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Liechtenstein, a stamp kingdom that earnestly “does business”

  In fact, since the issue of the world’s first stamp “Black Penny” in 1840, stamps have long since been separated from their traditional use as postal fees and have become works of art and collectibles. Many countries have also issued various stamps with commemorative significance and artistic value. , To record important events and highlight achievements. There is a country whose stamps are well-known for their exquisite designs, which have attracted stamp collectors all over the world. The stamp industry has even played an important role in the country’s national economy, accounting for about 10% of its fiscal revenue. Called the destination of stamp collectors, this is the “land of stamps”-Liechtenstein.
  There are many “pocket countries” in Europe: the Vatican, which is famous for the Roman church, Monaco, which is famous for the rich and the Formula One car race, and Luxembourg, which is famous for its castles… And this seldom mentioned Liechtenstein is for the people. In other words, perhaps the most impression is only the occasional “upset” of football matches. Liechtenstein and Uzbekistan are the “only two” dual landlocked countries in the world, that is, the country is a landlocked country and all its neighboring countries are also landlocked countries. It can be said that they are very unique in the world’s geography. Liechtenstein and Saudi Arabia are the only remaining countries in the world named after the royal family.
  The reason why Liechtenstein is called “the country of stamps” is firstly because its stamps are world-famous, and secondly because the country has an area of ​​only 160 square kilometers and a population of less than 40,000. However, this country is “rich and rich.” “Oil”: In 2017, the per capita GDP (GDP) reached 170,000 Swiss francs, or about 180,000 US dollars. This number dwarfs a series of world “rich countries” such as Luxembourg and Qatar, but Liechtenstein is too small to be included in the statistics, otherwise it will definitely “dominate the list all year round.”
  In Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, you can see Vaduz Castle on the hill from wherever you look up. This is the castle of the Duke of Liechtenstein, so it is also called Liechtenstein Castle. Vaduz Castle was built in the 12th century AD and has a history of more than 800 years. A highway circled up past the castle built on the mountainside, forming a beautiful picture with the snow-capped mountains behind it. It’s just that it’s not open to tourists at ordinary times. It’s only open for one day on the National Day of Liechtenstein on August 15 each year. The Liechtenstein family still lives here, but historically, this family has not lived in their own country for a long time.
Buy a “school district house” that joins the council

  Some people joked that Liechtenstein was the “school district” of the Holy Roman Empire. As we all know, many countries in the world have the concept of school district housing, which means that only if there is a house in a certain school district, children in the family are eligible to enter the corresponding school. The reason the Liechtenstein family established this country was to join the Parliament of the Holy Roman Empire. The Liechtenstein family originated in the 12th century and was a great noble in Austria, loyal to the Habsburg dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire. This family owned more than 90 castles and manors in its heyday, and many family members held important positions in the Habsburg dynasty. Although the status was high and there were many fiefs, none of these fiefs belonged directly to the Holy Roman Empire. According to regulations, without the emperor’s fief, there would be no qualifications to sit in the Council of the Holy Roman Empire. There is no way to “enter” without land. This is anxious to the Liechtenstein family. In order to squeeze into the parliament, they searched for the land of the Holy Roman Empire. After years of hard searching, finally in 1699, the Grand Duke of Liechtenstein, John Adam, found two plots of land between Switzerland and Austria-Schnelberg Manor and Vaduz County. Although the two pieces of land connected together are very small, they are all land directly belonging to the Holy Roman Empire. This is what the Liechtenstein family wants, so they bought these two pieces of land and merged them. Together. In 1719, the then Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI officially named this land as Liechtenstein, and the Liechtenstein family also joined the Parliament of the Holy Roman Empire as they wished.

  Just like many people who bought a school district house but didn’t really move in, the Liechtenstein family didn’t care about their own land. For more than 100 years after the political goal of joining the Council of the Holy Roman Empire was achieved, the Liechtenstein family He has never even been to his fief, and still lives in Austria and Moravia, and concentrates on managing his position in the Holy Roman Empire. Unfortunately, the good times did not last long. In 1806, under the order of Napoleon, Franz II gave up the title of Holy Roman Emperor on August 6, and the Holy Roman Empire has since perished. The fall of the Holy Roman Empire left the Liechtenstein family without a foundation. However, given the long-term operation of the family in Austria, Liechtenstein became a close ally of Austria after the fall of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1866, the Prussian-Austrian War broke out. As an ally of Austria, Liechtenstein was forced to take a stand and join the war. Because the country is too small, only 80 people were selected to form the expeditionary force of Liechtenstein, which followed Austria’s expedition to Prussia. Since the Liechtenstein expeditionary army had not participated in the war, they could only follow at the end of the team during the Prussian-Austrian War, and they could only “fishing” almost the whole process during the war. It is said that after the war, the expeditionary force composed of 80 people was not only unscathed, but when the number was counted, it was found that one more person was found. It turned out that an Austrian officer followed the wrong team and returned to Liechtenstein with the expeditionary force. Due to its small size, after the Prussian-Austrian War, Liechtenstein disbanded the army and declared permanent neutrality. Later, he handed over his own defense and tariffs to Switzerland for management, and he was determined not to participate in international politics.
Return of the royal family, dedicated to career

  After Liechtenstein was founded, the members of the royal family were very unconcerned about their country. They have been living in Austria, only occasionally returning to their country for a cruise. Even Liechtenstein’s national flag and national anthem are very random. The melody of Liechtenstein’s national anthem “On the Young Rhine” is exactly the same as the British national anthem “God Bless the Queen” except that the lyrics have been changed. The flag of Liechtenstein was originally blue and red, but during the 1936 Olympics, it was discovered that it collided with the flag of Haiti, so the royal family added a golden crown symbolizing the Holy Roman Empire to the upper left corner of the original flag. Still in use. This kind of “inattentiveness” may also be a feature of it!
  In 1938, the 31-year-old Franz Joseph II succeeded the Duke of Liechtenstein and moved the Liechtenstein family back to Liechtenstein from Vienna, Austria. He is the first monarch of Liechtenstein to live in the country in more than 200 years. Not long after he succeeded to the throne, World War II broke out. Due to the small size of the country and its consistent policy of neutrality, Liechtenstein escaped the war. In order to escape the war, many Europeans from other countries fled here, laying the foundation for Liechtenstein’s economic development and allowing this place that once even the royal family had no time to manage. After World War II, Liechtenstein benefited from a low tax environment, permanent neutrality, and a unique geographical location in central Europe. The financial services industry rose rapidly and became another continental financial center after Switzerland.
  After the return of Joseph II, he also devoted himself to the construction of this country. In addition to finance and industry, he formulated the development strategy of the “World Philatelic Center” for Liechtenstein. Under this strategy, Liechtenstein spends a lot of money every year to invite internationally renowned designers to design stamps, and every year dozens of sets of exquisitely designed and well-made commemorative stamps are issued. And when major events, major celebrations and activities occur in the world, Liechtenstein can also issue related stamps in the first time following the heat. This has gradually established Liechtenstein’s position in the hearts of stamp collectors in the world and has become a veritable “stamp.” The country”, and stamps have also become one of the pillar industries here, bringing extremely rich wealth to the people of Liechtenstein.
There are big buildings in small places

  Below the hillside of Vaduz Castle is the main road of Vaduz. Almost all important buildings in Liechtenstein are located on this street.
  The first thing that caught people’s attention was the Parliament Building in Liechtenstein. Among the classical buildings, this purely geometrical building easily attracts attention. This beige building is composed of two parts. The main body is composed of a huge triangle and rectangle, just like a small house made of building blocks, making the arc-shaped side building at the back look very inconspicuous. This work, designed by the German Hansjög Gorlitz Architecture Studio, won the grand prize of an international architectural design competition in Europe in 2000 and was adopted by Liechtenstein. It took 7 years to complete the construction. It is said that the design of the parliament building reflects the characteristics of the separation of powers and at the same time shows the characteristic culture of the Alps in the Rhine Valley. The parliament building is decorated with 680,000 pieces of special ceramic tiles on the walls and ceiling. The top of the ridge-like roof is a glass skylight, which brings plenty of natural light and good ventilation to the entire building.
  The parliament building is next to the Liechtenstein National Museum to the north, and the Liechtenstein government building is twenty to thirty meters to the south. This three-story building makes people “return to Europe” at once-the classical architectural style is much more solemn than the parliament building. The top floor of the government building is the office of the prime minister, and the second floor is the court. Although the parliament building and the government building are only ordinary in size, the office space of these two buildings is more than enough relative to the number of office workers. There are 25 members in the Liechtenstein Parliament; there are 5 government officials, including 1 prime minister and 1 deputy prime minister. Each of the other 3 people must hold several ministerial positions.
  Someone ridiculed that in Liechtenstein, there will never be situations in which various departments shirk each other’s arrogance and arguing with each other, because even ordinary people, standing on the street and shouting can be heard by all the officials in this country, even the village committee. No big speakers are used. In Liechtenstein, if the speaker wants to find the curator of the museum, he can just open the window and shout directly; the councillor wants to find a certain minister, and when he goes downstairs to buy a newspaper, he walks more than ten meters and passes by the way.
  Although there are few people here, there are times when it is cramped. It is said that before 1991, because of the shortage of housing in Vaduz, Liechtenstein’s prison was actually set up in the basement of the government. There is also a story in the local area: one day, the prime minister worked until the evening, because other government officials went home, the doorman locked the gate of the government building when he went out, and the prime minister was trapped in the building and shouted for a long time. People agreed, because in the winter in Liechtenstein, no one is usually outside at night. Finally, a sleepy person took the key and opened the door to the Prime Minister-the
  Prime Minister asked: Who are you?
  The man replied: I am a prisoner in the basement.
  The Prime Minister was very surprised and asked him: How do you have the key?
  The prisoner replied quite naturally: The doorman is gone, give me the key for me to keep. I’ll go back to the cell in a while and lock it myself, so don’t worry.
  The Prime Minister asked him again: Why don’t you escape from prison? The prisoner replied: People all over the country know me, where can I escape?
  The Prime Minister said: You can go abroad.
  The prisoner shrugged his shoulders and replied: How could it be possible, is there any better place in the world than Liechtenstein?
  Whether this story is true or not is unclear, but it is not nonsense that the prisoners are reluctant to leave Liechtenstein. This is one of the countries with the highest threshold for investment immigration, and the conditions have been more stringent in recent years. In such a wealthy and peaceful country, many people can’t come if they want to come, and of course no one can bear to leave.
  As there are few high-rise buildings in Vaduz, the most conspicuous building here is the tower of St. Florin Cathedral, except for the royal castle built on the hill. St. Florin’s Cathedral is located not far south of the Liechtenstein government building. It was built in 1874. It is a Roman Catholic church and the bishop’s church of the Catholic Archdiocese of Vaduz. This church was designed by the architect Friedrich von Schmidt, and its exterior is neo-Gothic, with its towering minarets being the iconic landscape of Vaduz. The outer wall of the church is made of piles of stones, and the years have left mottled marks on these golden stones. The huge cyan foundation stone below the wall is extraordinarily strong and heavy. The huge flower windows on the wall add a touch of softness to the appearance of the church.
  Follow the mosaic-like path paved with colorful tiles to the main entrance of the church. The clock composed of red, blue and gold at the top of the huge bell tower records the passage of time. Since the Cathedral of St. Florin was built on a slope, two arched holes were dug in the base below the main entrance, which contained the famous bronze statue of the mother. Walking down the slope to the main entrance of the church, the red-brown door is inlaid with silver metal decorations in the shape of a cross, which feels a bit like the nails on the gates of Chinese palaces. Walking into the interior of St. Florin’s Cathedral, there is nothing special except the chandeliers, because the vaulted ceiling composed of complex lines is already the best decoration. Six stone pillars propped up the main body of the church, and each stone pillar has a colorful statue of a person, which looks natural and lifelike. There are countless wooden lines extending from the stone pillars interlacing the complex vaulted roof, which is complicated but not messy. In the innermost part of the church are three huge colorful windows, and the walls of the church are hung with wooden reliefs of the story of the “Fourteen Stations of the Suffering Road”. From the church, you can see a small auditorium. Compared with the church’s golden exterior wall full of sacredness, this small auditorium with white walls and blue shutters looks very bright.

Step into the world of stamps

  From the St. Florin Cathedral to the north back to the Liechtenstein Parliament Building, to the north is the area where museums gather. The three major museums of Liechtenstein-Liechtenstein National Museum, Stamp Museum, and Art Museum are only a hundred meters away. However, most tourists are obviously more interested in the stamp museum.
  Walking along the main road to the north, you can see all kinds of sculptures on the side of the road, metal, stone, wood, classical style, postmodernism, and so on. According to locals, some were left over 100 years ago, but more were made by artists from various countries in order to increase the tourist resources of Liechtenstein. When walking to admire the buildings and sculptures around you, don’t forget to look down at your feet, because in this stamp country, there are many patterns printed on the ground. If you look carefully, you can also find the Chinese zodiac stamps made by Liechtenstein. Seeing the strong Chinese elements in a foreign country, it is absolutely very cordial.
  The Liechtenstein National Museum is next to the parliament building. It has to be said that in this small country, the museum’s “materials” are still sufficient. The Liechtenstein National Museum is a three-story white building with exquisite design. There are 3 pavilions with different styles and 42 exhibition halls. They show the history, culture and nature of Liechtenstein in different categories, as well as the archeological achievements of Liechtenstein. , Medieval style, modern development, ethnic studies, natural specimens, etc. In this country with a population of less than 40,000, exhibition resources can be regarded as very rich. Especially in the herbarium, all kinds of animal specimens are very beautifully made, and they are basically on display without isolation, with only a “no touch” sign hanging beside it as a reminder. In the National Museum, you can also find the crown of the Duke of Liechtenstein, only a copy. In addition to the regular exhibitions, the museum often holds some traveling exhibitions, from the ancient Egypt exhibition to the Marilyn Monroe exhibition, as well as the painting exhibition of the famous Chinese artist Mr. Han Meilin.
  From the National Museum, continue to the north, walk past the visitor center, and you will not be far from the stamp museum, which is most popular with tourists. Compared with the National Museum, the stamp museum is much more famous, but the scale is so small that many tourists come to the stamp museum, the first thing they feel is whether they have gone wrong.
  The Stamp Museum has only one exhibition hall, about 60 to 70 square meters, which seems a bit “shabby” compared to the National Museum. Although the stamp museum is small, the collection is exceptionally rich, and the room is full. Since Liechtenstein issued the first set of stamps in 1912, in 100 years, this country has conquered stamp collectors all over the world with exquisite stamps. For Liechtenstein, stamps are not only economic pillars and national symbols, but also a testimony to the history of this country. In the collection, you can see the commemorative stamps when Franz I succeeded to the throne in 1929, the commemorative stamps of the restoration of St. Florin’s Cathedral in 1966, the commemorative stamps of the Liechtenstein National Emblem in 1969, the painting stereotyped VIP stamps in 1982, “Autumn Forest”, which was named the “most beautiful stamp” at the Vienna International Stamp Exhibition in 1981, and a commemorative stamp with the theme of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

On both sides of the main street, the open spaces between the beautiful houses are turned into gardens.

  In January 2019, at the commemoration ceremony of the 300th anniversary of the founding of Liechtenstein, stamps also became a gift of this country to the world. Liechtenstein issued the first set of embroidered stamps in the country’s history. The design of the stamp is a crown, so it is also called the “Prince’s Hat”. Only 70,000 pieces were issued, and it was sold out by stamp collectors all over the world in an instant. Subsequently, Liechtenstein issued a limited edition of “Prince’s Hat”, which was made of pure gold thread and decorated with 8 Swarovski crystals. Although the price was as high as 300 Swiss francs, it was still “second empty”. In addition to domestic stamps, the Liechtenstein Stamp Museum also houses stamps and first day covers issued by more than 100 countries and regions in the world. Especially since 2011, Liechtenstein has begun to issue commemorative stamps with the theme of the Chinese Zodiac. The first stamp is the Year of the Dragon stamp. This stamp with strong Chinese characteristics is also the world’s first stamp made using laser hollowing technology. It uses a strong Chinese red as the main color, and the paper-cut elements, Chinese characters and Chinese dragons are perfectly combined with the Chinese dragon, which is very delicate. This stamp won the “Best Foreign Stamps” and “Best Foreign Zodiac Stamps” in the 11th Best Foreign Stamp Selection held in China in 2012. Liechtenstein recorded its own development in the form of stamps, and at the same time recorded the changes in the world, and wrote exquisite footnotes for each era.
  In addition to postage stamps, the Stamp Museum also houses many postal collections and postman utensils, such as hand lamps, postal treasures, horns, etc., as well as a colorful statue of a full-length postman holding a bicycle to deliver letters. This makes young people who have almost never sent a letter. Can understand how the postman industry used to pass letters across thousands of rivers in the past. There are also movable type plates for printing stamps, stamp printing machines, postmarks and other related collections in the showcase. After buying the stamps in the store, you must remember to stamp a postmark at the post office opposite to the Postal Museum. That is a worthwhile trip.
$70,000 to be the king

  In 2011, the little-known little country of Liechtenstein made a big news and made a sensation in the world.
  The Duke of Liechtenstein, Adam II, decided that as long as he paid 70,000 US dollars, he could become a “temporary king” in Liechtenstein for one day and lease the country of Liechtenstein for a minimum of two days. During the lease period, you can obtain a key symbolizing national power, you can live in the palace, enjoy royal treatment, drink the grand duke’s Tibetan wine, customize temporary road signs, manage 40,000 residents across the country, and even temporarily command 110 police officers across the country. And issue temporary currency. If you want, you can also go on a medieval-style cruise, but that requires an additional fee.

You can buy some stamps as souvenirs in the gift shop. Of course, the higher the price, the more precious and storytelling.

Postmarks of various eras in the museum.

A corner of the exhibition hall simulates the scene of a postman riding a bicycle to deliver a letter.

  As soon as this news came out, it was a shock to the world. Rent out a country and spend money to become a temporary king? This is too childish! Media from various countries have reposted this news. At first, everyone thought it was a tabloid that was made up for eyeballs. It was not until the major media confirmed that this news was true. They also started to notice this little-known small country. . As a result, Liechtenstein “out of the circle”, this event was actually a success. It turns out that although Liechtenstein has a good financial industry, fine industry, and stamp industry, the tourism industry that the country wants to develop does not have many unique resources, especially close to the two major tourism countries of Switzerland and Austria, and want to develop its own unique The tourism industry is very difficult. So Adam II, Duke of Liechtenstein, came up with this method to increase the popularity of his country.
  However, although this news is a bit tricky, it is inevitable that some people take it seriously. It is said that the American singer Snoop Dogg has contacted relevant people in Liechtenstein and wanted to rent the country for 2 days for $140,000 to shoot his own music video. However, this request was rejected by the Duke of Adam II on the grounds of “no appointment in advance”. This “rental country” event is still valid today, but everyone realizes that this is a publicity stunt, and no one goes to negotiate anymore.
  In fact, Liechtenstein is not only good at propaganda, a small country also has its own strength. In the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Liechtenstein also sent two athletes to participate. Herman, who was the head of the country’s Olympic delegation at the time, said: Although Liechtenstein is a small country, it has a long sports tradition. Since 1936, it has participated in all Olympic games except the Moscow Olympics. Although it has never won a medal in the Summer Olympics, Liechtenstein relies on its traditional advantages in alpine skiing and has gained a lot in the Winter Olympics, winning a total of 10 Winter Olympics medals. Because of its small population, Liechtenstein has also become the country with the most Olympic medals per capita in the world and the smallest country in the history of the Olympics. In 2022, the world-renowned Beijing Winter Olympics will be held soon. I hope that Liechtenstein athletes can achieve good results by then. For stamp collectors around the world, it would be even better if Liechtenstein could issue a few more commemorative stamps for the Beijing Winter Olympics!

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