Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Amber Room At Catherine's Palace

In June 2007, My partner Dan, his parents and I spent 4 days in St. Petersburg, Russia. One of the highlights of that trip was our visit to the famous Amber room located inside Catherine’s Palace at the Tsarskoye Selo. Our tour guide was from Red October Tours which, by the way, if you ever plan to visit, is highly recommended. They're pricey, but well worth it. Red October provides private tours for very small groups (there was just the four of us and our guide and driver)that are given priority entrance without having to wait in the long lines. In addition, certain areas, such as the Hermitage treasury, are closed off to the public while you take your exclusive tour. Red October provides a truly VIP experience. The tour guides are well versed in their history and speak very good English.

There is a rich history involving the Amber room. It's been herald by some as one of the great wonders of the world.

The room's origin begins with King Frederick William of Prussia who gave Peter the Great the original inlaid amber panels after Peter admired them in a room in Frederick's palace. The 16-foot jigsaw-looking panels were constructed of over 100,000 perfectly fitted pieces of amber.

The original Amber Room represented a joint effort of German and Russian craftsmen. Construction of the Amber Room began in 1701 to 1709 in Prussia.

The room was designed by German baroque sculptor Andreas Schlüter and constructed by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram and remained at Charlottenburg Palace until 1716 when it was given by Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I to his then ally, Tsar Peter the Great of the Russian Empire.

In Russia it was expanded and after several renovations, it covered more than 55 square meters and contained over six tons of amber.
During World War II the German army invaded St. Petersburg and looted the Amber room. The Nazis dismantled the amber panels and shipped them to Königsberg. Much mystery surrounds the fate of the amber room panels, and many Russians believe that they still exist somewhere in Germany.

(Original Amber room prior to the World War II invasion by Nazi Germany)

Knowledge of its whereabouts was lost in the chaos at the end of the war. Its fate remains a mystery, and the search continues.


In 1979 a reconstruction effort began at Tsarskoye Selo, based largely on black and white photographs of the original Amber Room. Russian artists began recreating the amber panels using the old techniques that were archived.

Financial difficulties to the project were solved with USD $3.5 million donated by the German company Ruhrgas AG.[11]

By 2003 the titanic work of the Russian craftsmen was mostly completed. The new room was dedicated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder at the 300-year anniversary of the city of Saint Petersburg.

Click here for a video coverage by National Geographic.


Catherine Delors said...

Wonderful! I wish I could visit...

And I gave you an award:

Chris said...

Holy moly! LOOK at those panels! What does it smell like in there?! I love this history. Thank you for sharing this. I had no idea.

I just read an L.A. Times travel article about how expensive it is to visit Russia. A latte is $8.

Coffee is basically how I measure expense...

Lorraine said...

I never been to Russia so thanks for sharing your photos with us all..what a magnificent room and the talent of artisans restoring it

Andre said...

I saw this before and its very beautiful up close. Very good post.

Paris Atelier said...

WOw! That is just breathtaking. I was never really interested in visiting Russia, until now! It looks so interesting! A perfect post...again! Thank you!

Paris Atelier said...

Hello My Friend, it's always so good to hear from you! I'm the same way with chandeliers! I even have a little one in my closet, I sneak them in wherever I can. I love your nickname! My husband calls me Liberace! FYI, he's not that funny :)

My little one is great! I cannot believe how fast they grow and how much they know! It blows me away! He just turned one on Christmas day, so that was fun, he loved his Christmas. I'm taking him to his one year doctor's appt in a little while.

That's exciting news! I hope it all comes into place for you guys. Who knows when your both ready the opportunity may not be there & biological! That's incredible, he's such a lucky boy to be with you two. I'll keep good thoughts for all four of you, I do hope all goes well. It's a special opportunity but a big decision.
Good thoughts & best wishes to you My Chandelier!

Cote de Texas said...

Wow - you saw it in person!!!! Lucky you!! It's been a dream of mine to see it - but I'll never make it to Russia. haha!!

thanks for your comment- one night I left you comments all over your blog and told you that I was going to be doing one on the Four Seasons.

Thanks again. I can't get over that you were able to go to Russia to see it.

Queen of the Armchair aka dzintrastitcheries said...

Hi...just cruising by...this is breathtaking!!! Dzintra