Zurich day two
23.05.2017 - 23.05.2017
Switzerland - Liechtenstein - Austria - Liechtenstein - Switzerland
Today was all about 'collecting countries' as we managed to visit three in one day. Indeed, by midday we were already in our third!
Walensee from the train
We took a train (expensive, as is everything in Switzerland it seems) from Zurich to Sargans and from there a bus which took us through Vaduz in Liechtenstein (to where we would return later) and on to Feldkirch in Austria.
The scenery on both journeys was fantastic, especially the views of Lake Zurich and the Walensee from the train. The latter was a particularly beautiful shade of deep turquoise as it is fed by several glacial rivers and streams.
From the bus too we had some lovely views, passing through several tranquil villages in rich farmland, with hills and mountains all around and the occasional castle perched on a ridge. The most impressive of these was Burg Gutenberg which we passed just after crossing the Rhine which here forms the border between Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
On arrival in Feldkirch we had a light lunch in a café - I enjoyed a salad and a small beer, and it was quite a pleasant change to pay Austrian, rather than Swiss, prices for these!
The café was one of several in the Marktplatz where a market was indeed taking place. This had unfortunately more or less packed up by the time I finished eating and went to take photos of the activity but there was plenty more to photograph including a lovely old church by the market (Sankt Johann), with its fresco depicting St John the Baptist preaching a sermon, and the unusual figure of a knight known as the Bläsi who has rung the bell to tell the townspeople the time since 1510.
The church was unfortunately closed, so I only have photos of the exterior.
With the one still-open market stall
The town retains much of its medieval character here in its centre but just behind the church we came across a very different style of building which divided opinion – some finding it too incongruous for this historic setting and others (me included) rather liking its striking architecture and clean lines. This is the Montforthaus, a culture and congress centre which was opened in 2015.
In contrast the castle, Schattenburg, has been perched on a hill above the town for almost 800 years.
We strolled along the picturesque streets, where there were plenty of the small details I always love to photograph, including some attractive murals on some of the buildings. The large figures on the town hall (Rathaus) depict scenes from the town’s history.
There were also a number of religious statues on otherwise secular buildings – I noticed several of the Good Shepherd in particular which perhaps reflects the town’s rural, agricultural surroundings. The statue of the rather fierce knight, in contrast, is on a fountain just below the castle.
We went into the cathedral, Dom St. Nikolaus, which was light and airy, looking more modern than its Gothic origins would suggest – perhaps due in part to its beautiful modern stained glass, the work of local artist Martin Häusle.
From here we returned to the bus stop by the intriguingly named Katzenturm or Cats’ Tower, so-caled because the cannons it used to house were nicknamed cats! It was built on the site of an earlier tower by Emperor Maximilian and today contains a large bell which is rung every Friday at 3.00 pm (the hour of Christ‘s death) and on church holidays.
From Feldkirch we caught the bus back to Vaduz in Liechtenstein where we were greeted with the impressive sight of the castle where the Princely Family still lives. We had drinks in a café on the main street before splitting up to explore.
This is an attractive, almost unnervingly well-maintained town centre with some attractive modern sculptures and several sights of interest including what looked like an interesting art gallery which there was no time in our schedule to visit. The town hall has some striking murals and a plaque marking the very brief visit of Goethe to the town “from 1 to 2 June 1788 on his way back from Italy”.
Steve and I found a place offering to put a (meaningless but fun) stamp in our passport for 3 francs (or euros) - something tangible to show for our extravagant but lovely day out. We also made a brief visit to the postal museum (really probably only of interest to avid stamp collectors – we didn’t linger).
Of more interest was the beautiful government building which dates from 1905 and is the official seat of the government of the Principality of Liechtenstein. Nearby is the parish church of St. Florin, built in 1873, but with buses back to Sargans running only once an hour we decided not to linger any longer as we wanted a more restful last evening back in Zurich.
Government building and St Florin's church
So Steve, Yvonne and I together retraced our steps via bus and train back to Switzerland and to Zurich. There we stopped off at the ticket office in the station to buy our train tickets for the journey to Kempten tomorrow.
In the evening we decided not to get a full meal but instead went to the Rathaus Café by the river's edge to drink and enjoy the views – though we did get tempted by the excellent olives and reasonable pizzas once there! We had a super relaxing evening together - a lovely way to end our time in Zurich.
Sunset over the Limmat (Rathaus Café on the far right)