Monday, April 13, 2020

Neuschwanstein Castle Guide

Neuschwanstein Castle was commenced by the Bavarian King Ludwig II in 1869 and never completed. He saw it as a monument to medieval culture and kingship, which he revered and wanted to imitate. Built and furnished in medieval styles but equipped with what at the time was the latest technology, it is the most famous work of historicism and the embodiment of German idealism. On a ridge in a magnificent setting high above the Pollät Gorge with the mountains as a backdrop he built his ‘New Castle’ over the remains of two small medieval castles.  It is one of the best known and most frequently visited and photographed buildings in the world, rightfully so. The setting of Neuschwanstein could not be more idyllic. However, movement in the foundation area has to be continuously monitored, and the sheer rock walls must be repeatedly secured. The harsh climate also has a detrimental effect on the limestone façades, which will have to be renovated section by section over the next few years. In terms of European castles, this one is newer being it was begun building in 1868.

In Neuschwanstein, the Middle Ages were only an illusion: behind the medieval appearance of the castle the latest technology was in operation and every comfort was ensured.

The rooms of the Palace, the royal residence, were fitted with hot air central heating. Running water was available on every floor and the kitchen had both hot and cold water. The toilets had an automatic flushing system. The king used an electric bell system to summon his servants and adjutants. On the third and fourth floors there were even telephones. Meals did not have to be laboriously carried upstairs: for this purpose there was a lift.

The latest technology was also used for the construction process itself. The cranes were driven by steam engines, and the Throne Room was incorporated by means of a steel construction. One of the special features of Neuschwanstein is the large window panes. Windows of this size were still unusual even in Ludwig II's day. 

The apartments and state rooms of the king are on the third and fourth floors. The rooms on the second floor were never finished and today house a shop, a cafeteria and a multimedia room.

The paintings of Neuschwanstein were inspired by the operas of Richard Wagner. The pictures were modeled on the medieval legends that the composer had also taken as the basis for his works. Ludwig II, King of Bavaria since 1864, addressed the following lines to the man he so greatly admired, Richard Wagner:

«It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights' castles, and I must confess to you that I am looking forward very much to living there one day (in 3 years); there will be several cozy, habitable guest rooms with a splendid view of the noble Säuling, the mountains of Tyrol and far across the plain; you know the revered guest I would like to accommodate there; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world. It will also remind you of "Tannhäuser" (Singers' Hall with a view of the castle in the background), "Lohengrin'" (castle courtyard, open corridor, path to the chapel); this castle will be in every way more beautiful and habitable than Hohenschwangau further down, which is desecrated every year by the prose of my mother; they will take revenge, the desecrated gods, and come to live with Us on the lofty heights, breathing the air of heaven.

Almost all the aspects of Ludwig's Neuschwanstein are mentioned here. What is not mentioned, however, is the political reason for building: in 1866 Bavaria, allied with Austria, had lost a war against the expanding Prussia. Bavaria was forced to accept a "defensive and offensive alliance", which removed the king's right to dispose over his army in case of war. From 1866, therefore, Ludwig II was no longer a sovereign ruler. This limitation was the biggest misfortune of his life. In 1867 he began planning his own kingdom, in the form of his castles and palaces, where he could be a real king.

His Father had already had paths and lookout points constructed in the area around Hohenschwangau in order to be able to enjoy the scenery. In the 1840s, as a birthday present for his mountain-climbing mother, Marie, his Father had the bridge, the "Marienbrücke", built high above the Pöllat Gorge.

From the narrow mountain ridge known as the "Jugend" to the left of the Pöllat, there was a magnificent view of the mountains and lakes. Crown Prince Ludwig was often on the "Jugend".

From 1875 on he lived at night and slept during the day. The latest technology was also used for the highly elaborate coaches and sleighs in which the king traveled at night, sometimes in historic costume.

From 1885 on foreign banks threatened to seize his property. The king's refusal to react rationally led the government to declare him insane and depose him in 1886 – a procedure not provided for in the Bavarian constitution. Ludwig II was interned in Berg Palace. The next day he died in mysterious circumstances in Lake Starnberg, together with the psychiatrist who had certified him as insane.

Visits are only possible within a guided tour. The guided tour takes about 30 minutes.

Guided tours are offered daily from:
10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. (Winter opening times) and
9.00 a.m.  - 6.00 p.m. (Summer opening times)

Neuschwanstein can be reached by shuttle-bus, by horse-drawn carriage or on foot.
Bus stop castle: "Marienbrücke" Mary's Bridge (above Neuschwanstein Castle)

Price per person:
Uphill: € 2,50     Downhill: € 1,50
Roundtrip: € 3,00

Children price:
0 - 6 years: free of charge
7 - 12 years:
Uphill € 1,00     Downhill € 0,50
Roundtrip € 1,50

You pay at the cashier at the bus station or directly to the bus driver (no credit cards).
You can use the transport facilities even without an entrance ticket for the castles.

In the summer season:
First departure uphill to Neuschwanstein Castle/ Mary's Bridge: at 8.00 am
Last departure uphill to Neuschwanstein Castle/ Mary's Bridge: at 5.30 pm
Last transfer downhill from Neuschwanstein Castle/ Mary's Bridge: at 6.45 pm

In the winter season (in suitable weather conditions - no ice and no snow):
First departure uphill to Neuschwanstein Castle/ Mary's Bridge: at 9.00 am
Last departure uphill to Neuschwanstein Castle/ Mary's Bridge: at 3.30 pm
Last transfer downhill from Neuschwanstein Castle/ Mary's Bridge: at 5.00 pm

Important note: The bus does not go directly to Neuschwanstein castle. There is a steep 15 minutes walking from the bus-stop-castle to the entrance of Neuschwanstein castle. "Mary's" bridge is 5 minutes walking from the bus-stop-castle. Pets are not allowed in the bus-shuttle. The shuttle bus only operates in suitable weather conditions (no snow or ice).

Horse carriages to Neuschwanstein castle:

Carriage-stop valley: in front of Hotel Müller

Carriage-stop castle: below the Neuschwanstein castle

Uphill: € 7,00   Downhill: € 3,50

You pay directly to the horse carriage driver.

Duration of the ride: approx. 20 minutes. 

Important note: The horse carriages do not drive directly to the main entrance of the Neuschwanstein castle. You need to walk approx. 15 minutes uphill from the carriage-stop to the entrance of the castle. The horse carriages run the whole year around.

Just outside the gates of Neuschwanstein Castle you will find the perfect Hotel and restaurant:

This hotel was a popular destination for excursions even when the castle was being built around 1869. At that time, visitors and curious people who wanted to experience the progress of the magnificent building up close were drawn to the former artisan canteen . Nowhere else can you dine and spend a night closer and more beautiful than in the Neuschwanstein Castle Restaurant. You can reach the fairytale castle in just two minutes on foot! Stay in this historic, impressive and romantic place between the fairytale castle Neuschwanstein and the Hohenschwangau castle.

Not-to-miss activities: the Tegelberg mountain next to castle Neuschwanstein. There is an alpine slide perfect for all ages over 3. It is a very popular area. There are a lot of hiking trails from or to the top. At the mountain station you can enjoy a beautiful panorama view over the alps and the Bavarian landscape with its many lakes, while having refreshments or a typical Bavarian lunch at the Mountain Top Restaurant.

The easiest way to reach the top is by using the cable car.
Directly at the foot of Tegelberg mountain is the summer toboggan run and a huge children's adventure playground. Parents can easily monitor their children from the beer garden.

The Royal Crystal Thermal pool in Schwangau: Enjoy unique pools and spa area in the face of the Royal Castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau.  Let all your senses experience the elements of fire, water, earth, crystals and gemstones.

Sun bathe with the castle in the background

Romantic Road: Germany's oldest and most popular holiday route; 29 towns, 460 km for over 70 years.
The name Romantic Road expresses what many guests from home and abroad feel on seeing medieval towns or the fairy-tale castle at Neuschwanstein: fascination and the sense of being transported back in time. From Würzburg to Füssen, the Romantic Road opens up a wealth of European history, art and culture to travelers. On the way from north to south, the landscape changes from river valleys, fertile agricultural land, forests and meadows to dramatic mountain scenery: from Würzburg and wine, the Tauber Valley and Rothenburg, via the Ries, Lechfeld and Pfaffenwinkel districts to the castles of King Ludwig.
However, a journey along the Romantic Road offers much more than beautiful countryside and culinary delights. The Romantic Road thrives on the harmony of culture and hospitality, on the unending series of new vistas in polymorphic landscapes, on towns with impressive buildings that have preserved their original appearance over the centuries. Balthasar Neumann designed the Residence in Würzburg. Tilman Riemenschneider is present throughout the Tauber Valley. Carl Spitzweg was fascinated by Rothenburg and Dinkelsbühl. In the Ries district, you can see the history of the earth for yourself. Augsburg bears witness to the Romans and, with the ’Fuggerei‘, is distinguished by the first social housing, which dates back to the 16th century. The ’Wieskirche‘, one of the most famous Rococo works of art, is to be found in the Pfaffenwinkel district. Hohenschwangau and, above all, Neuschwanstein, the world-famous castle of Bavarian King Ludwig II, are dreams in stone of bygone times and mark the end of the Romantic Road at the foot of the Bavarian Alps.

If you are travelling by car, mobile home or motorcycle, simply follow the brown signs that link the individual towns along the Romantic Road. Cyclists can follow the green signs of the Romantic Road Long Distance Cycle Trail about 500 km from Würzburg to Füssen. Under the number D9, this route is also part of the German Bicycle Club (ADFC) network of cycle routes. The blue signs mark the long-distance walking trail, a genuine pleasure route of almost 315 miles that passes through beautiful countryside  and romantic towns and villages. Take time to explore the landscape, art and culinary delights that await you along the Romantic Road. On the way from the River Main to the Alps, you can be sure of discovering a host of extraordinary, inspiring and amazing sights well off the beaten path of mass tourism.
From Würzburg to Füssen, the Romantic Road opens up a wealth of European history, art and culture to travelers.

On the way from north to south, the landscape changes from river valleys, fertile agricultural land, forests and meadows to dramatic mountain scenery: from Würzburg and wine, the Tauber Valley and Rothenburg, via the Ries, Lechfeld and Pfaffenwinkel districts to the castles of King Ludwig.

However, a journey along the Romantic Road offers much more than beautiful countryside and culinary delights. The Romantic Road thrives on the harmony of culture and hospitality, on the unending series of new vistas in polymorphic landscapes, on towns with impressive buildings that have preserved their original appearance over the centuries.

From April to October, the Romantic Road buses will connect the Romantic Road, Germany’s most famous and popular holiday route, with the international gateways of Frankfurt am Main and Munich. As there are no direct rail links, and only a few towns and villages can be reached by train, the bus with its ‘hop on – hop off’ concept, which is tried and tested across the world, offers the ideal way of organizing one's own individual voyage of discovery along the Romantic Road.

Activities to get children excited for your upcoming Neuschwanstein visit:

Make your own king's crown
Would you like to feel like a king? No problem – here is a crown for you to make based on an original model. Although we've had to make it a bit smaller than the original so that you can print out all the parts at home. Let your parents give you a hand, as parts of the crown are a bit tricky to make.

The crown kit is made up of the following sections:

 All you have to do is print out the individual sections and follow the instructions.

And now, your Royal Highnesses, get busy with the scissors and glue!

Here is a Memory Cards game you can also print and cut out.

You can find coloring sheets HERE.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Visit Museums & Cities Virtually

One of my favorite ways to waste time is to get lost on Google's Art & Culture website. You can view famous pieces of art from around the world & take a virtual tour of all of the cities I wish I were travelling to. I love retracing steps of places our family has been, especially seeing how close I was to other really cool things I never knew about if we had only taken a right instead of a left, haha. Many museums also offer online tours.

The Louvre offers virtual tours to several exhibitions, changing often.
There is also a catalog of videos the Louvre has made on multiple interesting topics. My children can spend hours watching these to learn more about what they have seen in person at The Louvre. Checkout the catalog HERE. You can also see an online gallery HERE.

Versailles Palace in France has online exhibits as well. You can also tour the gardens virtually, one of my favorite gardens to see. I also love Tuileries Gardens, Luxembourg Gardens, Schonbrunn Palace Gardens.

My favorite museum in the world, the Natural History Museum in Vienna has an online tour of exhibits! Search through many online museum visits HERE.

Other museums with online exhibits are:
Museum of Modern Art
Musee Dorsay Paris
National Gallery of Art Washington DC
The Met, NYC
Art Institute Chicago
The Nelson Atkins (My home museum!)
Royal Trust Collection
Life Photo Collection
Anne Frank House
The White House
US National Archives
Schonbrunn Palace
Eiffel Tour
Museum of Impressionism,Giverny, France
Paris Street Art & The Street Art Museum, Pairs

Sewu temple complex

Prambanan Temple, the Tallest Hindus Temple in the World in Yogyakarta, Indonesia is definitely on my travel bucket list after visiting it virtually. The temple compound, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia and the second-largest in Southeast Asia. It is characterized by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu architecture, and by the towering 154-foot-high central building inside a large complex of individual temples.

You can get lost for weeks in search of new places HERE.

Pompeii Ruins in Italy

Yellowstone National Park

Ancient Kyoto Kamigamo Shrine

CSMT Station, Mumbai, India

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City

Champs Elysees, Paris, France

Tower of Babel, Iraq

Chauvet Cave, France

Easter Island

Taj Majal

Great Pyramids of Giza

Colosseum in Rome

Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

Sydney Opera House

Hollywood Boulevard

Machu Picchu, Peru


International Space Station

Swiss Alps Jungfrau

Cinque Terre, Italy

How about researching amazing historic artists? Search for your favorite artist here.

Vincent Van Gogh
Claude Monet
Norman Rockwell
Leonardo Da Vinci

Six closed Exhibits you can still visit through Google Street View HERE.

10 European heritage sites you'll want to explore- HERE

Walk the spiritual path to Mount Haguro 

Take a stroll through CERN's underground spaces HERE.

Would you rather research local stuff? Click Nearby. Click on the place you'd like to virtually visit then click View in Google Arts & Culture. I am in Kansas City and I have had so much fun finding things I have never seen! I was able to learn about our hometown President Truman. There is a lot of information from the Jackson County Historical Society. I hadn't even heard of the Kansas City Museum! Many local schools do field trips to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. KC's tourism site is even on Google Arts & Culture! There is the Kauffman Center for the Performing ArtsNational World War I MuseumKemper Museum of Contemporary ArtKC Public Library.

There are several other categories that you can search with great results.
Historical Figures
Art Movements
Historic Events

I'd love to hear what & where you explored! Tell me in the comments!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Most Instagramable Photo Spots in Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck is definitely a great place for every traveler. The city is very diverse and therefore offers a wide variety of motifs. From medieval architecture, alpine terrain to great nature and landscape motifs, there is something for every taste. Here are some great places where you can definitely take wonderful photos for your memories. 

The locations are all easily accessible on foot or by public transport.

Photo: Danijel Jovanovic
The colorful row of houses in the Mariahilf district is right on the Inn. The north chain enthroned behind with the colorful, beautiful houses is probably the classic among the city motifs. You should definitely stop by here. This point is best suited in the morning and in the evening - for advanced photographers, even at night. In the morning you have the sun behind you and therefore the most beautiful light on the colorful houses. The photographs are taken from the market place over the Inn.

View from the Hafelekar on the city of Innsbruck. Photo: Danijel Jovanovic
A trip to the Nordkette by train is a worthwhile trip. Directly from the city center ( Congress ) you can reach high alpine terrain in a few minutes. The view of the city and the other side, the Karwendel, is breathtaking. The city from high up is not an everyday motif and is definitely a tip for me. The trip on Friday evening is particularly worthwhile. The view down to the shining city and far into the Wipp and Stubai valley is unique. The more sporty can also hike a few vertical meters from the Hafelekar mountain station via a small climb to the Hafelekar summit cross and include this as a motif. 
My tip: The Innsbruck Card includes the ascent and descent.

The last rays of sun say goodbye to the peaks around the city in a soft pastel pink. Photo: Danijel Jovanovic


The Bergisel in the south of the city is known to most people: be it as a place steeped in history or because of the ski jumping hill by Zaha Hadid, one of the landmarks of the state capital. A trip here is definitely worth it. In addition to the Tirol Panorama and the ski jumping stadium, this place also offers wonderful views of the city. A small pavilion next to the Kaiserschützen Museum should definitely be visited. The whole city is at your feet here.

View of the city from the Bergisel Pavilion at sunset. Photo: Danijel Jovanovic
Afterwards you can have a drink or a coffee up on the tower of the Bergisel ski jump . Here the view is also unique and worth every photo. This photo point can be visited at any time of the day. Night shots from the diving tower are only possible in winter as it gets dark earlier. The Innsbruck Card is also valid here. 
The view is unique from the Bergisel diving tower. Enjoy the views and indulge in gastronomy. Photo: Danijel Jovanovic

The view from the city tower at Christmas is particularly worthwhile.
The city tower is located in Innsbruck's old town and offers wonderful views and is therefore also a great photo point.

The Innsbruck Card includes the climb up the 148 stairs. Once at the top, you have a 360 ° view of the capital of the Alps. You can take photos in all directions. Opening times in winter from 10-17h and in summer from 10-20h. That is, if you come shortly before the end, you can enjoy the whole thing at dusk.

View of the Golden Roof with the old town fountain
The medieval old town of Innsbruck offers a variety of motifs and great photo points. The most famous is certainly the city's landmark, the Golden Roof . Also worth seeing are the Innsbruck Cathedral, where you can take great photos including the cathedral on the cathedral square. The arbors also offer all kinds of sights, such as wooden doors and other details. The Otto and Hofburg at the old town entrances are also worthwhile motifs.

St. Jakob cathedral and the cathedral square

The view from the Hungerburg on the city and the majestic Serles.
The Hungerburg is a district of Innsbruck and lies at the foot of the Nordkette high above the city. The best way to reach this area is with the Hungerburgbahn from the center. The Innsbruck Card can also be used here. The mountain station offers a breathtaking viewing platform. For people who don't have a camera, there is a free viewing telescope. There are boards on the platform so that you can orient yourself at certain points. You have the best light here in the morning and in the evening / night. During the day you always have backlight.

The view of Innsbruck at dusk. Breathtaking.

Maria Theresa Street.
The Maria Theresa Street is the center of the city. Here you will find great photo points, such as the triumphal gate and the Anna column. You can relax in the numerous cafés and enjoy the variety of motifs. Here you have good lighting at all times of the day.

Triumphal Arch

Are you looking for the most beautiful view, the best selfie spot and the best landscape photo motif? On the viewing platforms around Innsbruck you can see meadows, valleys and gorges. The spectacular views are an uplifting experience. See them  HERE.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Swarovski Kristallwelton: Swarovski Crystal Worlds, Innsbruck, Austria

Swarovski Crystal Worlds was opened in 1995 to mark the centennial anniversary of the company’s founding. Multimedia artist André Heller designed a unique and magical place. This beloved attraction has brought moments of wonder to over fifteen million visitors from all around the world. Visitors are surprised, touched, and perhaps even transformed by crystal in all its facets.

The main attractions of Swarovski Kristallwelten are the Giant and its Chambers of Wonder, the Crystal Cloud, the playtower and playground. The a mix of art and culture, entertainment and shopping, family experience and culinary delights makes Swarovski Crystal Worlds unique.
There are no limits to imagination in Swarovski Crystal Worlds – today’s children are tomorrow’s artists and visionaries, dreamers and researchers.

The realm of the Giant hosts a rich collection of precious items housed in 17 Chambers of Wonder. Here, in a world of fantasy inspired and designed by some of the world’s greatest artists, visitors can believe in miracles for just a moment.


The subterranean world of the Giant begins in the Blue Hall, the first Chamber of Wonder in Swarovski Kristallwelten (Swarovski Crystal Worlds). Its slanted walls, painted in the color “International Klein Blue,” a shade developed by the artist Yves Klein, suggest the inside of a cave.
The Blue Hall gives the visitor an initial insight into the fascination of crystal and displays masterpieces such as Salvador Dalí’s “The Persistence of Time”, Niki de Saint Phalle’s “Crystal-bearing Nana”, and Andy Warhol’s “Gems”. Furthermore, the Blue Hall incorporates the Centenar, the black stallion “Chetak”, and the Crystal Wall.


The desire for transformation and fantasies is a force that affects human beings – and the machine-driven world of Jim Whiting. His “Mechanical Theater” combines humans and technology, the bizarre and the aesthetic in a fashion show out of the ordinary. Protagonists are an Adonis and a “Walking Woman”, who represent the relationship between man and woman. Rigid objects suddenly spring to life, as clothes fly and dance through the air as if by magic. The laws of gravity seem to be suspended and objects make movements that they should not be able to make. This creates an eerily beautiful scenario that provides plenty of scope for your own fantasies. The music in “Mechanical Theater” is by Silvio Borchardt and Swarovski workshops provide the technology, demonstrating their high degree of expertise as far as precision engineering is concerned.


The dome of the Crystal Dome was modeled after Sir Richard Buckminster Fuller's (1895–1983) geodesic dome, whose architectural design perfectly reflects the principle of geodesy. Geodesy is the scientific discipline devoted to geographical measurement and representation of the Earth; in mathematics, it designates the shortest path between two points on a curved surface.
Geodesic domes are particularly stable, especially considering the relatively small amount of material used to build them. The dome of the Crystal Dome consists of 595 mirrors that create a special depth effect and give the viewer the feeling of being inside a crystal. Eight of the mirrors are so-called “spy mirrors” that conceal fascinating art objects by various artists. The music in the Crystal Dome was created by Brian Eno. Because it is such a spectacular backdrop, the Crystal Dome is a popular venue for weddings.


At the center of “Silent Light” is the eponymous, spectacularly sparkling crystal tree by designers Tord Boontje and Alexander McQueen, who created it in 2003 for the foyer of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; it was later moved to Swarovski Kristallwelten (Swarovski Crystal Worlds). Its 150, 000 sparkling Swarovski crystals, which Tord Boontje uses to create a complete Chamber of Wonder, evoke images of a bone-chilling cold and yet heartwarmingly romantic winter wonderland.
Especially in the spring and summer, this miracle world creates a magical contrast to the reality outside the door. The design bears the typical imprimatur of Tord Boontje, in whose work nature plays a starring role.



For “Into Lattice Sun”, South Korean artist Lee Bul looked to modern architecture as her muse, translating it into a metropolitan, dramatic, and utopian landscape for the Chamber of Wonder. Lee Bul’s encompassing installation explores the interactions between visitor and space. Myriad crystals and mirrors give the Chamber of Wonder the spatial illusion of ever new vastness and depths, inviting visitors to think about themselves and their position within the space. This deliberately staged interplay of the continually changeable, iridescent mirror landscape enables the visitor to discover all of its facets from the most diverse perspectives. The deeply symbolic bridge that leads us through this fascinating landscape of crystal and mirrors intensifies the visitor’s spatial experience.

I invite you into this amorous paradise wherein the heart rules and conquers all. The hearts in this room are a labor of love, each one handcrafted with various traditional Indian techniques. They express an emotion that we all can relate to and a vision that will make us smile.
You will be sworn in to the magical realm as you are ushered along a scintillating stairway beaming messages d’amour. Lovestruck, you are now attuned to the bewitching sight: a technicolor utopia with an array of elaborately crafted, jewel-adorned heart-fairies, blissfully soaring, tumbling, and freewheeling in the sumptuous fluorescence of an exalted Indian mansion, glistening under dazzling neon lights. “Welcome to the Palace of Love. You are invited to partake in the enchanting ritual and leave a declaration of love on the graffiti wall! Express your love. I have so much love to give that one is not enough! And you? Ready to love.” -MANISH ARORA


At first glance, Tyrolean artist Oliver Irschitz's “Ice Passage” is an empty corridor; it does not come alive until you step inside. As you place your foot on the floor, a series of crystalline tracks start to appear, precisely revealing the path you have taken. The lights also trace these tracks, allowing the viewer to get sporadic glances into the surrounding world of glistening ice. The more visitors dare to venture in, the brighter and more luminescent the surroundings become, and the denser the tracks on the floor appear. Each step that the visitor takes is accompanied by mysterious and sometimes alarming creaking and crackling – just as if you were actually on a frozen surface, with each step causing small fissures in the ice.


“Transparent Opacity” by Arik Levy is an homage to the diversity of crystal. The title of this work already embraces both of its apparently contradictory aspects: its transparency and its impenetrability. The room installation is both a game with the most diverse array of materials – from glass, marble, and steel to synthetic 3-D prints – as well as a play on shapes and sizes.
Some of the exhibition pieces invoke the familiar silhouette of the cut chaton, while other works reach deep into the abstract realm of natural, archaic crystalline shapes. Additionally, visitors can interact with the space and become involuntary co-creators of the piece by virtue of their diversity. This interrelationship becomes utterly dynamic in the “Interactive Arena”, which captures and reflects each and every movement.

Arik Levy’s EmotionalFormation represents a spatial expansion on the concept of his earlier “Transparent Opacity.” Stepping into this space is like a journey into yourself, as if you were exploring previously undiscovered treasures of your future self. In EmotionalFormation, special floor installations create a labyrinth-like effect, where your eyes and body wander from one section to the next, from one sculpture to the next, discovering something new at every turn.
In this Chamber of Wonder, every perspective seems different, and each one of the six crystal structures is unique. His aim is to awaken the spirit of exploration in each of us. The highly-faceted crystal looks as if it has formed in the wild, mirroring natural growth. The overall effect is spectacular, but the details are impressive too. Atmospheric lighting completes the installation, creating a striking interplay of light and shadows.


With Yayoi Kusama's only permanent “Infinity Mirror Room” in the world - in addition to her gallery in Tokyo - Swarovski Kristallwelten has opened it's now 17th Chamber of Wonder within the realm of the iconic Giant. Kusama, one of the most popular contemporary artists in the world, is exhibiting one of her most spectacular mirror installations to date in Wattens, entitled “Chandelier of Grief.” The central element is a rotating chandelier of Swarovski crystal, whose luster comes to life in a room that is completely lined with mirrors. The room creates the illusion of being in an endless space.


For the Studio Job Wunderkammer, the eponymous designers used none other than the term “Chamber of Wonder” itself to draw inspiration. Long ago, chambers of wonder were small curiosity cabinets that held a collection of scientific exhibits; today, the term signifies a wondrous, strange, all-encompassing spatial experience. Indeed, in the Studio Job Wunderkammer – the only Chamber of Wonder in Swarovski Kristallwelten (Swarovski Crystal Worlds), by the way, with no corners – everything revolves around the holistic experience of the space. Colors, shapes, composition, and concepts invite the visitors to make their own discoveries. What at first looks like a fairground brimming with exuberant color is in reality thousands upon thousands of short stories in the shape of movement, music, reflections, and slight allusions to modern society.


The renowned soprano Jessye Norman, who over the course of her career has worked with classical music’s biggest names, such as Herbert von Karajan and Sir Georg Solti, and has been awarded no less than five Grammys, celebrated a spectacular performance at the Crystal Dome. She sang the final aria, “Thy hand, Belinda”, from Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. A separate Chamber of Wonder was dedicated to this moving performance.
A giant natural mountain crystal from Madagascar, impressive in its archaic grandeur, provided the counterpoint to the man-made art form of music and voice.


The idea behind the Eden Chamber of Wonder is to create a landscape that evokes one of the strongest primal responses in man: the forest. But Eden is no ordinary forest – it is a fantastical, 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.


In FAMOS, the Russian artist duo, Blue Noses, with their notorious, madcap performances, meets Swarovski’s legendary art of cutting crystal. Four architectural landmarks are on display in a crystalline dimension that has yet to be surpassed: the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Pyramid of Cheops in Giza, the New York Empire State Building, and the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow. The Cheops Pyramid alone weighs 105 kilograms, and the Empire State Building consists of 386 individual parts. Subtle, humorous home videos are revealed inside the exhibition pieces only by viewing them from above. The crystalline splendor is placed in contrast to the tongue-in-cheek videos by the Blue Noses. Grandeur is put into perspective through clever humor.


“55 Million Crystals” is a synthesis of ambient music, light, hand-painted picture components, and state-of-the-art computer technology that merge into a grandiose object that changes with barely perceptible transitions and produces a meditative effect. At any moment, “55 Million Crystals” is an absolutely unique original. No one else has ever seen what you see in this particular moment, and no one else will ever see it quite this way again.
In an age of high-definition monitors and powerful computers, Brian Eno does not consider an original work of art something bound to an immovable, physical object. In his holistic hypnotic experience comprised of music and colors, Eno shows that there is an infinity of individual moments and that each is unique.

With the “Heroes of Peace” installation, Swarovski Kristallwelten (Swarovski Crystal Worlds) is dedicating one of its Chambers of Wonder to the theme of peace, honoring the vision of the artist and curator André Heller. The installation invites visitors to pause for a moment, to think about life, and how each of us can make our own contribution to peace. Innovative projection technology makes it possible for visitors to see and encounter life-sized holograms of individuals who have won the Nobel Peace Prize, or who have dedicated their lives to the vital theme of peace. The “Heroes of Peace” speak to visitors, offer inspiration, and share the wisdom they have learned from their lives. “Heroes of Peace” presents Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Rigoberta Menchú, Bertha von Suttner, Pablo Picasso, Nelson Mandela, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and many others.



The name “El Sol” is Spanish for “The sun.” Fernando Romero’s installation, formed from 2,880 custom-made Swarovski crystals, is an exploration of humankind’s relationship with the sun. This large structure is exactly one billion times smaller than the sun itself. At the heart of the artwork is a sphere of LEDs, whose light is split by the inner facets of the precisely cut crystals in such a way that it creates a dynamic surface reminiscent of the sun.
The inspiration for El Sol was the remarkable geometry of the pyramids built by the Aztec and Mayan people. Romero’s creation is thus an homage to his Mexican cultural heritage. At the same time, his structure is also based on modern technologies. Three months of design and development were needed before the drawings were ready, and it took the technicians more than 350 hours to construct the artwork.


The Timeless area tells the history of Swarovski and crystal in all of its historical facets. An exciting exhibition that ranges from the company’s founding to magical moments on the stage, screen, and runway juxtaposes curiosities and glamour with nostalgia, history, and technology.
“Timeless” here means that we should forget our own time as we experience the changing spirit of the times from 1895 to the present day and observe epoch-making exhibits. The architects and museum designers at HG Merz were responsible for creating this narrative flow in cooperation with the Swarovski Corporate Archive.


The garden of the Giant contains contemporary art as well as ancient history and unique pleasures: a place where crystal becomes a holistic experience. You will discover a venue where you can experience beauty, inspiration and energy, care, and aesthetics – and legends.

Working in collaboration with artists from throughout the globe and internationally renowned architects, a park landscape emerged on 7.5 hectares of land surrounding the iconic Giant, with unparalleled art installations and new structures.

Allow yourself to be mesmerized by the sparkling Crystal Cloud, stroll along the Mirror Pool, and experience playing and climbing with all of the senses in the multiple levels of the playtower.

Playtower, playground and labyrinth
Art in the Garden
Crystal Cloud & Mirror Pool
Roman Excavations


Crystal Cloud: a natural phenomenon made of crystals
The crowning piece of the new garden is the Crystal Cloud, created by Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot.
This monumental installation, consisting of some 800,000 hand-mounted Swarovski crystals, drifts
above the black Mirror Pool, inviting visitors to pause for a moment and be inspired. With a surface of around 1,400 square meters, this mystical masterpiece is the largest work of its kind in the world. A descending path draws visitors to the Mirror Pool where the crystals’ light is captured like stars
shimmering in the nocturnal sky – even in broad daylight. They are accompanied by 2,000 sparkling
crystal fireflies dancing through the air. Towering over the center of the Mirror Pool is Tyrolean artist
Thomas Feuerstein’s sculpture “Leviathan,” made up of over 10,000 crystals. “Leviathan” refers to the Biblical sea monster on the one hand and, on the other, to the eponymous publication by Thomas
Hobbes from 1651 about government and the state. Its meaning refers to the oldest description of
society as a network: The whole is created only in a reciprocal network of relationships, symbolized here by the interplay of the crystals.



Roman Excavations: a window on the past Swarovski Crystal Worlds is a place where the past and present are intertwined. The Roman Excavations, which give a glimpse into Tyrolean life in Roman times, provide vivid testimony to this. During extensive reconstruction work in September 2014, walls and collapsed sections of Roman buildings, and other archaeological material from the Roman period came to light. According to archaeologists, these are fragments from a Roman country estate dating back to the third century A.D. The Roman Excavations are displayed as a “natural Chamber of Wonder”, and an especially exciting part of the find was a treasure of extraordinary value: 702 silver coins known as Antoninians, minted for the Roman emperors between 238 and 251 A.D, and unearthed after nearly two thousand years.

PLAYTOWER AND PLAYGROUND: The garden of the Giant enhances the existing selection of educational tools specially geared to children all around the Crystal Studio. This context inspired the creation of an entirely new building “typology” by the renowned architectural offices of Snøhetta: a playtower and an innovative open-air playground. Besides an extraordinary spatial experience, the playtower gives children all kinds of playing experiences from climbing, rocking, and swinging to sliding and even to what looks like floating. The form of playing this offers is completely new but perfectly natural. A vertical climbing net is spread over several levels arranged on top of each other; it can be climbed up to a height of just under 14 meters. Wall-mounted game boxes, designed specifically for Swarovski Crystal Worlds, engage visitors’ fine motor skills and cognitive abilities: There is a slider puzzle featuring the iconic Giant, an animal memory® game, the “Fast little animals” game box, and a labyrinth. The façade of the playtower consists of 160 crystalline facets, though no two are exactly alike. The panes are imprinted with an innovative pattern made from millions of tiny motifs which refer to the history of Swarovski. The view from inside to outside is visible at all times, just like the activities on the inside can always be seen from the outside. At night, the structure looks just like a spectacular body of light that magically enhances the reflections of the Crystal Cloud and the Mirror Pool. The play area – for children of any age – continues into an innovative open-air playground. A free-form topography of steel and wood offers children an infinite number of ways to play. A spectacular 25-meter-long climbing route was added to the playground in the garden of the Giant in 2017. Additionally, the existing water play areas were enlarged, and a ball game was installed on the wooden deck. Children can run around to their heart’s content while simultaneously improving important motor skills. The outdoor area’s design is as unique as that of the playtower, giving children in particular an opportunity to discover new games and ways of moving their bodies.



CULINARY DELIGHTS: Besides nourishment for the mind, Swarovski Crystal Worlds also offers culinary delights at Daniels Kristallwelten. Here too, the overall architectural concept follows the crystalline parameters embedded in the garden of the Giant. The whole world is welcome at Daniels Kristallwelten, which serves international, regional, and, most particularly, seasonal cuisine. Desserts are made in-house as well. The atmosphere is truly exceptional: In this airy pavilion suffused with light, designed by the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta, visitors feel as if they were sitting right in the middle of the garden of the Giant. Gently curved pillars and ceilings accentuate the impression of flowing forms and light. The design company MARCTHOMAS produced a new design for the restaurant’s public area in 2017, giving the space a unique feel, flooded with light during the day and suffused with a subtle glimmer in the evening. Guests can enjoy regional and seasonal fresh delicacies, diverse menus, and an uninterrupted view of nature. In the entrance area of Daniels Kristallwelten, a specially designed scent of fresh aromas and essences such as tangerine, jasmine, and patchouli also contributes to the multisensory experience of the visitors. The “Fat Bus” directly behind the entrance building is the work of Austrian artist Erwin Wurm. It is not only a one-of-a-kind, eye-catching sculpture, but also a fully functional hot dog stand that offers guests fortifying refreshments before or after their visit. Erwin Wurm’s trademark is his reworking of everyday objects in his art. Pickles, hot dogs, and houses, for instance, are some of the objects he has used so far. For Swarovski Crystal Worlds, the artist chose the VW bus, once the symbol of 1960s hippie culture, and now a truly timeless icon. You can still recognize the VW classic in “Fat Bus.” In keeping with the sculptor’s artistic style, however, he has uncoupled the object from its primary function, creating something that seems, to the viewer, both familiar and, at the same time, a little bit off. The sausageshaped tables created by Erwin Wurm specifically for this installation, perfectly round out the humorous effect of this work of art. The Crystal Bar in the Swarovski Kristallwelten Store, with its sparkling ambiance, serves refreshing drinks. The restaurant and Bar are freely accessible to all – without the need to first visit the Chambers of Wonder – thus making them an ideal meeting place for the whole family or business partners.



Winter in the Giant: Not such a dark time of year after all: At Swarovski Crystal Worlds the winter program is packed with lively and richly varied family events and cultural experiences. The garden will be transformed into an illuminated fairy-tale landscape with glittering sculptures by the Dutch designer Tord Boontje, rich with mystical sounds and lighting

SHOPPING IN THE GIANT: After an excursion through the Chambers of Wonder and the Timeless area – or passing directly through the Store entrance, which was designed by Snøhetta and features a captivating light and sound installation – visitors reach the Swarovski Kristallwelten Store. This spacious shopping landscape showcases the diverse nature of crystal as a material, as well as Swarovski’s remarkable power of innovation, and strong links with the world of fashion and design. The experience is heightened by an elegant scent created specifically for the shopping landscape. With a touch of glamour and sensuality, it conveys the essence of Swarovski Crystal Worlds on a completely unexpected level. The Swarovski Kristallwelten Store, designed by general contractor s_o_s architekten, is literally a landscape that meanders like a river. In some parts, the spectacular “Starry Mosaic Sky dome” provides a canopy overhead, set with black mosaic tiles handcrafted by Bisazza in innovative conjunction with Swarovski crystals. Beneath the dome lies the “City of Glass”, the creation of Melli Ink. Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch and Buckminster Fuller, this artwork presents a utopian view of the future in glass, crystal, and mountain crystal. The combination of the dome and its artwork create a unique setting for an extensive brand portfolio of the latest extraordinary fashion and couture jewelry from Swarovski. The collection includes creations by world-famous designers – each one distinctive, glamorous, and on trend. Yet, all the product brands in the Swarovski Kristallwelten Stores share one distinctive characteristic: the unmistakable Swarovski style. Since 1895, the Swarovski name has signaled sophisticated design expertise and a love of detail. Countless products crafted from or with Swarovski crystal quicken the hearts of collectors, crystal lovers, technical experts, and anyone who loves to give or receive gifts that sparkle. They all find a huge array of gift ideas and mementos at the Swarovski Kristallwelten Stores. Since the first crystal mouse was created in 1976, Swarovski has been famous worldwide for its collections of both crystal and functional items that add a special sparkle and refinement to interior spaces. Precision optical equipment from Swarovski Optik makes long-distance observation an entirely new experience. Swarovski Kristallwelten souvenir jewelry is available exclusively in the Swarovski Kristallwelten Stores and features items specifically themed to their local area. The love of detail is evident in motifs like the iconic Giant in Wattens, St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, or the Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl) in Innsbruck.