Vaduz, Liechtenstein – capital of the double-landlocked micro-state 2

Europe has plenty of micro-states, but for some reason it’s double-landlocked Liechtenstein that most often comes to mind when discussions are had as to which is the tiniest and obscurest of European nation states. What does Liechtenstein have going for it? And is Vaduz, the capital, worth a visit?

The road to Vaduz, Liechtenstein

The road to Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

The founding of Vaduz

Vaduz was founded in 1322 CE by the Counts of Werdenberg who erected a castle (a modified version of which still remains) on a prominent ridge above the Rhine River valley.

The Werdenbergs, who still have a castle and town named after them in Switzerland, were destroyed by ongoing feuding in the 15th Century, which culminated in the Swabian War of 1499; Vaduz Castle was sacked in the war and the town burnt to the ground.

Vaduz Castle, Liechtenstein

‘Vaduz Castle, Liechtenstein’ by Michael Gredenberg. Available at under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence. Full terms at

The Liechtenstein Family

In the 17th Century, the House of Liechtenstein, who already possessed large tracts of land in Austria, decided what they really wanted was a seat in the Reichstag (the legislative body of the Holy Roman Empire). This meant acquiring land not already commanded by the Imperial throne.

In 1699 they procured the Lordship of Schellenburg, and in 1712 they bought the neighbouring Countship of Vaduz.

Countryside around Vaduz, Liechtenstein

Countryside of Liechtenstein. Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

In 1719 the lands were officially combined and awarded principality status. The new nation state was named after the family that had brought it into being: Liechtenstein.

The House of Liechtenstein had their seat in the Reichstag, but they had no real interest in the nation state they had just created. Decades would pass before any member of the Liechtenstein family would set foot in the country. It took 120 years before one of the Liechtenstein princes was willing to live there.

Vaduz, Liechtenstein

‘Overlooking the city of Vaduz, taken near Vaduz Castle’ by Zjtaylor. Available at under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International licence. Full terms at

Is Vaduz worth a visit?

Vaduz is a pleasant city set in an attractive alpine landscape. It’s tiny, with a population of just 5,000, and it’s one of the few capital cities in the world that lacks its own airport (Thimpu, Bhutan is another); the nearest airport is 120 kilometres away in Zurich, Switzerland. More transport info here.

There isn’t much to do the city (the castle isn’t open to the public), and it does not stand out from – and you could say it is less impressive than – many similar cities in Switzerland and Austria.

If you have time constraints, then Vaduz, Liechtenstein is probably a city you can skip without feeling too much regret. But if you are on a mission to visit the world’s two double-landlocked countries (the other is Uzbekistan), then visiting Liechtenstein is a must. 🙂

Posts on Central Europe:


Salzburg – home to Mozart, the von Trapps, and the railway?


Český Krumlov – hamlet with cutesy-pie Disneyland-esque styling 


Neuschwanstein Castle – it’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in the flesh


A winter hike to Morskie Oko

Zakopane – what to do if snowed in for three days

Warsaw – a near-total reconstruction of a capital


Bojnice Castle – medieval castle with a Romantic skin

Trenčín – defender of the White Carpathians

Spiš Castle – where they filmed Dragonheart


Ljubljana – dragons, salmon pink churches, and really old wheels


Montreux – home to Freddie Mercury and other notable artists

Or visit my crappy capital city page.

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