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Phespirit goes to Liechtenstein
Vaduz     July 2004

En route from St Anton am Arlberg in Austria to Werdenberg & Appenzell in Switzerland, Phespirit whiled away precisely one hour and forty four minutes in the prinpicality of Liechtenstein - plenty of time to make comprehensive assessments and sum up the entire nation.

The entirety of the nation is not much. At 160km2, it is only a third of the size of Andorra, and a mere 6% of the size of Luxembourg, itself not a European colossus. On the other hand, it is two and half times the size of San Marino, Monaco and Vatican City put together so ..... well, it's still really small. Really, really small. Phespirit stopped to look around the capital city, Vaduz (population: less than 6,000).

Vaduz Castle, dating back to the twelfth century, is the sturdy, compact residence of the Royal Family of Liechtenstein. Fifteen minutes of vigorous walking is all that is required to ascend from the western end of Städtle - the pedestrianised centre - to the home of Sovereign Prince Hans-Adam II. Of course, the Prince does not want the likes of Phespirit ruining his carpets so admittance is strictly forbidden. But the walk is still worthwhile for a superior view of the castle exterior and for a good panorama across Vaduz.

The "Parish Church / Cathedral St Florin" is located at the eastern end of Städtle. Like the castle and the country as a whole it is not imposing or ornate or of profound international significance, but sits snugly in its setting, is aestetically pleasing and somehow enriches the bigger picture simply by being. The interior is painted mushroom grey, its aisle windows are a mosaic of pastel diamonds in mauve, green, grey and brown, whilst its altar windows are a rich kaleidoscope of primary colours. All very nice.

Along the length of Städtle is an array of gift shops selling Liechtensteiner and Swiss branded goods. The tourist information centre is also here, plus the Liechtenstein National Art Museum which Phespirit would very much liked to have visited had more time been on his side. But his time, like Liechtenstein, was brief and precious, so Phespirit left one of the world's tiniest sovereign nations with plenty still to be explored if ever he should manage a return trip.

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