The Amber Room (German Bernsteinzimmer, Russian ßíōāđíā˙ ęîėíāōā) in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoe Selo is a complete chamber decoration of amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors. Due to its singular beauty, it was sometimes dubbed "The Eighth Wonder of the World."
It was made in 1701 at Charlottenburg, the Berlin palace of Friedrich I, the first king of Prussia, at the instigation of his second wife, Sophie Charlotte. The concept of the room and its design was by Andreas Schlüter. It was crafted by Gottfried Wolfram , master craftsman to the Danish court of King Frederick IV of Denmark.
It did not, however, remain at Charlottenburg for long. Tsar Peter the Great admired it on a visit and in 1716, Friedrich Wilhelm I, the first king's son, presented it to him and in that act cemented a Prussian-Russian alliance against Sweden.
In 1755 Tsarina Elizabeth Petrovna had it transferred and installed, first in the Winter Palace, and then in the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo near St. Petersburg. From Berlin, Frederick II the Great sent her more Baltic amber in order to piece out the originals in the new design by the tsarina's Italian court architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli.
The Amber Room represented a joined effort of German and Russian craftsmen. After several other 18th-century renovations, it covered more that 55 square meters and contained over six tonnes of amber. It took over ten years to construct.
Shortly after the beginning of Operation Barbarossa in World War II, the Amber Room was hidden behind mundane wallpaper to keep Nazi forces from seizing it. These attempts failed, however, when Nazis disassembled the fragile Amber Room and moved it to a castle in Königsberg for display.
Königsberg was very heavily bombarded by British forces, then destroyed further by the Soviets. The Bernsteinzimmer was never seen again, though reports have occasionally surfaced stating that components of the Amber Room survived the war.
There are conflicting reports that the Amber Room was destroyed by bombing, buried not far from Berlin, smuggled onto a Nazi ship or submarine which was sunk by Allied forces, or hidden near the Baltic Sea.
In 1979 a reconstruction effort began, based largely on black and white photographs of the original Amber Room. Financial difficulties were helped with money donated by a German agency. 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 St. Petersburg.
In Kleinmachnow, near Berlin, is a miniature Bernsteinzimmer fabricated after the original. The Berlin miniature collector Ulla Klingbeil had this copy made of original East Prussian amber. The exhibit fee at Europarc Dreilinden is donated to the Arilex-Verein (foundation) to aid handicapped children.
- Scott-Clark, Catherine and Levy, Adrian (2004). The Amber Room. Atlantic Books, London. ISBN 1-84354-340-0.
The Amber Room is American author Steve Berry 's debut novel. It was published in 2003, and has since been followed up by The Romanov Prophecy in 2004. The story explores the mystery behind the Amber Room's disappearance at the end of World War II.
The Amber Room is also the name of Catherine Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy's investigative, non-fiction book about the disappearance of the Amber Room. It was published in 2004.