What's with all the swans? One actor in Valhalla asked me the other day. I wish I had a good answer - aside from the fact that because of its obvious beauty and elegance, the swan had long been a favored emblem of European nobility; nobles across Britain, Germany and France wanted swans in their moats and peacocks pecking at their lawns. There seems to have been a "perfect storm" of swan imagery around Ludwig II, however. The name of his childhood home, Hohenschwangau, literally translates as "High Swan District," and it overlooked the Schwansee (yes, "Swan Lake"), a natural habitat for the birds (see photo below). The foundation of Hohenschwangau had also been built centuries before by the Knights of Schwangau, or the Swan Knights (see lower post); it's not so strange, having grown up in this environment, that Ludwig should have been especially drawn to the mythical Swan Knight Lohengrin.
For a lovely 360-degree panorama of the Schwansee today, go here.
Hohenschwangau Castle at left, Schwansee at upper right.