In 1866 Bavaria had lost a war against Prussia and was forced to accept a "defensive and offensive alliance", which removed the king's right to dispose over his army in case of war. Bavaria's Ludwig II was no longer a sovereign ruler. In 1867 he began planning his new kingdom, in the form of his castles and palaces, where he could be a real king.
Ludwig II wrote his friend, Richard Wagner: «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); this castle will be in every way more beautiful and habitable than Hohenschwangau further down, which is desecrated every year by the prose of my mother; they will take revenge, the desecrated gods, and come to live with Us on the lofty heights, breathing the air of heaven».
The foundation stone of the "New Castle" was laid on 5 September 1869. The Gateway Building was constructed first, and Ludwig II lived here for a number of years. The topping-out ceremony for the Palas was not until 1880, and the king moved in in 1884.
Seven weeks after the death of King Ludwig II in 1886, Neuschwanstein was opened to the public.