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Amber Room: History and Secrets of a Priceless Creation


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Amber Room: History and Secrets of a Priceless Creation


For more than 2 centuries, everyone who had the good fortune to visit the Tsarskoye Selo Museum-Reserve near St. Petersburg, admired and mesmerized with its splendor room, in which, it seemed, and the walls were not visible due to the abundance of decoration made of priceless amber, gold and semi-precious stones. Only "tears of the sea", as the sun amber is also called, about 6 tons were used in the decoration of the hall. The disappearance of the Amber Room without a trace is associated with the time of the invasion of Russia by the Nazis, who staged a real hunt for works of art.

At first, the amber office adorned the chambers of the Summer Garden, the interior of the Winter Palace, but in 1755, by order of the daughter of Peter I, Elizabeth, it was dismantled and transported to Tsarskoe Selo, where the best craftsmen of that time were involved in the restoration of the priceless decor. The restored and expanded office was transformed into a small hall for the reception of the queen's associates, then, during the reign of Alexander II, into a kind of museum, where the monarch kept his amber trophies. Throughout the years of its existence, the Amber Room was not only carefully preserved, but also supplemented with many priceless elements.

By the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the state of the decoration of the Amber Room was not very good: mirrors and mosaic panels faded, the top layer of precious tapestries and decorative shields crumbled. This state of amber prevented the keepers of the palace from evacuating the room along with the other treasures of the palace. It was decided to hide it or at least somehow reliably decorate it: people tried to paste over the walls with wallpaper, and hide the protruding elements under a layer of cotton wool and gauze. But it did not help. The Nazis, who were robbing the palace, stumbled upon the priceless creation of the old masters and, without much ceremony, dismantled the Amber Room into random pieces. It was transported to the German Königsberg and hastily mounted in one of the premises of the Royal Castle.

Where did the Amber Room disappear

When the course of the war changed, Soviet troops went on the offensive and approached Konigsberg, representatives of the Third Reich decided to remove all the decor from the walls, disassemble what could be broken into fragments, put them in boxes and bury them, presumably somewhere in the castle territory ... The leadership of the Soviet Union did not have exact information about the location of the room, so when the castle was destroyed during the bombing, it was decided that the room was also destroyed.

Rumors and speculations that the containers were not hidden in the castle, but taken out of it, began to appear during the war, and over time they only multiplied. The most common version was that there is a secret bunker in East Prussia, where the precious details of the lost amber room were preserved.

Making a copy of the Amber Room

Since a lot of drawings and photographs have survived, from which it was possible to examine in detail the interior of the lost masterpiece, the Soviet government decided to restore the Amber Room. The work began in 1979 and stretched for more than one decade, since many technologies for working with amber and semi-precious stones were, if not lost, then almost forgotten. The large-scale project was partially funded by Germany. Almost 25 years later, visitors were able to see with their own eyes a skillfully made analogue of the famous Amber Room.

All these years, attempts to find the lost original have not stopped, however, the number of alleged places has increased to almost 600. The mystery of the lost pearl of the imperial palace haunts scientists and all kinds of adventurers, books are written about it and new legends are made. From time to time, sensational news gets into the press that a precious cache has been found, but the mystery of the disappearance and finding of one of the most valuable works of world art has not yet been solved.

Amber Room History Facts:

  • 1701 - according to the plan of the German Baroque architect Johann Friedrich Eosander von Goethe, the Dane Gottfried Wolffram began to create the amber cabinet
  • 1709-1711 - Danzig craftsmen Ernst Schacht and Gottfried Turau finish work
  • 1716 - King of Prussia Frederick Wilhelm I presents Peter I with an invaluable cabinet as a diplomatic gift in order to strengthen peace
  • 1717 - carefully transported fragments of the cabinet are collected and installed in the lower hall of the Human Chambers in the Summer Garden of St. Petersburg
  • 1743 - by order of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, the chief architect Rastrelli, together with the master Martelli, began work to change and add new decorative details to the amber cabinet
  • 1755 - a room in the imperial palace is equipped for a renovated room
  • 1770 - The completely renovated Amber Room takes its place in Tsarskoe Selo
  • 1833, 1865, 1893-1897, 1933-1935 - restoration
  • 1941 - the occupation and plundering of the Catherine Palace, the dismantled room was taken to East Prussia
  • 1945 - the disappearance of containers with fragments of the room
  • 2003 - opening of the exposition in Tsarskoe Selo.
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