If you think that Mayrhofen is just the sum of its ski lifts, you are wrong. Just as you would be wrong to think that Mayrhofen in peak season is just packed with winter sports fans in brightly coloured ski and snowboard outfits. Even the summer downhill bikers with their fancy bikes with super suspension are not the be-all-and-end-all of this resort. Mayrhofen is also a fantastic base from which to explore and discover Austria and Tyrol, whatever the weather. One prime example is it’s the nearby Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens.
Crystallised Matter of Opinion
Let’s tell it how it really is: when the peak season is over and the first flowers push their heads up through the snow or, half a year later, when the days grow shorter and the first leaves fall from the tree, Mayrhofen is still a great place to be. On a grey day, when the rain has made the hiking and biking trails muddy and the sun is hiding behind the clouds, then it’s time to escape to a colourful world of sparkle and splendour. Just around an hour’s drive from Mayrhofen, in the town of Wattens, you will discover a mystical place like none other on this planet. A true piece of Austrian history yet, at the same time, completely contemporary and international: the Swarovski Crystal Worlds.
Giant Crystal Worlds
Newly designed and renovated, the "Giant", as the abstract exhibition building designed by internationally renowned Austrian artist, Andre Heller, is also known, only reopened a few months ago. Visitors will marvel at it’s truly fabulous exterior and the inner "chambers of wonder" are home to so many crystals that only the Milky Way can boast as many shining stars. Within the inner chambers of the Giant, you will discover art work from famous artists such as the Dutch designer Tord Boontje and the South-Korean sculptor Lee Bul, who have produced many works of art for Swarovski. A particularly eye-catching piece is the spectacularly sparkling crystal tree at the heart of the "Silent Light" exhibition, a collaboration between Boontje and the late British design genius, Alexander McQueen.
Amazing Lighting Effects
The crowning glory of the now twice-as-large gardens shines in splendour – with or without the sun. The oversized crystal cloud by Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot is made from 800,000 hand-set crystals and seems to float, fragile and glittering, above the dark surface of the water. The fascinating thing about this 1,400m ² installation lies in its contrast to the jet-black water symbolising day and night, and perhaps even yin and yang. The fact is that there is nowhere else in the world where the limitless possibilities of these tiny crystals is so fully explored. With the incredible Giant, chambers of wonder and fantasy gardens, the Swarovski Crystal Worlds manage to enchant young and old alike and to offer an escape from humdrum reality, if only for a day.
The artists whose work is exhibited here have also exhibited in the MOMA in New York, in the Victoria&Albert Museum in London or in the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. The chance to view the crème-de-la-crème of international artists in a small exhibition in the midst of the mountains should not be missed. Whatever the weather or the season, Mayrhofen’s visitors and locals should definitely plan a visit to the Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens. And, if all of the above hasn’t yet convinced you, the café and restaurant Daniels also serves an excellent selection of wines and gourmet food as well as sweet treats. You’ll wish your visit would never end.