Crown Prince Maximilian II of Bavaria, Ludwig II's father, had the ruined castle of Schwanstein rebuilt from 1832 into the "Gothic style" of Hohenschwangau Castle. The young Ludwig was influenced by the romantic mountain scenery and the summer castle became one of his favourite places to stay.
Hohenschwangau Castle was decorated with scenes from medieval legends and poetry, including the legend of the swan knight Lohengrin. Ludwig identified himself when still a boy with Lohengrin, to whom Richard Wagner dedicated a romantic opera in 1850.
The swan was also the heraldic animal of the Counts of Schwangau, whose successor the king considered himself to be. Maximilian II had already made the swan a leitmotif of Hohenschwangau. Idealization of the Middle Ages was thus combined with concrete local tradition.