these walls of... amber?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My husband showed me a picture of the Amber Room yesterday. Honestly, I was not very familiar with this so-called "eighth wonder of the world." This is the room to end all decorated spaces. If I'm not mistaken it covers 11 square feet with walls of six tonnes of amber and other semiprecious stones with the value approximating $142 million. You know, in case you want to DIY it. I'm just kidding. They say that, "when the work was finished, in 1770, the room was dazzling," at least according to art historians Konstantin Akinsha and Grigorii Kozlov. "It was illuminated by 565 candles whose light was reflected in the warm gold surface of the amber and sparkled in the mirrors, gilt, and mosaics." ref

The room has a storied past involving the Nazis attempting to move it to Germany. You can read more about that in Steve Berry's book or see more via the Discovery Channel's program. Originally the room was commissioned in 1701. It was first installed at Charlottenburg Palace which was the home of Friedrich I, the first King of Prussia. It was designed by German baroque sculptor Andreas Schlüter and constructed by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram. In 1716 the King of Prussia, then Frederick William I, presented it to Peter the Great as a gift, cementing a Prussian-Russian alliance against Sweden. It was later moved by Catherine the Great to her summer palace Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg is a complete chamber decoration of amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors. ref

And all's well that ends well. Reconstruction began in 1979 at Tsarskoye Selo and was complete after a time and capital investment of only 25 years and $11 million. Dedicated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the new room marked the 300-year anniversary of St. Petersburg. Apparently you can visit this gem (literally) at the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve outside of St. Petersburg. Guess what is now on my to-do list?

So, how about these walls of... gold?

Images from here, here, here and here.
ArchitectDesign™ said...

always been such a fascainting story! And the original room disappeared -what did the nazis do with it? It's probably in someone's basement and they have no idea what it is.

Hels said...

*sigh happily* Renovation of Tsarskoye Selo was worth every penny!! And what perfect timing ... marking the 300-year anniversary of St Petersburg.

I haven't been to St Petersburg for a very long time but Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve outside St Petersburg would be one of my first stops.