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Summit Wives Transported Back to Fairy-Tale Times

July 7, 1992

HOHENSCHWANGAU, Germany (AP) _ Barbara Bush and three other First Ladies at the annual economic summit were transported today to the fairy-tale world of the Bavarian Alps.

The outing took them to some of Germanys’ prime tourist spots, including the haunts of tragic King Ludwig II and a remote church in an Alpine meadow.

Their first stop was Neuschwanstein Castle, an inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Palace at Disneyland and an icon of German tourist posters.

The castle was built in 1869 on orders of Ludwig - known to detractors as a ″mad monarch″ but to admirers as a fairy-tale king who only wanted peace.

Perched on a peak top, the gray granite castle rises to towers, turrets and pinnacles, recalling the days of Medieval knighthood.

″I love the background,″ said Mrs. Bush as she stood in the courtyard looking up at tree-covered cliffs shrouded in clouds. ″It’s just like home,″ she quipped. ″No it is really beautiful.″

Also with her were Hannelore Kohl, wife of the German Chancellor and host of the annual gathering of the world’s top seven leaders, Mila Mulroney and Diana Amato, wives of the Canadian and Italian prime ministers. The wives of French President Francois Mitterrand, Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa and British Prime Minister John Major did not come to Munich for the three-day summit of the world’s richest democracies.

Ludwig, who became king at age 18 in 1864, turned to building castles and palaces after losing a war to the Prussians in 1866.

The composer Richard Wagner was drawn to his court and his operas influenced some of Ludwig’s constructions.

The king’s extravagant projects cost millions and emptied the treasury of Bavaria. Ludwig spent only 170 days living in Neuschwanstein.

The unfortunate monarch was sent under house arrest to Starnberg Lake to be interned. The day after he arrived he drowned in the lake under mysterious circumstances.

The First Ladies were visiting another palace, Hohenschwangau, built at the foot of the promontory where Neuschwanstein is perched. Hohenschwangau, built by Ludwig’s father Maximilian II to resemble an English manor house, was the site for the First Ladies’ lunch.

It was there that Ludwig spent most of his youth and from where he watched the work on Neuschwanstein through a telescope in his bedroom window.

Following the castle tours, the First Ladies were flying by helicopter to a meadow church in the slopes of the Ammergau Alps in southwestern Bavaria.

The 18th century building was the crowning achievement of architect Dominikus Zimmermann.

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