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A look at Vaduz Castle

Vaduz Castle towers 120 metres above the Liechtenstein capital it is named after and is currently the palace and official residence of the Princely Family of Liechtenstein. However, the castle predates the principality by many centuries. It was originally built as a fortress, rather than a castle that was lived in, in the twelfth century. Some of the lower parts of the walls to the keep, the oldest part are over twelve feet thick.

It is thought that living accommodation was added in towards the end of the thirteenth century, and the first written record of the castle is in 1322. The area of present-day Liechtenstein was often the scene of conflict in the Middle Ages as it lay close to the boundary between the Holy Roman Empire and the Swiss Confederacy. In fact, it was badly burnt in 1499 during the Swabian Wars, and no significant work was completed until the early part of the seventeenth century when it was extended on the western side by Count Kaspar von Hohenems.

Sadly, it was the founding of Liechtenstein that had a negative effect on the castle. The Principality of Liechtenstein was created in 1718 by Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI by uniting the lands of Vaduz and Schellenberg. This was basically to reward princes who had supported him and lacked authority in the Holy Roman Empire as they had no lands. The princes did not actually set foot in the land until the beginning of the nineteenth century when, following the defeat of the Holy Roman Empire, Liechtenstein came under the control of the French and later the Austrians. Vaduz Castle was not looked after and began to deteriorate.

Things did not look up for Vaduz Castle until the early part of the twentieth century and the reign of Prince Johann II, who reigned Liechtenstein for over seventy years between 1858 and 1929, beaten in length by Louis XIV of France. He organised a substantial restoration of the castle, though he never lived there, it was also during his reign and following WW1 that Liechtenstein changed allegiance to Switzerland.

Further works were completed by his grand-nephew, who took over when he died in 1938. Prince Franz-Joseph II was the first Prince of Liechtenstein to call Vaduz Castle his home, and he lived there for the entirety of his reign. When he died in 1989, his son Prince Hans-Adam II came to the throne and still lives with his family in the castle; hence, it is not open to the public. However, should you ever visit Vaduz, and I can recommend the ice-cream sundaes, there are extensive information and views of Vaduz Castle.

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