Click on title to view photo in large format. The Vienna State Opera is perhaps the most iconic building in the Austrian capital. The Neo-Renaissance Opera House was the first major structure on Vienna’s Ringstrasse. Construction began in 1861 and was completed in 1869. Interestingly, the building was not initially popular with Viennese. Sentiment changed, however, when it suffered substantial damage from Allied bombing during World War II. Read More
Feldkirch, Austria. I’d never heard of it and had no plans to visit. I ended up in this sub-Alpine village for one reason only; it was the easiest and least expensive way to visit Liechtenstein. Not knowing how long that would take I booked two nights, but by the end of the first day, I’d seen more than half of Liechtenstein. As I rolled into bed that night back in Feldkirch, I wondered what I would do with a full extra day.
The next morning I woke to brilliant sunshine. The surrounding hills sparkled with clean green pines and cottony clouds scooted through crisp blue skies. I grabbed my camera and headed out to explore. At the pretty Town Hall I learned that Feldkirch, Austria was established by Count Hugo I of Montfort around 1200. Each of the 50 farms at the base of the mighty Schattenburg Mountain was required to deliver one cartload of manure each year to ensure the Montfort vineyards thrived. Thus the Count’s list of suppliers – the Mistrodel – (literally the “manure list”), became the town’s first census of residents. It was just the first of many intriguing stories I would hear about Feldkirch. Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format. Just a short walk from the historic center of Feldkirch, the Heiligkreuz Bridge leads to these “Im Kehr” listed houses. Built atop a rocky outcropping, they perch precariously over the torrential River Ill. Lest you think I exaggerate, one of the houses plunged into the river on Easter Sunday in 1965. Fortunately, Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format. Historic St. Johann Church anchors one end of Marktplatz in the medieval Old Town of Feldkirch, Austria. The devil is said to have dragged Faust through the skylight and down to hell from this church. A fresh market sprouts up on Marketplatz every Tuesday and Saturday morning. Additionally, the street hosts a wine festival during the second week of July each year. Read More
Had I not been on a mission to visit every country in Europe I surely would have bypassed the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein. But I needed it to complete my list, so I decided to ride the Bernina Express train up and over the Alps to Chur, Switzerland. On the map, just a few miles separated Chur from the Liechtenstein border. From there, I figured it would be a breeze to hop over to the capital of Vaduz.
I spent the next couple of evenings scouring the Internet for ways to get there. I could take the train to either Sagens or Buchs, Switzerland, then catch a bus into Vaduz. Alternatively, I could stay in one of the Swiss towns and visit Vaduz on a day trip, but given the sky high prices in Switzerland, I was anxious to leave. Unfortunately, when I searched for accommodations in Vaduz, the least expensive option was a hotel room for $150 per night. Yikes!
I threw myself on the mercy of the sympathetic manager of the Post Hotel in Chur. “There are not many hotels in Vaduz, so they’re expensive. Have you thought about going to Feldkirch instead?” Back to the laptop I went. I learned that Feldkirch is a small village in Austria, located less than two miles east of Liechtenstein. Buses run every 10 minutes to Vaduz and take only 30 minutes to get there. Even better, I found a room in a historic hotel near Feldkirch’s historic city center for $50, including breakfast. Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format. The first Vaduz Castle was built as a fortress in 1130. Much of this original structure was destroyed by the Ottomans in 1683. When reconstruction finally began 200 years later during the reign of Prince Johann II, it stayed faithful to the original Romanesque style. The old medieval walls can still be seen on the main floor and lower levels. Today the castle is one of the rarest 12th century Romanesque secular buildings still in existence in Europe. Read More