One of the highlights of our trip to Wattens was seeing the Crystal Clouds in the gardens of Swarovski Crystal Worlds.This place is really full of surprises.There´s the Giant, the lush and Art Chamber of Wonders, a beautifully designed Restaurant, and of course, a world class interactive Tower play area for kids.
Probably people think that it´s just a place for sparkling crystal and shopping for “Bling -bling” but I ´m telling you, there are some serious good stuff in here. And the—sparkling Crystal Clouds is definitely worth the look.
The details, the concept, the artistic approach and overall installation is simply brilliant. Of course, natural clouds can never be substituted, but this installation is absolutely gorgeous. For me, the focal point is the quality of 800,000 crystals attached to the cloud-like net formation.I respect the concept and laborious creativity. These crystal clouds are shining bright against the sun on a sunny day and reflects a shimmering delight at night.
Anyway, if you would ask what´s so special about the crystals?
” As compared to other glass jewelry, Swarovski jewelry is made of extremely high-quality crystal glass. The high-quality crystals come from the very uniform structure which offers the Swarovski crystals amazing clarity“
Every particular in nature, a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole.– Ralph Waldo Emerson
In this place, your imagination is set up to sky-limit. On a bright sunny day, the dots and spots that these crystals reflects is purely aesthetical element which makes it even more wonderful sight to see.
With the Austrian Alps in the backgrounds, these crystal clouds gives us the pleasure that even mighty clouds can kiss the grounds.
The other day I was reading a book about ” Schöner wohnen im Garten” , which is all about simple and DY projects to make your garden homey and yes, infused with lots of creativity. I really wanted to have a small fountain, something with water, lots of rocks, plants in Terra Cotta, envisioned like a oasis zen corner. As I gather my thoughts and ideas, I remember the giant fountain in Wattens in Swarovski Crystal Worlds. It´s world famous called as “The Giant”, which simply looking from these photos is quite obvious why they called it like that!
The Giant Fountain is designed by and created in 1995 by world famous Multimedia Austrian Artist Andre´Heller. He envisioned this creation to commemorate Swarovski´s Hundredth Anniversary.The giant head peeks out from a hill with a mouth flowing with gushing waters, which actually serves as the main entrance to the Chambers of Wonders inside the Crystal World. It contains different kinds of beautiful art installations and compositions of world renowned artists.The concept was genius, with bringing out the crystal as the key features.From the Artist imagination, this giant travelled around the world and finally settled in Wattens and brought home all treasures from around the world.
He collaborated with different artists, sculptures, and visual artists to create different chambers aiming to “mesmerize” the visitors with glance, shimmer and sparkles.
I´ve heard that its quite famous and one of the main attractions in Tyrol so I was really thrilled to see it with my own eyes.After ourdaytrip in Innsbruck, we went to Wattens. I spent a lot of time glued inspecting it´s mouth, eyes and the whole face is just a pure wonder. Made me wonder just how many crystal pieces were used to accentuate the eyes, it´s eyeball mainly, and the eyebrows up to the nose. It is really impressive work of art.The eyes sparkled even in broad daylight but it´s totally a wonder to be seen at night. As the season changes, the Giant creates different impressions. I have never seen it covered in snow but I´ve seen photos of it and it really looks wonderful. German FAZ called it ” the place of pilgrimage of Amazement”. The original concept of the Chamber of Wonders is based on the historical wonders of the16th century in the Castle of Ambras which aimed to collect universal collection of knowledge .
It´s no doubt that the artist has succesfully achieved it´s design purpose since inside the chamber of wonders are collections of different artistic and original creations based on the concept of using Crystals.It´s so impressive that it makes me itch to visit it once again .In the chambers, world famous Artists like Fernando Romero, Andy Warhol,Niki de Saint Phally, Fredrikson Stallard, famous Indian designer Manish Arora, and Yayoi Kusama and Lee Bul contributed their works to make this place a giant Theatre and stage of Art.
In this place, I was able to appreciate technology even more. The shimmering lights, and every bright sparkle makes this place really special. I am not a shopaholic but then, the crystals are really beautiful and worth the drool.
And yes, everytime I would see a fountain, I would always be reminded of the Giant…!
Yes, I am a parent as well so sometimes, I´ll post about children and parenthood .Playgrounds are a big thing here in Germany.So grateful that we lived in a city where child-friendly spaces are limitless and abundant. But sometimes, as we explore other places, we got lucky as well!
I think playgrounds grows with your child and it´s a vital place for any childhood.Around 500 meters away from where we lived we find a new rows of Kindergarten and Krippe ( Daycare center for small children) and they are building another playground.One small talk over breakfast made me realized that way back in Kuwait, there is a fast food center for every 1 kilometer radius.Name it, a Shawarma, Döner-Kebab stall, Mcdonalds, Pizza Hut, Burger King and not to mention those Arabic Bakalas where they sell local snacks and drinks.
Compared here, there is a playground or Spielplatz every 1 kilometer radius!
Looking for playground is always on our top to do list whenever we are out. I must say that here in Germany, it feel like I am commiting a big sin if I don´t take out my child into a playground. Regardless of the weather, we should head out.There was a time when playgrounds were banned and restricted due to Covid, it´s terrible. Thankfully, we are able to enjoy outdoors now at least.
Going to a playground is an automatic navigator, and in the end, a powerful stress reliever , just like I kknew that it would be a nice day if I had a run in the morning. For parents like me, you know exactly what I mean. Part of our daily walks in time of pandemic is a pit stop in a playground and it would surely make everyone smile.
When we visited Austria the last time, we find this amazing place, Wildpark Ferleiten , a wild park with a petting zoo, a very large playground, trampolines, Go Karts, water play areas and a lot more. Of course there´s a restaurant and a Biergarten as well. It´s located just at the foot base of the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse .
Photos are not enough but my daughter had a blast here, so did we. The weather was perfect and it was not too crowded when we came. Back in those days, no Covid yet so I guess we are worry-free. Made me think if I would be able to feel the same after Covid lockdowns and travel restrictions…
There´s a part of this park that has a direct view of a cascading waterfalls in the middle of a lush forest. It looks so peaceful and yet, the only sound you hear are the screaming joy of children. The petting zoo was properly layed out and following the trail is actually exciting even for adults.
From time to time, I am reminded that here I first saw a real Edelweiß, the national flower of Austria.
“It is a happy talent, to know how to play…” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
In between high peaks and lush greens, my eyes feasted on this view. I felt so small and weak compared to the powerful force of nature. It’s so primitive and yet so striking. This is the view of the mountains surrounding the Hochgebirgsstauseen in Kaprun, the high water reservoir dams which took my breath away but then also had a sad forgotten history. As I was reading more about how these amazing Dams were built, I got more hooked knowing that it has a sad history worth telling…and should not really forgotten…Ever.
Let me tell you more why and what’s so special about this place.
The Mooserboden reservoirs sit at an altitude of 2040 meters and have a sad and dark history. First building plans were drafted in the 1920’s but it was only during World War II that they were realised. The Nazi regime forced around 4000 prisoners of war and 6300 forced foreign labourers to construct the dams. The commemorative plaque on the Pagan Church tells you that over 120 prisoners died here between 1940 and 1945. German speakers can find detailed information about the Nazi past of the reservoirs here. After the war, the dams were finished and became a symbol of post-war reconstruction, and until today many people are not aware of the dams’ Nazi past .Some just appreciate the beauty that they see and doesn’t care about the past anymore. But come to think of it, it is so great that the process of building this giant reservoirs has a sad story and that makes it even more important to know and remember history!
The Tauern power plants were originally regarded as one of the most important projects of the East-German electricity industry and were declared “preferred hydraulic engineering“. Forced labourers and prisoners of war were used to build the power station and work on the dam above it in the valley. These workers came from twenty-four (24) different nations, including Polish, French and Soviet POWs, Italians, people from the territories of the Soviet Union (‘Ostarbeiter’) and Jews. An unknown number died due to the harsh conditions, particularly in the mountain camp where the dam was being built. At one point a British air raid triggered a flash flood in which 1,200 people, half of them Soviet forced labourers, were killed.
Living here in Germany have opened my eyes for so many things. Before, I never knew in details about the victims of war and Nazi regime. Our knowledge about Germany is so limited. When I studied German, I have read so many books about it and watched many films about the dark past of Germany and sad stories about war, let alone forced labor and concentration camps.
It is no joke working hard ( deadly working conditions) up in the altitudes of the mountains. Imagine these people forced to work in winter times.
Looking at the beautiful in front of me made me feel grateful, grateful for nature, for the powerful force of the mountains, and high respect for those people who have worked hard, in worst conditions, probably even through ice cold temperatures just to build this dam. I saw lots of people around the world visiting this place and wondering about the beauty of the dam, but I wondered who appreciate the history behind it.Most of all, the story is past behind us now.No more wars.
It’s the blend of human engineering with natural creations that makes the dams above Kaprun such a special part of Austria.If I will show Austria to a friend, then I would definitely bring them to Kaprun! My daughter enjoyed playing in the playground in the Mooserboden. She doens’t know yet the story about this place.Maybe when she grows old and revisits this place then I hope she would appreciate this place as much as I did.
Can’t get enough of Kaprun? see the gallery online Here and another Post about Hochgebirgsstauseen Here.
Who among you is enamored ( or had been, never was, or has future plans ) by these love -locks mania?
Is it only me or others also find it fascinating (or rather intriguing) to ask why people wants to put love locks on bridges, walls railings, fences, or to other odd places ? In the first place, padlocks belongs to doors and gates and not on bridges!
I was inspired to write this post because some time ago, I heard my Colleague sharing her story about her daughter who has a boyfriend. On her birthday she asked her mother for a gift, a very special gift— a “Liebeschlosser” in Deutsch or personalized engraved love lock ! With the name of the couple of course.Where they are going to hang it I didn’t bother to ask anymore!
See, honestly, it’s hard not to ignore them , they are almost everywhere! Crossing the bridge full of padlocks will definitely redirect your focus. I wanted to look at the city view but I can’t even have a better view because the bridge is so full of tourists–everybody ogling around the padlocks!
Just look at all those heart-shaped little piece of metal. I’ve seen that the new fad comes even with a photo! Look closely and you will realize that it becomes a human nature. People from different origin are doing it.Wanting to do it, and maybe already bought a padlock to put it somewhere.
They are unbelievably insane in numbers! All of these locks with inscriptions, in different colors, size and design composed a debatable grafitti--an undeniably vandalism of natural scenic spots. All for the sake of going through the “fad”or ” tourist trap”, “photo point” or whatever you call it. The effect can already be seen–some key states already started the padlock ban !
But what really drives people ( or couples) to “bridged” and locked their love? perhaps a travel culture, or just a plain tourist trap dilemma? Netherlands has another fad–locking their bikes along the canal bridges, and that’s another story.
From the place where I grew up, we never have this kind of love lock bridges, ( or not that I know of, or have seen!) nor that I’ve seen something like this in Kuwait either. First, padlocks are not cheap and rivers are already contaminated and adding keys will definitely pose another environmental problem. Just imagine the amount of padlocks that were removed from Paris that ‘s almost over a million padlocks that weights more than 45 tonnes! That was a sensational issue.
It’s not for sure a European thing because I’ve noticed that in many different parts of the world, there are definitely magnets for romantics to put a chain of their love ! It’s crazy just seeing the amount of padlocks and how multi-lingual the inscriptions, it’s really international! Even here in my little town of Ingolstadt, where Audi’s and BMW’s parades the streets, but also, our bridges are getting “heavy”and “heavier” because people are also putting more and more their love on chains! All for the sake of “Liebe“.
I noticed that this thing became a thing in almost big cities. Started in Paris and now, almost big cities have their own bridge of love locks attraction. People picked-up the habit of buying locks, engraving their names, and chaining their hearts on these metals hooked up in bridges, throw the keys and then left. What is astonishing is that so many shops sells these stuff! If there were no padlocks, of course this “business” will not thrived as well. I noticed that many locks are written with different languages so people from different places really contribute to this commotion of locks in bridges.
Have you ever tried putting your love in chains?
If given the chance, would you ever put a padlock for your love on a bridge?
My very good friend TheSnowmeltsSomewhere is hosting a great Friendly Friday Photo Challenge and I thought I might join in. I haven’t done any Photo Challenges in ages for lack of time to write. Today I managed to squeezed some time and come up with this Post and just purely excited to be able to share something in this wonderful community once again. This week’s theme is Tourism and Overtourism and here’s a photo on how I best see it.
“Whenever I see Horse- driven carriages, the first thing that comes to my mind is : Tourists! Where there are horses or camels, there will be tourists!“
I don’t know about you but in most places I’ve visited, these horse-drawn carriage is always on sight. It’s definitely a top-thing to- do for most people who likes to be pampered and experience royalty even for quite a while. Let’s admit,it feels good to be seated on these carriages, it’s cozy, comfy and definitely a magnet for attention. It’s also pure business, a means to makes money and everything.Not to mention the issues of animal cruelty, this tourist top-to-do is slowly running down the hill.
In Salzburg, The Fiaker Carriages ( horse-drawn carriages) used to be the personal and official transportation of the Prince- archbishops. In this lovely city of Mozart , 14 carriages are lined up everyday in front of Residenzplatz square offerring various sightseeing tours such as “The Sound of Music Tour”, “History of Music Tour”and many more.
If you are willing to pay for a 50-minutes tour of the city with reservation including pick-up at the hotel or from another location in the city for 200 Euros per carriage (4-5 persons) or 340 Euros for the larger hackney carriage (10 persons), then, probably it’s a chance to feel like Royalty!
Writing this post made me remember when we visited the “Marstall “in the Thurn und Taxis Palace in Regensburg where we saw the museum filled with different Royal Carriages that belongs to the Royal family. Every piece is pure image of luxury and royalty.
Be it drawn by Horses, Camels, Carabao or cows, it doesn’t matter, the joy of the trip lies on the ride..
New Year started off with bright, shimmering sparkles for us, because we found ourselves in the beautiful Winter Wonderland of Crystals—-where else, but in the Headquarters of Swarovski Crystals in Wattens, Austria! Well, not everyone would consider this place as a Bucket-List sort of thing, but If you love Crystals and you have a thing for Arts, plus you are in the vicinity of Innsbruck, then this can be a great getaway for everyone in the family!
As for me, I love the unique sparkle of Crystals. I like the simple beauty of it whether it’s in a form of jewelry or from an art installation. I have learned that it takes talent and high-end technology to come out with these gorgeous creation. The sparkle is something magical and when you wear something that blings, plus you feel good about it ,then nobody can take away that from you, regardless of how much it costs.
So when we’ve learned that the Swarovski HQ is just half an hour drive from Innsbruck, we decided to give it a go. At first I was just super curious of what’s all about the face of the Giant,I’ve only seen it in photos, so I wanted to know the concept behind it. The Giant, is one-of a kind symbol, that is the face of Swarovski, same as the Swan as its current symbol.I find it fascinating how from 1899, Swarovski uses the Edelweiss flower as its logo. Edelweiss symbolizes Alpinism and purity, for a fact that Edelweiss is one of the most beloved flowers in Austria.
All my questions were lost as we stepped into the magical world of the huge Krystallwelten. My eyes feasted, and my mind marveled into the artistic creations that are on display. The company itself , which operates in roughly 2,800 stores in around 170 countries, and employs more than 32,000 employees, and has a revenue of about 2.6 billion euros (in 2016) looks magnanimous against the azure mountains,it stands out among the hilly country side of Wattens. Now I understand why people from different parts of the world traveled half across the globe just to see what’s in this place. Swarovski is still Innsbruck’s #1 Tourist attraction! Thanks to the great mind of Daniel Swarovski, the founder of Swarovski Crystal Dynasty, a humble glass cutter, and a genius to create a Diamond for everyone!
If you are interested to know how it all started, from Daniel Swarovski’s humble beginnings to what Swarovski is now to the world, here I found an interestingSwarovski story.
I, myself were fascinated of how crystal is being made, so it’s just fitting to share with you what I’ve found out about the art of making Crystals. The modern Crystal museum is not just a shop where you buy a piece of crystal jewelry. The whole place itself is a platform for Arts with the theme of Crystal, thus making it a top-ranking Austrian tourist destination for its modern Architecture and facilities. Maybe not everyone loves Art or jewelry, but I must say that the Artistic installations there conveys great minds and concept, and of course guarantees delight for everyone in the family no matter what the weather is.
Its winter time and just in time for the New Year, so the whole place is still heavily decorated with Winter Magic Moments where the visualizations were designed by Tord Boontje. There’s a giant Christmas Tree ,carousel and many unique art installations glittering with lights can be seen in the gardens.When we arrived at the Arrival’s Hall where we got our tickets, we already have the glimpse of the grand entrance to the Chambers of Wonders, with The Giant of Wattens, slightly covered in snow and foliage, with its glistening eyes and mouth flowing with water.The world renowned-landmark of the World of Crystals created by the great mind of multi-media Artist, André Heller!
Chambers of Wonders
Little that the world know, inside the Swarovski Crystal Worlds are 16 Chambers of Wonders.These are special chambers designed by world-class talented Artists showing their inspiring creations.
The Artists have one goal in their mind:
Nurturing the sense of wonder of every visitor who came to Wattens! This place offers more than the bling. So it’s not only a place to buy crystal jewelry, it is a place that displays innovative Crystal Technology and artistic minds, with crystal as the main component!
Some of the notable Artists and Art installations that I personally found to be inspiring were :
Manish Arora’s “Ready to Love” is super colorful, funky, with dancing lights and a stairs full of colorful inscriptions with the theme Love.It is so fresh and luxurious that my daughter was so delighted to see this.If you are traveling with children, a place like this might be boring for them, but in the chamber of “Ready to Love”, it looks like it’s a colorful play area with interacting lights.
André Heller’s “Heroes of Peace” is an interactive stage. Heller designed an accessible explorable theater for all the senses to inspire, amuse and fill up the audience with positive energy. We saw Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi in a hologram-filled space! Looks eerie at first, but it’s quite high-tech!
Fernando Romero’s ” El Sol “ is a stunning art installation which focuses on man’s relationship with the sun. This is by far my favorite since it reminds me of the stunning Winter sunsetscapes that I saw while I’m in Tyrol. El Sol is a one-of a kind, large geodesic structure,mimicking the sun made up of 2, 880 individually manufactured Swarovski crystals!
Another beautiful sight inside the Chambers of Wonders is the “The Eden” by Fredrikson Stalard . For me, it is unique, and I love the mystery. My daughter enjoyed this one too. It’s like she is walking in a maze. It’s a forest-fantasy in an archaic, primeval world. At its entrance, 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.
Within the depths of this dark forest, the wanderer encounters strange, hidden gems in the form of the biggest crystals Swarovski has ever produced. They emerge as beacons of light from the dark, like strange, exotic birds, reptiles, flowers, or fruit, symbolizing the magnificence of nature and the origins of life.
For the rest of the Chambers of Wonders are listed Here. Seeing them one by one is like being transported into a magical world one after the other where Swarovski crystals shines the best.
Of course, inside as well is the tempting shop of Swarovski where we’ve seen all beautiful things out of crystals! Adjacent to the Chambers of Wonders is the Swarovski Shop where you can mesmerized yourself with all the beautiful jewelry and items offered by Swarovski. They are currently having a huge Sale so visitors are really flocking and hoarding over it.
We went out to grab a bite inside Daniel’s Cafe & Restaurant which is also dynamically designed. It is very spacious and we loved the food.The price was reasonable and their service is excellent.
Outside, we marvel along the beautiful Crystal Clouds installations.We visited on a snowy, cloudy day but still, the sight of the Krystallwolke is something that amazes me. It’s made up of 800,000 crystal jewels embedded in a net like structure to mimic clouds.It is designed by Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot.
We continue to wander off through all the Kunst im Garten ( Art in the Garden), Labyrinth (Maze), Roman Excavations, and go inside their one-of -a kind Spielturm ( Playtower) .This is a place that my daughter loves, so do we!She needed a time to release her energy so this place really comes handy.
My daughter having a blast inside the bouncing area!
The top of the tower!
More interactive games!
They have a state of the art indoor playground and a tower that is completely amazing! The view from inside seeing the mountains is beautiful even on a cloudy day.The façades of the tower, designed by architecture firm Snøhetta, 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. The view from inside to outside is visible at all times and at night, the structure is a spectacular body of light.
I have seen that not only children love this place but also their parents who played with them. There are slide tunnels, maze, puzzles and bouncing areas. Outside there is also an Outdoor playground, a Labyrinth maze and so much more.
To cap up our Swarovski experience, I could say that it has been a well-spent day. I did not expect that my husband would love this place but He said that He actually enjoyed it.We haven’t seen all the other attractions since its cold outside but then, there is always a reason to come back.
How did you start your year?
Do you like Swarovski Crystals over other type of jewelry?
Would you like to visit this place given a chance?
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you follow #myInnsbruck experience from my other posts about our New Year experience in the Alps.
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