Blingtastic Swarovski crystals, a light exhibition, intriguing modern art and stunning gardens. There’s more to Swarovski Kristallwelten (Swarovski Crystal Worlds) than you might expect.
Innsbruck was the final stop on my whirlwind trip around Austria. After visiting Graz and Salzburg, I wondered what this city shrouded by snow-capped mountains would have to offer. I knew it as a winter destination, with several ski resorts just a short journey from the city centre, but what about in the warmer months? After a day of sightseeing, checking out the colourful houses lining the River Inn, walking along Maria Theresien Street and catching a cable car up Nordkette, I had four hours free. You guys told me to visit Swarovski Crystal Worlds (Swarovski Kristallwelten) and I listened!
I’ll admit I had a few preconceptions before my visit. I’ve never been a huge Swarovski fan. I like jewellery, but nothing hugely blingy. I worried it might be a tourist attraction with the principal aim to push gift shop purchases. Surprisingly, it wasn’t, and actually, it was really rather magical!
I’ll add one thing here. A lot of visitors rushed through in tours, didn’t read any of the information on the screens, and probably just saw a pretty light or exhibit, snapped a photo, and moved on. I decided to take my time. I also took a tripod. Photography is really important to me, and as I was travelling solo I really wanted to capture some great shots of me exploring the magic. It turned out to be a lifesaver… as most of the exhibition is in the dark, slow shutter speed is required, and hand held shots would have suffered by losing their crispness.
There are 16 rooms in Swarovski’s Chambers of Wonder, each designed by great artists from around the world. Having visited several modern art museums, I’d compare this experience as being closer to that rather than a touristy theme park (which was what I worried it could be!)
Without giving too much away, here are a few highlights from my morning at Swarovski Crystal Worlds…
The Swarovski Giant
The entrance to Swarovski Kristallwelten features an impressive giant! He’s pretty imposing, with a waterfall cascading from his mouth. It was designed by multimedia artist André Heller to celebrate Swarovski’s hundredth anniversary in 1995.
Say hello to the largest hand cut crystal in the world!
Me: How much is it worth?
Staff: It’s priceless
Me: *puts credit card away*
The Crystal Dome
The crystal dome made up of 595 mirrors was one of my favourite rooms. It was pure magic. Everything reflected, the colours kept changing, and when I had it all to myself I felt like I’d been enclosed in my very own crystal! Needless to say, a lot of photos followed.
Another of my favourites, this room starts with a waterfall and then opens out into a magical scene of lights, poles (to symbolise trees) and mirrors. The reflections are mesmerising, and while it’s a small space, the fantastical forest feels vast. It’s a room made for photography too!
This room was quite eerie, with enchanting music and constantly changing colours and lights.A dorning each of the 48 blocks made from crystal were key moments from history. It wiggled around corners and certainly left an impression!
The final room, Crystal Forest contains a large illuminated ball made of 10,000 crystals, and strands of light stretching the length of the room. I read that it represented a sea monster, and all the elements… but as with all modern art, everyone comes to their own conclusions… so hello giant tassel!
The final room contained some famous items from Swarovski’s history, with my favourite being Cinderella’s slipper (from the 2015 film). Cut from a crystal, it glinted and shone in the light! I wonder if it’d fit my foot? Size 5?
I made sure I had time to check out the outside areas too. There are beautiful gardens with a maze, kids play area and even a waterfall. My favourite outdoor feature were the crystal clouds, which stood tall over a pool of water. Cue magical reflections as the crystals caught the sunlight!
One of the most incredible things about Swarovski Kristallwelten is its location in between snow-capped mountains in the town of Wattens near Innsbruck. It really does provide a stunning backdrop.
Useful Info For Visiting Swarovski Kristallwelten (Swarovski Crystal Worlds)
Prices (as of May 2017):
Adults: EUR 19.00
Children: EUR 7.50 (free entry for under 5s)
Entry is included in the Innsbruck Card.
There’s a shuttle bus that runs from Innsbruck city centre and back every few hours. A return ticket costs EUR 9.50 for adults, but if you have the Innsbruck Card it’s included. Parking is available on site, free of charge.
Unsurprisingly, there’s a huge gift shop at the end. It’s tax free, so you might pick up some bargains!
There’s a café located just after the gift shop, which serves coffee, cake and alcoholic drinks.
Just outside the main building is Daniel’s Restaurant, which serves lunch and dinner.
I was invited to #UncoverAustria by the Austrian National Tourist Organisation. As always, opinions are my own.