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Published: November 28th 2016
Liechtenstein's most iconic sight.
Having walked around Innsbruck
all day, I arrived late in the border town of Feldkirch. I then just managed to check in to the hostel before the reception closed but people shouldn't be made to put on sheets and duvet covers in the dark when other people in the dorm sleeping - especially for the price being paid. All you wanna do after a long day and journey is to just get into bed.
The country which borders Feldkirch in the most western part of Austria is the pint-sized principailty of Liechtenstein. Like my visit to San Marino
earlier in the trip, there is a fascination and novelty value about visiting curious, almost unheard of, micro-states. And like my visit to San Marino earlier in the trip, I decided to do Liechtenstein as a day trip. For a start, it was way cheaper to stay in Feldkirch - there is little in the way of cheap accommodation in Liechtenstien, which uses the Swiss franc and like the country whose currency they have adopted, things are on the pricey side - from where there are buses every half an hour into the tiny principailty.
And it really is a pipsqueak principality. After crossing
Looking along the main drag through Liechtenstein's capital.
the border - and there is an actual border post staffed with border officers for which the bus slowed down but didn't stop (and thank goodness for that because I didn't have passport on me what with me being in the Schengen zone) - I checked Google Maps about ten minutes later and discovered that I was almost already on the other side of the country!
I had passed through the small rural towns of Mauren and Eschen before going through Schaan, the country's apparent financial and industrial powerhouse - well as much of a powerhouse as a town of 5,000 people can be - and five minutes later I was in the capital Vaduz, although for all intents and purposes, Schaan and Vaduz are effectively the same town.
Lording over Vaduz is the Schloss Vaduz, splendidly visible from just about every angle in town. It isn't open to the public however because it is where Prince Hans Adam II lives.
The story of how Liechtenstein managed to gain and then keep their sovereignty over the centuries is a complicated one. The country's name comes from the Liechtenstein family who acquired the territory in feudal times. Karl I of
Lovely, peaceful, traditional neighbourhood in Vaduz.
Liechtenstein was then made a prince by the Holy Roman Empire in the 17th century and then in 1718, the Holy Roman Empire then made Liecthenstien a principality, which in effect was how Liechtenstein first gained its sovereignty. It then became members of Napoleon's Confederation Of The Rhine and later, the German Confederation, before having full soverignty in 1866 when it left the German Confederation.
These days, Liechtenstein is a constitutional monarchy with Prince Hans Adam II as the head of state in the same way that Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state of the United Kingdom. The only difference however is that Queen Elizabeth's role is effectively ceremonial; in Liechtenstein, Prince Hans Adam II has the power to veto any law and dismiss any minister.
As is usual for European micro-state, Liechtenstein has relatviely low taxes and has been used in the recent past as a tax haven. The result is that Liechtensteiners have one of the highest standards of living in the workd and depending on who you talk to, has the highest or second-highest GDP per capita in the world. This wealth is apparent in Vaduz, with its clean streets and array of curious,
Rote Haus & Vineyard
Interesting house in the vineyard-drenched neighbourhood of Mitteldorf in Vaduz.
modern, cubic, glass buildings.
Seeing the nice apartments and houses in Vaduz really made me want to stay in one and not come out for ages. Again I had pangs for normal life when seeing the locals go about theirs. But I have 2-3 weeks of chilling in London coming up and therefore I think I will get over this phase of wanting a normal life again; especially once the excitement of going to India starts building!
The capital itself is tiny - you can walk around the whole town in twenty minutes.
Just to the north of the town centre is Mitteldorf, which was really nice - a peaceful, traditional neighbourhood completely surrounded by vineyards. There were some nice pictures to be taken here.
The only real attraction of note was the Liechtensteinisches Landesmuseum. Inside were exhibits on Liechtenstein's natural environment, the country's ethnography and archaeological findings. There was also a large exhibit on the Olympic Games, presenting memorabilia from down the ages, all the way from Ancient Greece to the modern games. The museum was very well presented but all the artefacts on display and their explanations were pretty generic - none of it was unlike anything
Schloss Vaduz Gardens
Beautiful autumn colours in the prince's residence.
else I have seen in museums around the world. I wanted more insight into the the country's history but I guess there just isn't much of it.
There is seemingly more to do in Liechtenstein - at least one more day's worth anyway - than I had imagined. The Walsermuseum in the nearby town of Triesenberg (mind you, pretty much everythig is nearby in Liechtenstein) documents the Walser tribe, a tribe from Germany who still speak their own unique dialect in certain encalves in the country is one; the 6km vertigo-inducing, rope-guided Furstensteig hike in the Liechtenstien mountains is the other. But I had to keep going.
Before I moved on, I walked around Feldkirch itself, which is quite pleasant - well, the Aldstadt is anyway. The rich houses tucked away in the hills were also nice but otherwise there isn't a lot going on. There isn't much more to the town; for me, it was just a cheap and convenient place to stop for me to visit Liechtenstein.
And then it really was time to move on as I caught the train to the last country that I will visit on this journey around Europe; Switzerland!
Landtag Des Furstentum Liechtenstein
The house of the legislatove body of Liechtenstein in Vaduz.
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