The Amber Room
The Amber room is the gem of the Catherine Palace and one of the most famous interiors, created in the XVIII century. The history of the Amber room was steeped in mystery from the very beginning and became a peculiar symbol of relations between Russia and Germany.
The Amber room in the Catherine Palace is the only interior made of this amazing mineral that bears such poetic names as tears of the sea and the gift of the sun. No one ever tried to repeat the mosaic of the Amber room due to its expensiveness, fragility and high time cost. That’s why the Amber room was a subject of pride of every Russian tsar – from Peter I to Nicholas II.
The Amber Room
The story of the Amber room started at the beginning of XVIII century in Prussia, when the King of Prussia, Friedrich III decided to build a small summer palace in Litzenburg for his wife Charlotte-Sophia. The Queen’s favorite architect, Johann Eosander, became the interior designer of the palace and famous amber and ivory carver Gottfried Wolfram was invited from Copenhagen to help him. After the death of the Queen the creation of the amber panels was stopped and the amber room in the Palace of Litzenburg was never established.
The new king Frederick William I was known to be a stingy ruler and therefore he stopped all the expensive works on the construction of the Palace. However he ordered to put all the panels that were already created in one of the rooms of Berlin’s Royal castle.
“According to a legend, Peter was so impressed with the collection that he allegedly begged it from the King of Prussia.”
Russian Emperor Peter I saw these amber panels during his visit to Germany and admired their beauty. According to a legend, Peter was so impressed with the collection that he allegedly begged it from the King of Prussia. In fact, later it became known that the Emperor received this collection as well as Liburnica yacht from the Prussian king as a diplomatic gift. It was an expensive gift because each piece of raw amber weighing from 75 grams cost as much as a piece of silver. As a reciprocal gift, the Emperor sent 55 tall grenadiers to Prussia for the service in the Potsdam guard.
The Amber room obtained its final appearance in 1770, when Catherine II decided to make some changes to it. Eight flat panels of lower layer, eight panels under the pilasters and many other details were produced in a four year period with the use of 450 kilograms of amber.
The Catherine Palace after the World War II
During the World War II, the German occupiers deconstructed the the Amber room and took the collection to Königsberg. For several years it was exhibited in one of the halls of the Königsberg Museum. April 6, during the retreat of the German troops, the amber panels were once again dismantled and taken to an unknown destination. There are many versions of what could happen to the Amber room, but up to this day scientists have failed to unravel this mystery.
The restoration of this masterpiece began in the late 70’s and lasted almost 24 years. Finally, in May 2003, the Amber room, which is often called the eighth wonder of the world, was officially re-opened and visitors received and opportunity to visit the unique amber interior.