Ludwig II saw the Swan Knight, at that time not yet inspired by Richard Wagner (1813-1883), as a child on a mural in the banqueting hall of Hohenschwangau Castle, built in 1832-40 by his father.
King Maximilian II (1811-1864) had the scene of Lohengrin’s appearance and therefore of the saga moved to Alpsee in Hohenschwangau: on the mural you can clearly see the Lechtal mountains in the background. Ludwig loved this scene. The swan is a constantly recurring theme in his father’s castle, inspiring Ludwig’s art in many respects. It was the historical heraldic animal of the lords of Schwangau. Maximilian II saw himself as their successor and had adopted the coat of arms. His son followed suit.
As a result, the swan also appears heraldically in Neuschwanstein, partly in combination with the medieval coat of arms of the Count Palatine of the Rhine, who Ludwig II still was in name, and the House of Wittelsbach’s lozenge coat of arms. He became acquainted with Wagner’s »Lohengrin« on 2 February 1861 at the Munich Court Opera and was completely enthralled. Resulting in Ludwig II creating a typically romantic merger between the real lord of Schwangau and the fictitious swan knight Lohengrin.
Uwe Gerd Schatz