Swarovski is one of Austria’s best-known export and there is a theme park in Wattens, a suburb of Innsbruck, Austria that pays homage to these beautiful crystals. Swarovski Crystal Worlds (Swarovski Kristallwelten) is more modern art gallery than a behind the scenes glimpse into the actual creation of Swarovski’s famous crystal animals and jewelry. You enter the Crystal Worlds through the mouth of a giant monster with crystal eyes and water pouring out of its mouth into a reflecting pool whose surface mirrors the stunning mountainous surroundings.
Multimedia artist André Heller was commissioned to design this treasure trove of crystal figures as a gift to acknowledge the dedication of the employees of Swarovski. Since its opening in 1995, more than 12 million people have flocked to Wattens to catch a glimpse at this dazzling crystalline world. You can see some timeless pieces of Swarovski crystal in all of its historical facets and glamour, that range from the company’s founding to magical moments on the stage, screen and runway.
Heller’s thematic centerpiece for Swarovski Crystal Worlds was the shape of the Giant. And he developed the story of a Giant who set out to experience the world and all of its treasures and wonders. With this knowledge, the Giant settled down in Wattens/Tyrol, where he has watched over his Chambers of Wonder ever since. The realm of the Giant hosts a rich collection of precious items housed in 16 Chambers of Wonder. Here, in a world of fantasy inspired and designed by some of the world’s greatest artists, visitors can believe in miracles, even if only for just a moment.
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On a rainy day this summer, we stopped at Swarovski Kristallwelten while on our road trip through the Alps. It was beautiful timing since there was Indian Mela scheduled during our visit. A host of artists and designers – especially the Indian star designer Manish Arora, have been working together to create a complete artistic concept consisting of shimmering colors and forms, exotic aromas, and fascinating sounds, to take visitors on a journey into the magical and colorful world of India. Swarovski Crystal Worlds was transformed into a “Mela” – complete with a mirrored elephant welcoming the guests at the entrance to Lotuses under the Crystal Cloud to Indian food stalls selling pani puri( an Indian snack ) and tea near the playground.
The Chamber of Wonder has exhibition halls designed by an international band of contemporary artists starting with a Blue Hall that houses a giant Swarovski Crystal. The Blue Hall gives the visitor an initial insight into the fascination of crystal and displays masterpieces such as Salvador Dalí’s “The Persistence of Time” and Andy Warhol’s “Gems”. A few glitzy Indian outfits designed by Manish Arora were displayed in the cave like room in celebration of the Indian Festival.
Geodesic domes are particularly stable, especially considering the relatively small amount of material used to build them. The dome of the Crystal Dome consists of 595 mirrors that create a special depth effect and give the viewer the feeling of being inside a crystal. Eight of the mirrors are so-called “spy mirrors” that conceal fascinating art objects by various artists. Because it is such a spectacular backdrop, the Crystal Dome is a popular venue for weddings and proposals.
Eden, another Chamber of Wonder creates for the visitor a forest landscape. But Eden is no ordinary forest – it is a fantastical world with some of the biggest crystals Swarovski has ever produced. It starts with a waterfall, filmed in the surrounding Alps, cascades down a screen and is reflected by the walls, while the roar of the water permeates the entire Chamber of Wonder, creating a wall of background sound. Inside, the visitor follows a path that meanders through a dense wilderness of simple polished brass structures, which through mirrored walls appear to go on to infinity.
55 Million Crystals
“55 Million Crystals”, is a synthesis of ambient music, light, hand-painted picture components, and state-of-the-art computer technology that merge into a grandiose object that changes with barely perceptible transitions and produces a meditative effect. At any moment, “55 Million Crystals” is an absolutely unique original. No one else has ever seen what you see in this particular moment, and no one else will ever see it quite this way again. In an age of high-definition monitors and powerful computers, Brian Eno does not consider an original work of art something bound to an immovable, physical object. In his holistic hypnotic experience comprised of music and colors, Eno shows that there is an infinity of individual moments and that each is unique. It was a meditative experience sitting in this chamber and definitely one of my favorite.
Although the main attractions of Swarovski Kristallwelten are the Giant and its Chambers of Wonder, there are a few attractions outdoors that can’t be missed – the Crystal Cloud, the Playtower and Playground. One of the most beautiful parts of the park landscape is the green labyrinth in the form of a hand by André Heller that invites the visitor to explore and play hide-and-seek. The façades of the play tower, consist of 160 crystalline facets, though no two are exactly alike. The panes are imprinted with an innovative pattern of millions of tiny animal motifs. We loved the Lotuses displayed under the Crystal Cloud.
Timeless area tells the history of Swarovski and crystal in all of its historical facets. An exciting exhibition that ranges from the company’s founding to magical moments on the stage, screen and runway juxtaposes curiosities and glamour with nostalgia, history, and technology.
More Information for visiting the Swarovski Crystal Worlds
Swarovski Crystal Worlds is open year-round but the Indian summer festival was only during July and August, 2017
Swarovski Kristallwelten Wattens
Kristallweltenstraße 1, 6112 Wattens, Österreich
See their website for more information: https://kristallwelten.swarovski.com