All That Glitters: Inside Swarovski Kristallwelten

Phoebe Lowndes

Ever wondered what life looks like from inside a giant crystal? Well, Swarovski Kristallwelten – aka Crystal Worlds, in Wattens, Austria – offers you the chance to discover this, and much, much more.

Located near Innsbruck, a city in the Austrian Alps where futuristic architecture meets chocolate-box Imperial style, and postcard-perfect mountains frame every view in town. You’ll find Crystal Worlds situated in a similarly picturesque location, around 25 minutes by taxi from the city.

Here, visitors can discover how Swarovski crystals are made

What is Swarovski Kristallwelten?

Created in collaboration with artists, designers and architects from around the world, who were briefed to interpret ‘crystal’ in their own way, Swarovski celebrated its hundredth anniversary in 1995 by building a stylish space for the conceptual experience of all that glitters.

Swarovski means opulence and it has a long history of luxury design. In 1892, Daniel Swarovski (the company’s founder) patented a machine of his own invention which created precision-cut, high-quality crystal glass. Four generations later, the family are still producing some of the finest crystal products in the business and dominating the fashion industry when it comes to glamorous adornments.

What to expect when you arrive

With its aim to showcase glittering works of art, Crystal Worlds is a fairytale experience for sparkle-lovers.

Behind a cascading waterfall, you enter through a giant’s mouth, into a lair like no other. Designed by Andre Heller as the centrepiece to this wonderland of shiny things, the giant houses ‘17 Chambers of Wonder’. In each vast chamber you will find immersive installations, ethereal opticals and artworks by the likes of Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. It even features an ‘Infinity Mirror Room’ by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama – and you don’t have to queue to get inside!

If you’re more into the natural crystal form, exhibits include a giant mountain crystal from Madagascar, but while the museum inspires contemplation and wonder, it’s not really a place for the more holistically minded. Bling is the name of the game here.

What to see at Swarovski Kristallwelten

Swarovski crystals are synthetic, man-made gems which are still manufactured in Austria today. The secret to making such awe-inspiring products is under lock and key, which perhaps only makes them more intriguing.

Using advanced glass-cutting methods, Kristallwelten shows us that anything is possible when it comes to crystal design. In one of the giant’s chamber rooms, you’ll find crystal renditions of four of the world’s most famous landmarks – the Taj Mahal, Empire State, Pyramid of Cheops in Giza and Lenin’s Mausoleum. Truly awesome, and intricately cut.

Other highlights include a crystal cloud installation over the mirror pond in the grounds, and of course, the giant’s lair – Kusama’s infinity room in particular.

Is this for me?

Yes, if you get giddy at the thought of glitter and fantasise about travelling to a place where a million diamonds shine. It’s a phantasmagoria of sparkle and shimmer, and particularly good if you have small children. The exhibits are multi-sensory and the grounds are vast and interesting, plus there’s an indoor play area for those rainy or colder days.

No, if you’re hoping for an insight into production and manufacturing processes. These are closely guarded secrets and the most you’ll get in that respect is a history lesson on the brand.

It’s definitely an arty exhibit, with a heavy emphasis on shopping as you exit (to this end, self-proclaimed ‘shopaholics’ will be in heaven). Some may consider the place tacky, but what it lacks in understatement, it makes up for in fabulous bling.

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