Adventures of the Glass Giant
ultimedia artist André Heller always had a wild imagination. As a child, he pictured giants living in Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna. They would go out walking at night, and turn into stone during the day. When Swarovski asked him to create a “world of glass” in 1995, the Austrian artist remembered these nocturnal wanderers. They became his inspiration for the Giant, guardian of Swarovski Crystal Worlds, in the heart of Tyrol.
Wattens, less than half an hour from Innsbruck, was the place chosen to create this fantasy place. In this town, an enclave in the Austrian Alps, a Bohemian jeweller had founded the renowned Swarovski brand one hundred years earlier. Its precious glass is the main raw material for the stunning world inside the Giant.
The Tour of the Giant
You can buy this storybook packed with interactive puzzles and interesting facts at the ticket office. It guides parents and children through Swarovski Crystal Worlds. Each visitor is given a torch, to help them discover all the secrets this glass theme park holds.
Covered with plants, his enormous head is the entrance to the Chambers of Wonder, where you can find works by artists such as Andy Warhol and Salvador Dalí. They include the Crystal Dome, which is made of 595 mirrors and attempts to imitate the inside of a crystal, and the Centenary, a crystal with 100 facets, the biggest hand-cut one in the world. To keep you from being too dazzled by this resplendent museum, Swarovski Crystal Worlds is also a place to explore, play and create.
“Children,” according to Swarovski Crystal Worlds “are the artists, visionaries, dreamers and researchers of the morning.” That is why they have a place of honour in this world. Unlike Oscar Wilde’s selfish giant, who built a wall to stop children coming in to play in his garden, the Giant here welcomes children to explore the 7.5 hectare of meadow that surround his head. The little visitors can climb through the playtower, play in the park or get lost in the Giant hand-shaped maze created by André Heller.
For the pleasure of adults and children alike, the Garden features works by different artists, including a Cloud made up of 800,000 Swarovski crystals, floating overhead. Lights from the crystal shimmer inside the Mirror Pool, creating the illusion of the night sky—even in broad daylight. Norwegian firm Snøhetta is behind the design of the tower, which has four play areas inside, spread across different levels, which can be accessed by climbing a 14 m net.
All year round, there are workshops and events for the whole family, including the Festival of Light, held between January and February this year. The most musical event takes place in May (from 19 to 27), with the Music in the Giant festival. The 14th festival will be attended by artists from different parts of the world, including Jerusalem and Berlin. They will play classic and contemporary music, from Schubert to today. The notes will ring out in a magical space made of glass, and always under the attentive gaze of the Giant.