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Neuschwanstein Castle (German: Schloss Neuschwanstein, lit. New Swan Stone palace, pronounced [nɔʏˈʃvaːnʃtaɪ̯n]) is a 19th-centuryBavarian palace on a rugged hill near Hohenschwangau and Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned byLudwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner, the King’s inspiring muse. Although public photography of the interior is not permitted, it is the most photographed building in Germany and is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Ludwig himself named it Neue Hohenschwangau; the name Neuschwanstein was coined after his death.

The reclusive Ludwig did not allow visitors to his castles, which he intended as personal refuges, but after his death in 1886 the castle was opened to the public (in part due to the need to pay off the debts Ludwig incurred financing its construction). Since that time over 50 million people have visited the Neuschwanstein Castle. About 1.3 million people visit annually, with up to 6,000 per day in the summer. The palace has appeared in several movies, and was the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty Castle (1955) at both Disneyland Parkand Hong Kong Disneyland.

In 1923 Crown Prince Rupprecht gave the palace to the state of Bavaria, unlike nearby Hohenschwangau Castle which was transferred to the private Wittelsbach Trust (Wittelsbacher Ausgleichfonds), which is administered on behalf of the head of the house of Wittelsbach, currently Franz, Duke of Bavaria. The Free State of Bavaria has spent more than €14.5 million on Neuschwanstein’s maintenance, renovation and visitor services since 1990.