Customers on the special evening tours paid €20 each and the tour guide was given an extra €20, no matter how many people were on the tour. Prosecutors argued that the payments constitute fraud, since the money should have gone into the coffers of the Bavarian State which owns the castle.
However, a former director of the site who was called to testify told the court that Neuschwanstein had long been the scene of irregularities in management.
"There was an entrenched self-service mentality," said Hubert Nikol, who served on the board until 2012. "Vehicles were always missing from the castle's transport fleet," he said in comments reported by Bild newspaper.
Another unnamed former employee also told the paper of "wild parties" after closing time, including in the giant throne room. "You name it, it happened there," he said.
Neuschwanstein was built by the last king of Bavaria, Ludwig II, in the foothills of the Alps in the late 19th Century. It was intended to romanticize the Middle Ages and the operas of Richard Wagner, but the king enjoyed his folly for only six months before his suspicious death at a nearby lake in 1886.
It also gave the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland, and featured as ‘Baron Bomburst’s Vulgarian castle’ in the 1968 movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The trial continues in mid-July.