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The Amber Room refers to a beautiful room created out of the prehistoric substance, amber, and almost countless numbers of jewels. It’s a favorite topic of many historians because it represents one of the great mysteries of the 20th century. The room was commissioned by King Frederick of Prussia in the 18th century, but the many craftsmen involved took much longer to complete the room than was hoped. Eight years after the commission, King Frederick was dead, and his successor, King Frederick William I, was indifferent to the beauty and craftsmanship of the numerous amber panels. As an act of diplomacy, Frederick William I gave the room in its entirety to Peter the Great of Russia.
The Russians took considerable time trying to decide where in Russia the room should be placed, and ultimately settled on placing the room in the Catherine Palace. The only problem with this choice was that the amber panels made in Prussia were smaller than the room’s dimensions, so artisans, and especially those skilled in mosaics were invited to work on the project creating more panels studded with stone. When finally completed and placed in the Catherine Palace, the Amber Room was said to have been like stepping into glowing gold.
Unfortunately, although the Amber Room graced the Catherine Palace until World War II, it was not to remain there forever. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union during WWII, attempts were made to try to remove the panels from the Catherine Palace, but they were unsuccessful. Germany took the Amber Room in its entirety, and exhibited it for a year at the Konigsberg Castle in 1942.
This is when the mystery of the room really gets conspiracy theorists and historians alike excited. The Allied forces bombed the area around Konigsberg Castle, and there are several different stories about what was done to “save” the room. Some accounts say that soldiers were given the orders to completely destroy the room, and others say that the room was secreted away by various soldiers of the Nazi Army. Both stories may have some truth. A few mosaic pieces have resurfaced over the years, but the bulk of the Amber Room has either been destroyed, or remains hidden or buried.
In recent times Russia embarked on a tremendous project, the reconstruction of the Amber Room, which is now placed in the Catherine Palace and open for visits from the public. As people gaze at the honeyed colors of the reconstruction, which is by all accounts quite like the original room, they still must wonder where the original Amber Room went. This is a mystery we may never fully know, but it has certainly been the subject for many authors, with numerous theories advanced on the hidden existence of the original.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Amber Room and why is it famous?
The Amber Room was a world-renowned chamber decorated with amber panels, gold leaf, and mirrors, originally constructed in the 18th century in Prussia. It became famous for its artistic value and the intricate craftsmanship of its amber panels, which were considered an "Eighth Wonder of the World." The room's historical significance and mysterious disappearance during World War II have added to its allure, as it remains lost to this day.
Where was the Amber Room originally located?
The Amber Room was originally located in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo near St. Petersburg, Russia. It was a gift to Peter the Great in 1716 from the Prussian King Frederick William I. The room was later expanded and its amber panels were installed in the palace, where it remained until it was looted by Nazi Germany during World War II.
What happened to the Amber Room during World War II?
During World War II, the Amber Room was looted by the Nazi army. In 1941, German soldiers dismantled the room within 36 hours and shipped the panels to Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia). The Amber Room was displayed in a museum there until 1944. Its fate after that remains a mystery, as it disappeared during the chaos of the war's closing months and has not been seen since.
Has there been any effort to recreate the Amber Room?
Yes, there has been a significant effort to recreate the Amber Room. After its disappearance, the Soviet government decided to reconstruct the room. The project began in the 1970s and was completed in 2003, taking over two decades and costing over $11 million. The reconstructed Amber Room is now on display in the Catherine Palace, where visitors can appreciate a representation of its former glory.
Why is the Amber Room considered so valuable?
The Amber Room is considered valuable due to its unique artistic and historical significance. The original room was made from several tons of amber, a precious fossilized resin, and its craftsmanship represented the pinnacle of baroque art. Additionally, the mystery surrounding its disappearance during World War II has only increased its value and the public's fascination with it. The room's historical connections to royalty and its status as a cultural treasure contribute to its esteemed value.