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Vaduz History, Liechtenstein

With a little over 5000 inhabitants, Vaduz is one of the smallest capitals in the world. Actually, the entire population of the Principality of Liechtenstein is close to 35000 inhabitants, which doesn’t stop Vaduz from constituting a major touristic attraction. Although most tourists come here for the sake of the surrounding ridges of the Alps, Vaduz history and landmarks shouldn’t be neglected.

Vaduz History – The Medieval Castle of Vaduz

Vaduz is almost 8 centuries old: the most widely accepted theory is that the Counts of Werdenberg built a castle on the site of the present capital of Liechtenstein at the beginning of the 13th century. However, archeological and historical discoveries indicate that the first settlement was established around the 5th century AD. The original name of the settlement seems to have been ‘Fardusez’ a name of Rhaeto-Romanic provenience, but has been spelled as ‘Vaduz’ since the 14th century. It the centuries that followed, the small community continued to prosper: a royal charter issued at the court of Emperor Rudolph II in 1592, grants Vaduz the right to own a market.

Vaduz History – The Liechtenstein Dynasty

The most important event in Vaduz history (and Liechtenstein’s history as well) took place in the 18th century, when the Liechtenstein family (of Austrian descent) bought the countship of Vaduz from the Hohenem family. This purchase was less an economic transaction but rather a political move: it allowed Anton Florian de Lichtenstein to become the sovereign of the newly formed state (principality), realized by the union of Vaduz and Schellenberg (in those times, Germany was a union of autonomous states, formally known as the Holly Roman Empire). It was also when Vaduz became the capital of the county, where the royal family only established their residence centuries later. It is one of the great paradoxes in the history of Liechtenstein that no sovereign prince lived or even visited the country before 1842.

Vaduz History – Contemporary Vaduz

The impressive Vaduz Castle overlooking the town only became the official residence of the princes a century later (1938); even if Vaduz wasn’t affected very much by the two world wars, the Liechtenstein dynasty lost much of their possessions and fortune.

Across the 20th century, Vaduz history didn’t quite follow the pattern of massive industrialization which characterized many of Europe’s capitals (just for the sake of contrast, see London History or London Travel Guide, for example). The city doesn’t even have an airport or railway station, but thousand’s of tourists come here every year to admire Vaduz landmarks, the snowy peaks of the Alps and to taste the famous Vaduz wines.

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