When a town offers visitors more than 1,000 years of history, it’s hard imagining it becoming more mesmerizing. But the internationally acclaimed French light artists Spectaculaires – Allumeurs d’Images have done just that with one of South Tyrol’s most lovely mountain gems.
Through state-of-the-art lighting effects, these visual wizards transform Brixen’s (also known as Bressanone) historic architecture twice a year into an even more enchanting landscape.
During the holiday season visitors to Brixen’s cozy Christmas market can also be whisked away to a fantasy world through a production called “Soliman’s Dream”. Taking place in the courtyard of the 13th century Bishop’s Palace (Hofburg), the show dazzles ones eyes and ears by creatively re-imagining the time when Brixen welcomed a most unusual guest: an elephant.
In 1551, Soliman, a magnificent Asian bull, was on the last leg of his long journey from Portugal to Vienna. A gift from King John III of Portugal to his nephew, Archduke Maximilian of Austria, Soliman no doubt needed a rest before continuing his trek through the Alps to his new home in the north.
Brixen welcomed him with open arms. Arriving in the village just before Christmas, an innkeeper provided a home for the young bull for 14 days. Those two weeks left quite an impression on this charming medieval hamlet. Nearly 500 years later, Brixen still celebrates Soliman’s journey.
In fact, the inn where Soliman stayed still stands and welcomes guests to this day. Appropriately named Hotel Elephant, a centuries-old fresco on the oldest part of the hotel’s facade continues to tell the tale of what was certainly an exotic and magical creature to the residents of Brixen at the time.
Celebrating Water through Light
On our visit to Brixen this past spring we were lucky enough to enjoy another show by the Spectaculaires – Allumeurs d’Images called “WoW – World of Water”. The production was part of the town’s Water Light Festival. An unforgettable event that artistically transforms this 1,000+ year old town at the speed of light.
For nearly three weeks in May, the heart of Brixen comes alive at night with an hypnotic array of lights fused with water and artwork. The festival includes concerts and 20 fountains elegantly adorned in light throughout the historic center of Brixen.
The festival attractions are connected by a blue line, which allowed us to easily wander the oldest streets in all of South Tyrol.
Plunging into a World of Water
Just after dusk we settled into a quaint courtyard (formerly part of a prison) located next to The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and San Cassiano (the largest church in Brixen and first erected in 980), to watch the Spectaculaires – Allumeurs d’Images show.
The four walls surrounding us soon ignited into a myriad of colors in rhythmic harmony with the show’s beautifully arranged music by the Spanish artist izOReL. Swirling images celebrating the joy of water came to life before us. Waves of notes and scenes immersed in watery hues washed over our eyes and ears.
Within no time it was clear that “WoW” was an apt name for this remarkable production. The riveting blend of music and imagery amidst the backdrop of ancient walls created a true sense of wonder.
Taking photos and video of the show is not only permitted, but encouraged. Below you’ll find a few of our favorite images — poetically illustrating the value of water in our world.
Let Enchantment Be Your Guide
Brixen beams with charm no matter the season, but the holidays are an especially beautiful time in this corner of South Tyrol. Wandering the town’s Christmas market you’ll find an endless assortment of enticing traditional South Tyrolean specialties, as well as handmade creations that highlight the Alpine craftsmanship of artisans from the region. No doubt perfect gifts for loved ones in your life.
If you have the opportunity to catch Soliman’s Dream during your visit, do so. You will not be disappointed. The show is a perfect companion to Brixen’s Christmas market. What could be a better way to get into the holiday spirit? Especially, after one has enjoyed a warm cup of mulled wine or two!
Soliman’s Dream runs from November 23, 2017 – January 7, 2018. Multiple shows are available each day beginning at 5:30 PM.
If heading to South Tyrol is not an option this winter, don’t despair. There are plenty of other times to allow Brixen to enchant you. The Water Light Festival returns next May. Keep an eye out for more details on the festival here at Throne & Vine. Brixen and the event are a must add to every South Tyrol trip itinerary.
Getting to Brixen is easy. It is located right off Autostrada A22 and is just 30 minutes northeast of Bolzano. We had no problems finding parking near the town center. Concerned about driving? Don’t be. Anyone with common sense and a little pre-trip prep can handle it. Check out our post on driving in Italy for practical tips.
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