Certified route network
Füssen is the hub for some of the most beautiful long-distance hiking trails and long-distance cycling routes in southern Germany, so to speak on the favorite routes of the Bavarian kings: the European long-distance hiking trail E 4, the hiking and cycling route Romantic Road, the cycling route Via Claudia Augusta, the violet route of the Via Alpina, the Lake Constance-Königssee-Radweg and the Maximiliansweg lead through the city, since 2013 also the Allgäu cycle circuit and from July 2014 two routes of the new long-distance hiking network Allgäu hiking trilogy.
For cyclists, in addition to the ADFC-certified castle park circuit in the Allgäu, the castle and palace circuit that starts in Füssen is also recommended. In addition to the König-Ludwig-Weg, the Lechweg also ends in Füssen, which was the first long-distance trail to be awarded the European hiking seal of approval “Leading Quality Trails - Best of Europe”.
Active in summer and winter
The region offers more than ten lakes. The tour ships on the Forggensee (shipping season: June 01.06st - mid-October) and the waterfront at Hopfensee are box seats for the Alpine panorama. In summer there are numerous bathing bays and water sports, but I was particularly impressed by the winter landscape with the snow-capped mountain peaks in the south and the gentle hills and wide, flat snow areas in the foothills of the Alps.
Because Füssen offers a good offer for cross-country skiers and snowshoe hikers if the snow conditions are suitable. Ski tourers will find attractive summit destinations in the Ammergau Alps and the winter sun-drenched Hopfensee is a hot spot for ice sports enthusiasts.
Healthy sleep with a scientific foundation
But Füssen is also a Kneipp spa and, in addition to many other options for health-conscious guests, offers the Kneipp-based prevention program "Healthy sleep through inner order", which has meanwhile also been recognized as an eligible compact cure. Around 100 subjects have already tested the new prevention program as part of a study by the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich (LMU). The study results show that it brings about significant improvements in sleep quality, well-being and chronic stress. Almost half of the participants still felt a noticeable improvement effect six months after completing the program.
Therapy focuses on the “inner order” propagated by Sebastian Kneipp. Because the Allgäu naturopathic pioneer was not just the “water doctor” who prescribed cold water and baths for his patients. Above all, he wanted to bring them closer to a healthy lifestyle, with which they could keep the balance between their own resources and external requirements in everyday life.
Sleep better with certified sleep hosts
In addition, 14 hotels, guesthouses and holiday apartment providers have been certified at various levels as specialized "sleep hosts", which offer their guests the opportunities for a good night's sleep. Of these, I looked at the Vitalhotel Wiedemann, the Biohotel Eggensberger, the Kurhotel Filser and the Wellnesshotel Sommer. The first three also offer spa treatments to their guests and have been certified as sleeping hosts at the highest quality level because they also offer their guests the opportunity for a healthy sleep. Depending on the quality level, all sleep hosts offer specially equipped guest rooms, whereby under certain circumstances only some of the rooms meet the corresponding criteria, as well as many services that are intended to ensure a restful sleep.
The new sleeping guide with information and tips is available in every room, there are pillow bars, sleep teas and measures to reduce electrosmog. There is also at least one trained sleep controller per company as the central point of contact for all questions and concerns relating to the topic. If a guest needs medical assistance such as a sleep screening or an appointment in the sleep laboratory, the sleep controller will make contact with the specialists and clinics.
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