Saturday, September 16, 2017

[FELDKIRCH] That Medieval Town Next to Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein was supposed to be the highlight of this itinerary, but I think I liked Feldkirch more. And so Feldkirch became the highlight; Liechtenstein, the side trip. In any case, visiting both cities in one weekend is doable. Liechtenstein Bus 11 connects the two. The journey is around 45 minutes and costs CHF4.30 (~PHP235). You can pay the driver directly in either Euros or Swiss Francs. The stop in Feldkirch is at the main train station. In Vaduz, you get off or get on at Schaan or Vaduz Post.

The last time I was in Austria was in 2014 when I attended a summer German course at the University of Vienna. Go to Innsbruck, they said. Go to Salzburg, they said. But I never left the capital. I guess now we can say that I’ve been to both sides of the country, what with Wien lying close to the Slovak border in the far east and Vorarlberg being the nation’s westernmost state by the border with Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Feldkirch is not the capital of Vorarlberg, but the medieval small-town feel is charming.

Coming from Freiburg, I needed to make two Flixbus journeys of around two hours each: Freiburg to Zürich with a stop in Basel; Zürich to Feldkirch with a stop in St. Gallen. I did some research beforehand, but Wikitravel didn’t have much information. Perhaps the best thing to do is just get lost in the alleys and hills of this small town. From the Hauptbahnhof, just turn left at the main street. That will lead you straight to the old town in less than 10 minutes, on foot. As for me, I made a mini detour.

You will notice how the town is surrounded by mountains enveloped in mist. It gives the area a mystic kind of feel. Since the difference in architectural styles among the buildings is rather obvious, it’s easy to imagine which were already there during the medieval period and which were not. Now envision yourself back in the 1200’s, surrounded by those mountains with only some of those old structures around you. I guess that’s what I loved about Feldkirch. I felt like writing a medieval mystery novel impromptu just by being there.

Back to gallivanting, I noticed a not so medieval building stalking me from the hills. It had a cross so I supposed it was a church, but later found out that it’s a school for children. The building is relatively new, constructed around 1900 or so. What it lacks in age, it makes up for through its elegance. Its position on the hillside also makes it an unavoidable sight, as opposed to the medieval structures which are concentrated mostly on the flat plain that is the town center. The view of the town below is quite nice.

The higher up the hill you go, the better the view. The thing is, most of the properties there seem residential and obviously private. I did manage to get on a balcony of some random house because there was no gate. I wonder if the owner saw me and if that was considered as trespassing? But I suppose the Austrians on this side of the country are hospitable enough. If there was someone there, of course I would have asked for permission first. After that, I went uphill for a better view before heading down to town.

There is a huge park had I gone farther up, as well as a zoo or something. From the hillside, you also have a good view of the river and some cliffs here and there.  I eventually ended up at the old town. It’s not as big as I thought it would be, but fascinating anyway because it’s just so peaceful. It’s one of those towns where I can gladly spend a quiet weekend, but not go as far as moving there for good because I know it would bore me to death. It was charming nonetheless, even though the weather was terrible.

As for things to see, there’s the Montfort House, a medieval tower or two, some churches, and the Schattenburg castle on the opposite hill which has been converted into a museum. That’s where I spent most of my time after lunch. Halfway across the hill, you’ll find a big tree with a bench under it. From there you have a mesmerizing close-up of the town center with all the tourist attractions in one frame. I spent around an hour just sitting on that bench. Tranquility at its finest!!
[FELDKIRCH] That Medieval Town Next to Liechtenstein

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