For 900 years Vaduz Castle has enjoyed a front-row seat to the sights and sounds of Liechtenstein’s tiny capital. The proud home of the Liechtenstein royal family since the 12th century, it’s had a room with a view so to speak. But only one the billionaire prince and his family get to see.
Overlooking the beautiful Rhine River and the Swiss Alps, Vaduz Castle, otherwise known as Schloss Vaduz, is closed to visitors, except for one special day of the year.
Nonetheless, you can still get a sneak preview of what lies behind its centuries-old walls. We’ve ventured into Vaduz Castle to share what Prince Alois and the Liechtenstein Royals get to see every day.
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Vaduz Castle history
Mention of Vaduz Castle was first recorded in history in 1322. Its enviable role at the time was as a fortress to control the trade routes on this crucial passage of the Alpine Pass. Later, in 1712, the Liechtenstein family, a noble family from Lower Austria, took a fancy to the castle and made it their official residence.
In subsequent years, Vaduz Castle fell into disrepair as wars raged around it and the Liechtenstein family left their favoured abode. However, we have Prince Franz Josef II to thank for restoring it to its former beauty in the 20th century. He returned in 1939 and declared it his family’s official residence once more.
Step inside the grounds of Vaduz Castle
It’s unlikely you’ll get to peer beyond the imposing gates of Vaduz Castle today. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a glimpse of the treasures that lie behind its walls.
See if you can spot the bergfried (the keep) on the eastern side. This tall medieval tower, dating from the 12th century, is the oldest section of the castle. The western side of the castle was developed later, reflected in its Baroque-era architecture.
The inner courtyard area is where the royal family reside today. And across the courtyard, in the southern wing of Vaduz Castle, you’ll find the Chapel of St Anne.
In addition to being filled with priceless works of art, this is also the private chapel where the royal family attends weekly mass and the venue where the government of Liechtenstein are sworn in.
Behind the walls of Vaduz Castle
The interior of Vaduz Castle comprises some 130 rooms. These are divided into different apartments and are used by the various members of the royal family.
Sadly, the family sold some of the castle’s valuables after World War II to boost the cash-strapped principality’s coffers. However, many precious artefacts remain. Eagle-eyed visitors, lucky enough to gain access to the interior of Vaduz Castle, could spot invaluable works of art, particularly from the Renaissance and Baroque eras.
Vaduz Castle is open to the public only one day a year
Understandably, the Liechtenstein Royals prefer to keep their home private. But on one special day of the year, lucky locals and visitors gain a glimpse of the interior of Vaduz Castle.
Liechtenstein’s National Day, or Staatsfeiertag as the Liechensteiners know it, is celebrated on 15 August. This is the much-anticipated day that the hallowed quarters of Vaduz Castle are opened. Well, at least the gardens are.
The day usually kicks off with an official reception on the lawn followed by a drinks reception in the castle’s rose garden. The public can enter free of charge, provided they have obtained an online ticket. Following these festivities, a fireworks show takes place in the city centre.
The best views of Vaduz
Despite not being allowed beyond its gates, the castle is a still a must on any Liechtenstein visitor’s itinerary.
Along the way, you can stop and catch your breath at the viewpoints. There are also well-detailed boards revealing the castle’s and area’s history. Once you’ve reached the top, you’re equally rewarded with sweeping views over the city and mountains beyond this tiny principality.
And, if you don’t make it to the top, you’ll see the castle pretty much from wherever you find yourself in the capital. With its strategic elevated vantage point, it’s a reassuring landmark that guards the capital.
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You may not be able to enter the centuries-old walls of Vaduz Castle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t admire it from afar when you next visit the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein. And, if you choose to ascend to its crowning vantage point, there’s the royal reward of epic views over the Rhine River Valley and the snow-frosted Alps beyond.
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Have you visited Vaduz Castle? Explored its hidden nooks and crannies or been one of the privileged few to glimpse its interior? We’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below…