History of the Liechtenstein Alps

Topographical map of the central Alpine chain

The history of Liechtenstein is the history of the Alps in which it lies. The two major forces in the area - the mountains and the river Rhine have shaped the country, culture and people.

Up to the middle ages, the mountains were wondered and feared. The summer provided materials such as timber in the forests, but wild creatures roamed the dark woodland. Because of the swampy valley floor, travel was only possible on the foot of the mountains, following the Roman road, now called the "Fürstenweg", but this was often washed away, so travel was not easy.

The mountains were dangerous throughout the year, and many myths grew about them. Legends also developed to support some of the names of the peaks, such as the "Drei Schwestern" (Three Sisters).

The mountains opened up somewhat with the arrival of the Walsers, immigrants from the south-western canton of Vallis (Wallis) in Switzerland. They were mountain people and knew how to clear the forests and farm the slopes.

The logo of the Wildmändli Guggenmusik, depicting the Wild Mountain People of LiechtensteinOne myth applies to the hidden valley (as it was) of Steg and Malbun. The pastures were fertile and summer grazing sought after. But at the end of summer, the farmers had to prepare the winter sheds and often left their animals to the mountain people - the Wildmändli (Wild men) - thought to be a small Yeti-like people who lived in the caves around Malbun. If they were not well rewarded, however, the Wildmändli would leave the animals at the first sign of snow, causing the deaths of many of the prized cattle.

The mountains now offer year-round recreation - the ski resort of Malbun is very popular during the winter, and the mountain paths and restaurant are well used during the summer.


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