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How to pronounce Neuschwanstein Castle in English
Neuschwanstein is a formidable looking word to English speakers. Don't be put off by it's apparent difficulty: English is a Germanic language, after all, and once you find the echos of familiar English words, you will know how to pronounce Neuschwanstein without too much trouble.
The word is made up of three parts
- neu - this is German for new, and rhymes with 'boy'.
- Schwan is the German word for 'swan' - it's right there once you take the 'ch' out. Now add back the 'ch' and say 'shwan'. Easy, no? Finally to get it perfect, change the 'w' to a 'v' sound, so you say 'shvan'.
- Stein means 'stone' in English - again there is a reflection of the German word in the English. All you have to to is rhyme 'Stein' with 'mine'.
Once you break down the word into the 3 words which make it up, it simplifies the pronunciation of Neuschwanstein. In English, Neuschwanstein means 'New Swan Stone'. Neuschwanstein, which was commissioned by Ludwig II in the late 1860's on a site overlooking the village of Hohenwangau ( listen to the audio pronunciation) in Bavaria.
Schloß is the German word for 'castle' or manor home. It makes no difference to the pronunciation whether it is spelled with a German 'Scharfes S' or 'Eszett' (which looks like a Beta, but is most definitely not a Beta, so don't call it that unless you want to provoke the Germans) or with a 'ss' at the end. Both have the same sound - the hard 's' at the end of 'guess'. You pronounce Schloss like 'shloss' - exactly the same sound as the 'sch' in the 'schwan' part of 'Neuswanstein'.
Ludwig II was much taken with the Medieval period, and the design and art of Neuschwanstein were very much conceived as a romantic interpretation of that period of history, as well as a homage to Richard Wagner. Ludwig II wrote the following in a letter to Wagner about Neuschwanstein:
«It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights' castles, and I must confess to you that I am looking forward very much to living there one day (in 3 years); there will be several cosy, habitable guest rooms with a splendid view of the noble Säuling, the mountains of Tyrol and far across the plain; you know the revered guest I would like to accommodate there; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world. It will also remind you of "Tannhäuser" (Singers' Hall with a view of the castle in the background), "Lohengrin'" (castle courtyard, open corridor, path to the chapel);..»
Sadly Ludwig II was declared insane, and died in mysterious circumstances before Schloss Neuschwanstein was completed. The castle remains an abiding legacy to him, and homage to Wagner, and is considered the ultimate fairy-tale castle: Disney's castle is modeled on it.
The official Neuschwanstein site is here - on it you will find details of opening times, more about the history of it, and directions of how to get there.