Crystal Worlds in Tyrol:
Swarovski Kristallwelten in Wattens
The small town of Wattens in Tyrol would have little claim to fame if it wasn′t home to the World′s leading manufacturer of tacky glass crystals: Swarovski. In 1995, the company hired the Viennese artist Andre Heller to design a "theme park" on crystals in an attempt to celebrate the company′s 100th anniversary. In collaboration with artists such as Brian Eno, Susanne Schmögner, Paul Seide and others, Heller created an assembly of attractions that is capable of inducing an orgasm in any die-hard crystal-aficionado.
If you think that this might apply to only a small share of the general population, think twice: Within a few years, the "Kristallwelten" became Austria′s second-most successful "museum" after Schloss Schönbrunn in Vienna - approximately 500,000 visitors a year stream into the village in Tyrol and the "Crystal Worlds".
The park is housed inside of a green giant that sort of "grows" out of a hill and from whose mouth a waterfall emerges. The waterfall feeds a pond. The interiors consist of "Wunderkammern" ("cabinets of marvel") that were designed by each individual artists involved with the creation.
Crystal-Mania in Tyrol
In 2003, the Kristallwelten were extended by another seven Wunderkammern. The artists in charge were Fabrizio Plessi, Thomas Feuerstein, Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Roland Neuwirth. Upon entering the hill-giant thing, visitors view the "Planet der Kristalle", a 3D-projection.
In the "Kristalldom" or "Crystal Cupola", a crystal is reflected in 590 small units. And in the "Kristalloskop", which is essentially a giant kaleidoscope, supposedly "healing" crystals should send positive frequencies to sensitive housewives and other visitors willing to immerse themselves in dubious, pseudo-scientific crystal-Gnostics.
The Kristallwelten extend to the outside of the giant: Here you will find a maze in the shape of a hand, which will excite children in particular. It is worth noting that garden design is among Andre Heller′s key interests, and probably his greatest gift. Given that the entrance fee is rather hefty for a commercial exhibition, the over-all dimension of the museum is much smaller than I had expected. The primary target group of the Swarovski Kristallwelten seems to overlap widely with Swarovski crystal collectors: Elderly people, mostly from Austria and Germany.
Wattens: A Pricy Day-Trip
All in all, the Crystal Worlds might be a good destination for a very rainy day during a vacation in Tyrol. Wattens itself is not a terribly scenic place - only the surrounding mountains are. There is a small museum of typewriters and a town museum with an exhibition that spans pre-historic days to industrialisation.
Other attractions nearby include Hall, Schloss Ambras and Tyrol′s capital Innsbruck; the medieval mining town of Schwaz, the villages of Rattenberg and Alpbach; the Zillertal; and Lake Achensee. Therefore, I think even on a rainy day you should be able to entertain yourself without the energizing waves that emerge from the crystals of Swarovski…
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