Ludwig von Schwanthaler
Burg Schwaneck, or Castle Schwaneck, is the dream come true of a man who refused to grow up, of a man who believed in the romance of the Middle Ages: his name was Ludwig von Schwanthaler, and he was a sculptor. In early 19th century Munich he and his friends re-enacted the feudal world of knighthood and minnesong. Among these reborn knights, one drank to each others health, wielding heavy beer stones over dark, massive oak tables. One adopted an ancient pen name (Schwanthaler called himself “Storchenauer”), wore medieval costumes and watched olde-worlde lyrical dramas – in short, it was modern to cheer the good old times – which back then was enough to shock their contemporary philistines. In his everyday life Schwanthaler was a much celebrated artist who enjoyed the patronage of Ludwig I, King of Bavaria.
König Ludwig I
Because of his merits as an artist (Schwanthaler had, among many other works, created the bronze Bavaria, now to be admired on Theresienwiese in Munich) the king knighted Schwanthaler. With the title came a plot of land in Pullach, a little village south of Munich, above the Isar river and with a nice view of the Alps. There the sculptor wanted his castle built, starting out with splendid blueprints. The money disposable, however, turned out to be more limiting a factor than Schwanthaler had envisioned, so the grand castle shrivelled down to basically the square tower building still visible today with its octagonal staircase annex and a battlement wall all around. In 1843, the castle was officially opened with a mock siege. In the years to follow, it served as a backdrop and playground in many knight games. Schwanthaler could not enjoy his castle for very long, since he died already in 1848. Schwaneck fell to his cousin, later to his cousin’s heirs.
In 1863, Karl Mayr Ritter und Edler von Mayerfels bought the castle and began soon to add new buildings and reconstruct the existing. Mayr was also a great fan of the Middle Ages and collected everything about it. He commissioned the round tower and the predecessor to the hall now known as Knight’s Hall.
Artist Edith Wentworth-Dunbar
The next owner of Burg Schwaneck was the English painter Edith Wentworth-Dunbar, who had been drawn to Munich by its lively arts scene. She and her sister inhabited Burg Schwaneck until shortly before the turn of the century, enjoying the view of the Isar valley and the mountains all the while. They did not add new walls to the castle but were avid growers of vegetables and fruits in the rambling gardens.
Jakob Heilmann, a wealthy construction entrepreneur, turned Schwaneck into a representative and comfortable family estate by adding a five-story residential building. He modernized the knight’s hall and had a drawbridge installed at the main gate. Thus reinforced, Burg Schwaneck became a hub of social life again.
Heilmann died in the 20s; Schwaneck fell to his son, Otto. In the years between the wars and after the end of World War II nothing was added to the compound - maintaining the place was difficult enough. As a family estate Schwaneck was no longer needed, and not much else was happening, when out of the group of heirs the impulse came to turn Burg Schwaneck into a center for the county’s youth.
Landkreis (country) München
In 1955 Landkreis (county) München purchased the castle and handed it over to Kreisjugendring München-Land. The opening was reminiscent of its very first opening: more than 2000 boys and girls put the castle under siege – and then conquered it for themselves.
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