Vaduz Castle is the palace and official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein. The castle gave its name to the town of Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, which it overlooks from an adjacent hilltop. The erstwhile owners - presumably also the builders - were the Counts of Werdenberg-Sargans. The Bergfried (keep, 12th century) and parts of the eastern side are the oldest. The tower stands on a piece of ground some 12 x 13 metres and has a wall thickness on the ground floor of up to 4 m. The original entrance lay at the courtyard side at a height of 11 metres. The chapel of St. Anna was presumably built in the Middle Ages as well. The main altar is late-Gothic. In the Swabian War of 1499, the castle was burned by the Swiss Confederacy. The western side was expanded by Count Kaspar von Hohenems (1613–1640).
The Princely Family of Liechtenstein acquired Vaduz Castle in 1712 when it purchased the countship of Vaduz. At this time, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, combined the countship with the Lordship of Schellenberg, purchased by the Liechtensteins in 1699, to form the present Principality of Liechtenstein. During the medieval days of the principality, the prince could have sought refuge in the castle from a potential peasant uprising.
The castle underwent a major restoration between 1905 and 1920, then again in the early 1920s during the reign of Prince Johann II, and was expanded during the early 1930s by Prince Franz Joseph II. Since 1938, the castle has been the primary residence of Liechtenstein's Princely Family. The castle is not open to the public as the princely family still lives in the castle.References:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.