Mar 20, 2024 7 min read

Wattens, the Birthplace of Swarovski Crystals

I explored Swarovski Crystal Worlds, from dazzling art to the largest crystal store. An unforgettable adventure in Wattens, Austria!

Swarovski Crystal Worlds museum park

Located 15 km from Innsbruck is Wattens, the place where Daniel Swarovski opened a crystal cutting factory in 1895, which took off and became a well-known brand worldwide.

In 1995, the company celebrated its 100th anniversary by opening here a fascinating theme park, Swarovski Crystal Worlds (Kristallwelten).

We couldn't miss it, so after we left the car in the spacious parking lot, we headed towards the entrance, to the ticket booth. Big crowds, equally high prices (23 euros per person) but the curiosity matched it.

In the park, which spans 7.5 hectares, we discovered several contemporary art works created by artists from all around the globe, in which crystals are a constant presence.

"Prologue III" is one of them, in the form of a huge steel wheel, inside of which, on a net, thousands of crystals in the shape of raindrops are caught, reflecting light in the sun.

Fredrikson Stallard Prologue III
Fredrikson Stallard Prologue III

"Carousel", in black and white, sober and elegant, is another creation adorned with millions of Swarovski crystals. The monochrome design shines with 15 million Swarovski crystals on 12 ceiling panels and 16 wall panels.

Jaime Hayon designs monochrome carousel for Swarovski Kristallwelten
Jaime Hayon designs monochrome carousel for Swarovski Kristallwelten

However, the largest work of this kind in the world is "Crystal Cloud & Mirror Pool". Clouds of crystal made from approximately 800,000 manually mounted Swarovski crystals float above the mirror-black pool.

Crystal Cloud & Mirror Pool Swarovski Kristallwelten
Crystal Cloud & Mirror Pool Swarovski Kristallwelten

After a tour of the park, we approached the actual museum, The Giant with crystal eyes, from whose mouth cascades a waterfall. The Giant's Realm hosts a collection of precious objects plated with Swarovski crystals, in 18 Chambers of Wonder, in a world of fantasy and miracles.

The Giant with crystal eyes Swarovski Kristallwelten
The Giant with crystal eyes

Each room has its own theme and colors, with artists and architects from all over the world interpreting crystals in their unique way.

The Giant's underground world begins in the "Blue Hall", with walls painted in the color "International Klein Blue", where works such as Salvador Dalí's "The Persistence of Memory", "Nana the Crystal Carrier", the black stallion "Chetak", reproduced in life-size with an Indian Swarovski crystal harness, and the Crystal Wall, an 11-meter high and 42-meter long wall embedded with crystals of different colors and sizes are showcased.

In the middle of the room is displayed the world's largest ever cut crystal, the Centenary, weighing 62 kg, with 310,000 carats, and also the world's smallest crystal, with 17 facets and just 0.7 millimeters, which you look at through lenses that greatly magnify the image.

world's largest ever cut crystal, the Centenary, weighing 62 kg, with 310,000 carats

From the semi-darkness of the first room, we moved to the bright room called "Silent light", representing the crystal tree, resembling a snow-laden fir. 150,000 sparkling, enchanting Swarovski crystals glimmer like ice, cold and mysterious, at temperatures up to -10° Celsius, outlining an authentic winter landscape.

snow-laden fir Swarovski Kristallwelten
snow-laden fir Swarovski Kristallwelten

"Crystal dome" is formed from 595 mirrors that create a special effect of infinity and the sensation of being inside a huge crystal. 8 of the mirrors are so-called "spy mirrors" that hide objects representing royal crowns, created by artists.

The light changes to the musical background, shifting from warm colors, gold, yellow, red, to cool colors silver, green, blue, violet. The Crystal Dome is a popular place for weddings, due to its spectacular nature.

The Crystal Dome Swarovski Kristallwelten

The most crowded and interesting room is "The art of performance", where iconic outfits from screen and stage of Hollywood stars have been gathered.

The original outfits worn by Elton John (The original "EJ" tailcoat and the one from the movie "Rocketman"), Lady Gaga (The original Swarovski crystal mesh top and shorts worn on Saturday Night Live) stand alongside recreations of the original tuxedo worn by Marlene Dietrich in the movie "Blonde Venus" from 1932, Katy Perry's Moschino Chandelier dress she wore at the Met Ball in 2019.

Other interesting pieces include the original crown of Queen Victoria from "The Young Victoria", Cinderella's crystal slipper, the jewelry worn by Marilyn Monroe when she performs the song Diamonds are a girl's best friend, as well as Björk's multicolored Foraeva dress.

The art of performance room Swarovski Kristallwelten
The art of performance room

In "Lattice Sun", the deeply symbolic bridge leads us through a fascinating landscape of crystals and mirrors that intensify the spatial illusion of the visitor.

Lattice Sun Swarovski Kristallwelten
Lattice Sun

In the room named "Ready to love," we are led along a sparkling staircase that transmits messages of love, to Indian rhythms. In the Indian Palace of Love that glitters under blinding neon lights, the heart is the symbol that dominates and conquers all. The hearts in this room are handcrafted using various traditional Indian techniques, in bright, eye-straining colors.

the room named Ready to love at Swarovski Museum
the room named Ready to love

"Ice alley" appears to be an empty corridor, but comes to life as you step into it. Each step you take is accompanied by a crunching and cracking sound, as if you were on an icy surface, with each step causing small cracks in the ice.

"Shadow" is a walk-in installation made of light and warm colors, where one can theoretically experience the soul of the crystal, because practically, I did not understand this concept.

"Transparent Opacity" refers to both seemingly contradictory aspects: its transparency and impenetrability.

Transparent Opacity at Swarovski Museum
Transparent Opacity

"Chandelier of Grief" has at its center a rotating chandelier element made of Swarovski crystals, whose brilliance comes to life in a room completely lined with mirrors. The room creates the illusion of being in an infinite space.

Chandelier of Grief at Swarowski Museum
Chandelier of Grief

"Studio Job Wunderkammer" is a circular room, decorated with mirrors and stained glass, in the middle of which stands a white mountain. Reaching a height of five meters, the peak is covered with a white layer of sparkling crystals that mimic snow.

An electric locomotive animates the mountain, winding along the train line that passes through tunnels beside buildings and iconic monuments, such as the Statue of Liberty in New York, Big Ben in London, Michelangelo's sculpture of David, and even the Central Station in Antwerp. Some are clad in bronze and gilded with 24-karat gold, hand-painted with rich details.

Studio Job Wunderkammer at Swarowski Museum
Studio Job Wunderkammer

"La Primadonna Assoluta" is dedicated to the soprano Jessye Norman, who received no fewer than five Grammy Awards.

"Eden" is a forest, but not an ordinary one. Visitors enter it in darkness, following a path that winds among polished brass structures and stones in the form of large crystals illuminated in various colors, which reflect in mirrors that seem to lead you through a labyrinth.

Eden forest at Swarowski Museum

In "Famos", four architectural landmarks are displayed: the Taj Mahal from Agra, the Pyramid of Khufu from Giza, Lenin's Mausoleum, and the New York Empire State Building, showcasing Swarovski's unique technique of crystal cutting.

Taj Mahal at Swarowski Museum
Taj Mahal
the Empire State Building at Swarowski Museum
the Empire State Building

The Pyramid of Khufu weighs 105 kilograms, and the Empire State Building is made up of 386 individual parts. Interesting are the humorous videos that play inside the crystals, showing, for example, Lenin in his mausoleum or a mummy in the pyramid, moving around.

Pyramid of Khufu at Swarowski Museum
Pyramid of Khufu
Lenin in his mausoleum
Lenin in his mausoleum

Much less spectacular are the following rooms, starting with "55 Million Crystals", a temporary painting that changes shape without you realizing it.

Next is "El Sol", made from 2,880 customized Swarovski crystals, at the center of which is a sphere of LEDs, whose light is divided by the internal facets of the precisely cut crystals, so as to create a dynamic surface reminiscent of the sun.

El Sol, made from 2,880 customized Swarovski crystals
El Sol

"Heroes of peace" is dedicated to the theme of peace, with innovative projection technology making it possible to meet life-size holograms of individuals who have won the Nobel Peace Prize or who have dedicated their lives to the theme of peace.

The "Timeless" area tells the history of Swarovski and the crystal, from the founding of the company to the present day, tracing the evolution of the crystal through all its historical phases.

Finally, we arrived in the shopping paradise of the "Crystal Stage" store, the largest Swarovski crystal store in the world, where you can find jewelry or souvenirs for every budget.

the "Crystal Stage" store, the largest Swarovski crystal store in the world
the "Crystal Stage" store

I liked what I saw, especially in the first rooms, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one impressed; the location was crowded and visited by many tourists from all over the world.

We left the Giant's underground world and the sparkle of the crystals, returning to real life, with the unfriendly weather, continuing our journey towards Innsbruck.

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