Coordinates / 47°08'42.0"N 9°33'14.0"E
Country / Liechtenstein
Region / Vaduz
Population / 5 100
Once upon a time, on Christmas eve, circumstances magically brought us to the tiny town of Vaduz , the capital of the small principality of Liechtenstein.
There are 7 microstates in Europe whose population should not exit one million. The biggest being Luxembourg with its population of half a million. The others being Andorra, Malta, San Marino, Monaco, Vatican and Liechtenstein.
There is no airport in Liechtenstein. Its territory is hidden in the Rhine Valley and nestled on the edge of the Alps. In our case, getting here necessitated taking advantage of the most punctual means of transport in the world (in the opinion of the Swiss) the train service of the Swiss Federal Railways from Zurich. But not everything was simple, there is no train station in the capital of the Principality of Liechtenstein. So anyone needing get here, must disembark the train in the town of Sargans and continue either by car or bus onto Vaduz, this adds an additional 30 minutes to the journey.
On Stadtle - the main street, we were lucky to meet a good-natured local, who told us a little about its history and its crime-free society.
It turned out that we are in Oberland, Upper Liechtenstein. And there is Underland, as you might guess from the name - Lower Liechtenstein, with its regional city Schellenberg. It should be noted that the total population of Liechtenstein is about 33,000 people, who speak German and use Swiss francs as currency. The kingdom is neighboured by Switzerland to the west and Austria to the east. The government is a constitutional monarchy, whose head of state is referred to as Prince Hans-Adam II.
Later, we were truly convinced about the peaceful nature of the city, since we only saw a couple of cars and a few walkers in a few hours. By lunchtime the main city square, distinguished by such supernatural peace and quiet so much so that everyone could hear the wind playing with the dark green ivy garlands on the walls of neighbouring streets.
The main attraction of Vaduz is the eponymous castle, located on a high hill, which is perfectly visible to all the townspeople living in its shadow.
From the castle windows, there must be breathtaking views of the surrounding area. However, to have such an opportunity, it is necessary to come here on August 15th which is when the National Day of the Principality of Liechtenstein is celebrated or to be the owner’s friend or get a personal invitation because it is not generally open to the public.
The first mention of Vaduz Castle originated in the Middle Ages, it is believed to have been built in the 12th century. The Liechtenstein family acquired the County of Vaduz in 1712, by that time, the family already had the Schellenberg in their possession. Due to these acquisitions, the Emperor Charles VI united the two neighbouring lands.
And so, in 1719 the Principality of Liechtenstein was established. " So you may think that’s why principality is divided into two regions of Oberland and Underland " – and would be right.
Along with the castle, which can be seen from all the city streets, there is the tall spire of the cathedral of St. Florin, built in the Neo-Gothic style.
Also, there is the modern Parliament building, called Landtag with an unusual triangular shaped roof.
The old government building, which previously housed the Landtag. There is a fairly wide range of museums in Vaduz such as National Museum of Liechtenstein, the Liechtenstein Art Museum and the Post Museum of the Principality of Liechtenstein and all these attractions are located on the main street - Stadtle.
We should say that besides tourism and various industries, one of the biggest incomes of the principality (around 10%), is the sale of postage stamps of Liechtenstein’s Post office. Some of these stamps are produced in very limited editions and distributed to only its subscribers. Thus, from time to time, Vaduz opens its doors to groups of philatelists from all over the world. To visit Post Museum of Liechtenstein online, click here.
Anyone taking a slow stroll along Shtedle street will notice a lot of statues of modern art dotted along the way. Thus, we see "Phoenix" by the artist Doris Bühler. Her "Phoenix" was influenced by ancient Egyptian mythology and she talks about the connection of the Phoenix with Osiris, the revival of nature, life cycles, the resurrection and life after death.
"Hochsitz" by the artist Robert Indermaur. Creating the masterpiece, the sculptor pursued some philosophical idea that man would do well to rise above the limitations of his routine life and escape with meditation, knowledge and investigation of the surrounding world.
The bronze horses, made by famous Swiss sculptor Nag Arnoldi. By the dramatic appearance of the horses, its textures and shapes, the sculptor emphasises the main theme of the sculpture the myth of the horse and the human split between joy and pain.
As with any Catholic city in Europe, Christmas in Vaduz would not be complete without a Christmas crib, which is nestled in the central square.
It is hard to call Vaduz a tourist mecca. Rather, this town is good for gourmet travellers, for those who want to tick the box "I was here" on the atlas with the inclusion of the microstates. It is easy to doze off, lazily catching the sun on the quiet and tranquil main street of Vaduz and wake up to notice one's wallet, expensive photo equipment or Swiss watch in the same place as they were left. Vaduz is ideal for those who wish to find a suitable refuge from the hustle and bustle of modern life with Alpine peaks.