Innsbruck is the capital of the federal state of Tyrol and the unofficial capital of the Alps. With a backdrop of the mountains to the north and south and a deep valley to the east and west, Innsbruck's beauty is hard to beat. It has hosted two winter Olympics and its large student population keeps the place buzzing.
Just 15 minutes away is the little town of Wattens, home of the famous Swarovski Group and Austria's oldest paper mill.
Swarovski Crystal Worlds is one of the country's most visited attractions. The crystal-themed indoor theme park was built in 1995 to mark the 100th anniversary of the company. It all began in 1892 when Daniel Swarovski invented an automatic cutting machine. He established the crystal cutting factory in 1895 and took advantage of local hydroelectricity for the energy-intensive grinding processes he had patented.
The raw material has been used since ancient times, not just for its alluring beauty, but its miraculous properties. It has been an inspiration in art, culture, fashion and adornment.
The crystal contains around 32 percent lead to maximise light refraction. Some crystals are also coated with metallic chemicals. Aurora Borealis is one of the most popular and gives the surface a rainbow oil slick appearance. Other coatings are Crystal Transmission, Volcano, Aurum and Dorado. They may be applied to part of an object and some are coated twice.
The 2004 Xilion cut optimises the brilliance of Roses crystal components with flat backs and Chatons diamond cut.
The internationally-famous Swarovski Crystal range includes sculptures and miniatures, jewellery, home décor and chandeliers. They sell beads and rhinestones to encourage manufacturers, artists and consumers to create their own designs. The beautiful crystals have added the magical finishing touch to countless bridal gowns.
Sculptures are marked with a logo. The original edelweiss flower was replaced with the swan logo in 1988.
Swarovski Crystal Worlds' water-spouting giant is the guardian of sparkling treasures created by renowned artists including Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. Visitors enter the world of wonders through its head and look in awe at the Centenar made of 310,000 carats of crystal. A 42-metre-long, 11-metre-high route is filled with 12 tonnes of glittering crystals.
The Crystal Dome is faceted with 590 mirrors with beams of light reflecting and refracting thousands of times to sounds created by Brian Eno.Planet of Crystals is a futuristic 3D attraction where planets form, disappear and take shape again.
Crystaloscope is the world's largest kaleidoscope and conveys the healing effect of some crystals. Visitors may lean against backrests and feel the effect of constant new formation of crystal images.
Winter Dream is a tree created by thousands of sparkling crystals, and Ice Passage's colours and shapes change as it is walked upon. Enchanted Forest is where crystal and its primordial relatives, fire and water, are sensuously depicted in fairytale form.
Even the restaurant and caf continue to amaze. Apart from food by highly regarded Do&Co International, there are works by Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Keith Haring and Roland Topor to provide ambience.
The very busy Swarovski Group also makes abrasive and cutting tools, reflective and luminous road markings, synthetic gemstones and optical instruments.
There are other attractions in Wattens. It has Austria's only typewriter museum and local heritage and industry museums. The annual myths and legends festival is popular with young and old.
The Inntal cycling trail from Innsbruck to Passau passes through the town, and there are beautifully restored Tirolean farmhouses to admire.
Wattens near Innsbruck, four and a half hours from Vienna.
Swarovski Crystal Worlds entry is around $13 for adults and children under 12 are free. It is open between 9am and 6.30pm every day except December 25 and January 1. It will be closed for extensions until November 30, 2007 and will re-open on December 1, 2007 with the winter festival.
Emirates has flights to Vienna.
Valid for travel between February 01 and 21, 2008 and October 4 and 31, 2008.
For more information
A 6112 Wattens
Ph: 43 5224 51080
Fax 43 5224 51080-3831
Austrian National Tourist Office
Level 1/36 Carrington Street
Ph: (02) 9299 3621
Fax: (02) 9299 3808
Ph: 1300 303 777
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