Saturday, May 30, 2015

Tracing the Liechtenstein Roots

These days for most people Liechtenstein is a rather obscure tiny Principality somewhere between Austria and Switzerland (if they know it at all). However, the territory now known as Liechtenstein hasn't always had this name. In fact, the Principality takes its name from the family that rules it, the House of Liechtenstein. On 23 January 1719, Emperor Karl VI issued a decree stating that the lordships of Vaduz and Schellenberg were to be united and elevated to the dignity of principality with the name "Liechtenstein" in honour of "[his] true servant, Anton Florian of Liechtenstein".
The roots of Princely Family thus do not lie in the Principality now bearing their name but instead in Austria, south of Vienna to be exact. In the town of Maria Enzersdorf, you can still find Burg Liechtenstein, the family's ancestral home. Literally "bright stone castle", it is just one of many castles and palaces still owned by the Liechtenstein family in Austria. Some of them I visited during my recent stay in Vienna, which you might well be aware of when you also follow my other blog, Castles & Co.
For today's post here on Luxarazzi, I will chronicle all my visits to the Liechtenstein sights during my Viennese adventures starting with the Burg Liechtenstein. As I visited rather late in the day when coming back from a daytrip to the Wachau region, the castle was already closed for visitors. However, it was still nice to see the ancestral home of a family I have learned so much about (and continue to learn even more about) for the past few years.
The Burg Liechtenstein, just as about every other building covered in this post, has recently been extensively renovated by the Princely Family and got a new roof, for example. However, it remains a seriously old building dating back to the 12th century and as such you are not allowed to walk along one of the castle's sides due to the danger of falling rocks.
Opposite the Burg lies the Schloss Liechtenstein. Originally a manor and farmyard, it was rebuilt as a summer residence by Prince Johann I of Liechtenstein between 1820 and 1821. These days, it is a (probably rather posh) retirement home.
Onto one of the places I actually visited the inside of, the Gartenpalais Liechtenstein in Vienna's Alsergrund distict. And well, even after seeing it in person, I think it's still my favourite of all Liechtenstein palaces.
It's located in a rather small but lovely park combining both French and English aspects of landscape architecture. Too bad it was never intended to be a place to live but instead one to partey. Not that I don't mind a good party but I just think it would be a rather nice place to live.
Visiting the Gartenpalais was also quite an experience. Earlier in the day, I had been to Schloss Schönbrunn and I don't think I had ever seen so many tourists in my entire life trying to squeeze themselves into one room during a tour. This was the absolute opposite. Sure, it's a little more expansive but you are even welcomed with a glass of bubbly!
Plus, there are lots of nice things to see, like the Golden Carriage of Prince Joseph Wenzel I in the Sala Terrena. Many of the rooms also include pieces from the Princely Collection of the House of Liechtenstein though you are understandably not allowed to take pictures of those.
Considering that I liked the Gartenpalais so much, I wouldn't mind to live there, this might just be the place to live pour moi: The Sommerpalais Liechtenstein located on the opposite end of the park. These days it actually is an apartment building... you could - in theory - live there but I guess that the practical things, like the money to be able to afford it, would let those plans fail miserably.
Also located nearby and visitable for free is the parish church of Lichtental. It's the patron church of the Princely Family, which is also quite famous for being the place of baptism of composer Franz Schubert.
Less spectacular from the outside is the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein though do not allow yourself to be deceived. It might look like a rather normal building from the outside - well, for Viennese standards, that is - ...
 ...and still doesn't look too fancy when you are standing in the courtyard... of the first signs that something special awaits you might just be the princely coat of arms inset in the street lamp.
Et voilà: Gold, gold, and more gold in the palace's grand hall. Legend has it that even Prince Alois II of Liechtenstein (1796-1858) thought that there was just a little too much gold in this room. And so the putti in the room's corners aren't gilded in an attempt to have just a little less gold in the room.

In case you'd like to read a little more about my time in Vienna, Bratislava, Melk and a few other places around the Austrian capital, head over to Castles & Co...