This might be a surprise to some of you, but Liechtenstein is one of the least visited countries in Europe (source: Huffington Post), averaging just 55,000 visitors a year. A lot of people would get a wrong idea about this Alpine principality based on this fact, they might think – “well there’s not much to do there”. But in fact, they are wrong and let me tell you why.
Liechtenstein is charming. Not only the surroundings (nestled between Switzerland and Austria, it offers many incredible views over mountains), but also some of the most stylish modern art museums, wineries, ski-resorts, fresh air and very importantly – not many other tourists. What can be better than spending a weekend in a place that is 2504 km across, which means you can literally drive across the whole country in less than 20 minutes, and not encounter any queues or groups of unpleasant tourists ruining your trip? In addition to that, it is only couple of hours away from Zurich, which makes it so convenient to reach!
OK, let’s have a look at a brief history of this miniature country.
History of Liechtenstein
The history of what we know as Liechtenstein today started in the fifth millennium before the Common Era. As the Roman Empire conquered most of Europe during the first half of the millennium, the area in which the country is situated now was part of it too. Much later, years after the collapse of Roman Empire, in 1342 County of Vaduz and Dominion of Schellenberg were established and soon incorporated into the German Empire.
County of Vaduz and Dominion of Schellenberg were unified in 1719 by Emperor Karl VI creating a new Imperial Principality called – Liechtenstein.
The miniature state has been a target of foreign armies a few times in history. During Napoleon Bonaparte’s era, French troops occupied and kept it in their administration until 1806. That year Napoleon acknowledged that Liechtenstein is one of the founding members of the Confederation of the Rhine and declared it as an independent country.
In 1923 Liechtenstein accepted Swiss franc to be the official currency. Even though the country managed to stay neutral during both World Wars, these conflicts had a negative effect to the economy and it only started thriving in the post war era.
Currently the country is ruled by His Serene Highness Prince Hans Adam II. In fact, he is Europe’s richest monarch, owning one of the world’s finest art collections and is worth about $5 billion.
Today Liechtenstein is the 6th smallest country in the world – the population of the whole state is around 40,000 people and it is only 6 kilometres (3,7 miles) wide and 25 kilometres (15,5 miles) long (!). However, despite of its size, this miniature state is absolutely stunning – especially the capital city Vaduz. Surrounded by hills, the capital of Liechtenstein has only around 6,000 residents and is actually the second largest city in the country (the largest one is Schaan with a population of around 6,500 inhabitants) .
This miniature capital has a car-free centre which makes it perfect for tourists to explore and inhale the beauty of it. Mixture of contemporary and medieval structures, complemented by museums, restaurants and bars create a remarkable contrast and make many visitors fall in love with this city. In order to help tourists see the best spots, officials have built a miniature city train which takes visitors past idyllic vineyards, the famous breathtaking Vaduz Castle and a few other spots where you can buy souvenirs or take stunning photos of Vaduz’ panorama.
- Vaduz Castle. This iconic castle constitutes on a side of the hill and overlooks the city. Using a path from Vaduz centre leading up to the castle visitors can climb up and have a closer look. Unfortunately, it is not open to public as it is still a home to Liechtenstein’s royal family.
- The Liechtenstein Museum of Fine Arts. This famous museum is located in the centre of Vaduz and exhibits many modern art masterpieces.
- Prince of Liechtenstein Winery. There are many vineyards in this small country but the best know is certainly the one located in Vaduz. Prince of Liechtenstein Winery is tourists’ favourite as it offers the widest selection of wines to taste and purchase.
If you are planning a trip to Vaduz do not forget to book a hotel in advance by clicking here (Booking.com). Also, if you require more information about tourism in Liechtenstein you can visit their official website by clicking here.