Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel

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.

Painting inside the Rathaus (Town Hall) in Feldkirch, Austria, shows the town around 1650

Painting inside the Rathaus (Town Hall) in Feldkirch, Austria, shows the town around 1650

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

Heiligkreuz bridge leads to houses built on a rocky outcropping aside the River Ill in the

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

Historic St. Johann Church anchors one end of Marktplatz in the medieval Old Town of Feldkirch, Austria

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!

Idyllic countryside farms dot lush green valleys that are tucked between soaring mountains in Liechtenstein

Idyllic countryside farms dot lush green valleys that are tucked between soaring mountains in Liechtenstein

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

Vaduz Castle, the palace and official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein

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

The Eclectic Architecture in Vaduz, Liechtenstein includes The Red The Red House, a gabled stairs structure with a large tower that contains the living quarters

Click on title to view photo in large format. The eclectic architecture in Vaduz was one of the biggest surprises of Lichtenstein. Shown in this photo is The Red House, a gabled stairs structure with a large tower. The house is named for the dark red color that has adorned its exterior since the 19th century. Another example of unusual architecture in Vaduz can be seen on the trail to the castle of the Prince of Liechtenstein. Halfway up the hill, a contemporary house is topped by a wooden latticework that resembles a giant set of vertical blinds. Read More