It is clear that much in Schwangau revolves around the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. But there is still a lot to know about the Ostallgäu community.
- Schwangau in the Eastern Allgaeu lives mainly on tourism around the royal castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau
- The Tegelbergbahn and the Ammergauer Alps attract hikers and climbers
- Schwangau’s history dates back to Roman times
- With the ForggenseeAlpsee, Schwansee and Bannwaldsee are four bodies of water on a municipal area of 76 square kilometers
Schwangau royal castles – world-famous tourist magnets
With up to 250,000 overnight stays per year in peak years, tourism is by far the most important economic sector in Schwangau. 1.4 million visitors a year visit Neuschwanstein Castle alone – in the summer more than 6,000 people pass through the fairytale king’s castle every day. Although never completed, Neuschwanstein was opened to the public just seven weeks after King Ludwig II’s death in 1886. Today the castle belongs to the Free State. Bavaria and it is probably the most famous show in Germany.
Hohenschwangau Castle is located a little lower than Neuschwanstein on a rock above the picturesque Alpsee. In 1832 the Crown Prince Maximilian bought the castle and had it converted into today’s palace. The Museum of the Bavarian Kings is located directly on the Alpsee below Hohenschwangau. There, visitors can experience the history of the Wittelsbachs and the Bavarian kings.
Schwangau’s history dates back to Roman times
Since appropriate tools have been found on the northern shore of the Bannwaldsee, historians assume that Schwangau was settled as early as the Middle Stone Age. The Via Claudia Augusta, built under the Roman emperor Claudius, crossed the Forggensee, now embanked, and connected northern Italy with southern Germany. In 1934 the foundations of a Roman estate were discovered at the foot of the Tegelberg. In 1966 and 1996, workers unearthed other remains of Roman buildings during the construction of the Tegelbergbahn and summer toboggan run.
Schwangau was first mentioned in a document as “Castrum Swangowe” in 1090. This meant the double castle Vorderschwangau and Hinterschwangau – on the rock of today’s Neuschwanstein castle. The fairytale king Ludwig II of Bavaria had the latter built on the site of the double castle from September 1869 according to the plans of Dominicus Quaglio. Schwangau has been a recognized health resort since 1926 and received the title of “health resort” in 1986.
Schwangau in the Ostallgäu: inhabitants, geography and administration
Schwangau currently has just over 3,300 inhabitants. The main village is located about 800 meters above sea level, the highest point of the community is the Hochplatte in the Ammergau Alps at 2082 meters. Schwangau borders the city to the west feet A. The Austrian one is already in the south Tyrol, east of the municipality of Halblech. The districts of Alterschrofen, Brunnen, Erlisholz, Hohenschwangau, Horn, Mühlberg, Schwangau and Waltenhofen belong to Schwangau. The total area of the municipality is 76 square kilometers. The municipality lost a quarter of its area due to the damming of Lake Forggensee in 1953.
Before 1972 Schwangau belonged to the district of Füssen, since the reform of the local government it now belongs to the district of Ostallgäu. CSU politician Stefan Rinke has been mayor of Schwangau since May 2014. As a co-candidate, he received the CSU, the Free Vote and the Free Village Community 95.2 percent of the votes. The town hall and tourist information are centrally located on Münchner Straße 2.
Mountains, huts and excursion destinations in Schwangau
Schwangau’s local mountain is the Tegelberg with the Branderschrofen as its highest elevation, the Branderschrofen. Those who fear the climb can take the Tegelbergbahn, which covers an altitude difference of 892 meters. It was built in 1968 and has been extensively modernized with new cabins since 2019. When the flight time is good, hang gliders and paragliders depart from the Tegelberg. There are regular competitions.
Other famous mountains in the municipality: Hochplatte (2082 m, the highest altitude in the Ostallgäu district), Hoher Straußberg (1933 m), Alpleskopf (1905 m), Gabelschrofen (1989 m) and Krähe (2010 m).
Hikers have many shelters to choose from, all easily accessible via access roads. The Drehhütte (1225 m) is about 350 meters in altitude. In winter you can sled down to the valley and the refuge is also a popular destination in summer. The Rohrkopfhütte is just a few minutes’ walk away and can also be reached via the Schutzengelweg from the Tegelbergbahn (1,320 m.). Across the Pöllattal you reach the Bleckenau refuge. King Maximilian II had it built around 1850 as a hunting lodge and weekend home.
If you are still fit, you can continue the hike to the Jägerhütte (1422m). The journey time from Hohenschwangau is approximately three hours. All the aforementioned destinations are easily reachable also by mountain bike. You can also make a stop on the Tegelberg, i.e. in the Tegelberghaus (1707 m) and at the mountain station of the Tegelbergbahn. Mountaineers can let off steam on the via ferrata “Gelbe Wand”, “Tegelbergsteig” and “Fingersteig”. Tips for via ferratas can be found here.
Schwangau: Four lakes in the municipal area
Schwangau shares the Forggensee with its neighbors Füssen and Roßhaupten. With an area of 15.2 km², it is the fifth largest lake in Bavaria and the largest water basin in Germany in terms of surface area. The lake got its name from the former hamlet of Forggen, which was flooded during construction. The lake is drained during the winter, so you can visit the remains of the settlement. Due to its size, water sports enthusiasts and especially sailors find themselves on the Forggensee.
However, bathers and pool lovers are also attracted to the picturesque Alpsee, on whose north-western shore there is a small bathhouse. The Schwansee, which shares the view of the royal palaces with the Alpsee, is also popular. There is a campsite at Bannwaldsee in the east of the community.
Pöllat gorge, thermal baths, St. Coloman: other hotspots in Schwangau
A famous photographic motif is the baroque church of San Colomano, which is located directly in front of the main town in the middle of the meadows. The church was built in the 17th century on a previous building in honor of San Colomano. The Irish pilgrim is said to have rested at this very point of his journey to the Holy Land. The Colomansritt takes place every year to commemorate him.
The Pöllat Gorge below Neuschwanstein Castle is closed due to the risk of rock falls. The protected hiking trail up to Neuschwanstein Castle offers visitors a spectacle: the Pöllat falls deep there, popular photo motifs are the numerous smaller and larger waterfalls. The latter also applies to the Marienbrücke, which leads south of Neuschwanstein Castle via the Pöllat stream. Although the Marienbrücke has recently been refurbished, it will remain closed until autumn 2022 due to structural problems and further construction work.
Those returning from trips and excursions can relax in the Kristall Therme Schwangau. There is bathing fun in the healing thermal water and a wellness offer from sauna to massages. Always in sight – how could it be otherwise in Schwangau – are the royal palaces and the Tegelberg.
Read also: Where can I park near Neuschwanstein? What is the best way to get to the castle? How much does it cost to park in the royal palaces of the Allgäu? All information and costs here.