A little ‘dream’ of mine has always been to travel to all neighbouring countries of Austria. This seems pretty easy, as Austria is so damn small. But we’ve got eight neighbours, we’ve got high mountains (sometimes a big obstacle for travelling), and let’s be honest – sometimes you just want to go someplace that is a bit more ‘exotic’, far away. Plus you always have in mind that at some time in the future you’ll travel to a neighbouring country anyways, right?
However, as this might be the last summer where I might be able to make good use of the ‘Sommerticket’ – a youth train ticket that allows you to travel through Austria for free during summer – I just had to take advantage of it and travel west, do some exploring there and pay a visit to some neighbouring countries. This is what brought me to our smallest neighbour: Liechtenstein.
Liechtenstein is a constitutional hereditary monarchy on a democratic and parliamentary basis, with Prince Hans-Adam II being Head of State. The country has the third highest GDP (adjusted by purchasing power parity) in the world. It is a microstate, with only 37,000 inhabitants and an area of 160 square kilometres. Vaduz – its capital – has a population of only 5,100 people.
Vaduz – City Centre
In order to get there we took a bus from Feldkirch in Austria, so we also got to see quite a lot of the country and its beautiful nature and mountains. We headed straight to the city centre of Vaduz and strolled along the ‘Städtle’ – the center and promenade in Vaduz, a pedestrian zone with shops, restaurants etc. We saw the Town Hall (constructed in 1923/33) with its beautiful facade, sat under a tree next to the newly built Parliament Building (2008) with a view to the Government Building (which has been the seat of the government of the Principality of Liechtenstein since 1905) and the neo-Gothic Cathedral (built 1868-73). All that plus the Vaduz Castle on top of a hill above the city and mountains in the background.
As the most prominent landmark of the city is the Vaduz Castle we decided to walk up the steep hill. The medieval castle was built in the 16th century and is the home of the reigning prince and the princely family. Unfortunately right at that time of the day it was extremely hot… not the best idea for walking up a hill (dressed in black) :D Nevertheless, we still enjoyed the view and were on the lookout for princes, but none showed up -.-
On our walk down from the castle we decided to take a walk through Mitteldorf. Actually, we took a wrong turn and ended up there, but we wanted to go there anyways, so no harm taken. Mitteldorf (Central Village) is a historic village area of the city with narrow streets and lanes, ancient houses, and a beautiful view of the castle. The first notable building on our way there was the ‘Red House’, a house from the 15th century with a winepress extension from the 17th century. Pretty impressive, huh? Also, on our stroll through Central Village we saw quite a few mansions that kept us wondering and dreaming about retiring in Liechtenstein.
Even though that Vaduz (and Liechtenstein in general) is such a small place and there’s not that much to see or do in comparison to other capitals, it was definitely totally worth the travel! One thing that I regret not doing was walking to the Rhine river and sit there and look over to Switzerland. Only after leaving the country we realised that you could actually see Switzerland from all over the place and the Rhine was the boarder to Switzerland… But now I’ve got another reason for going there again ;)