Russian craftsmen in Kaliningrad shall recreate parts of the legendary Amber Room, a Tsarist-era antiquity looted by Nazi Germany during World War II. The restoration plan by the Kaliningrad Oblast government is part of a campaign to stop illegal mining in amber-rich areas near the Baltic coast. The region has the world’s largest-known amber deposits. Experts estimate that criminals mine 60-100 tons of amber illegally every year in Kaliningrad Oblast, which holds more than 90 percent of the world’s total known amber reserves and is home to the world’s only natural amber strip-mine.
King Friedrich I invited German craftsmen to decorate the main hall of his palace with amber panels shortly after his accession to the Prussian throne in 1701. However, after the king’s death in 1713, his son Friedrich Wilhelm I put an end to the expensive work, and put the amber panels on the walls of a small room of the Stadtschloss (City Palace) in Berlin. Three years later, he gave the panels as a present to Tsar Pyotr Veliki, who stored them in his Summer Palace, at Petergof. It was only in 1743 that Tsaritsa Yelizaveta Petrovna decided to use the amber panels to decorate one of her main chambers in the Winter Palace. Craftsmen expanded on the original decorations, eventually turning them into the legendary Amber Room, often referred to as the “eighth wonder of the world”.
The Wehrmacht looted the decorations during World War II, and took them to Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), where they were lost in the fierce fighting and air raids at the end of the war in 1945. Eventually, the Russians only rediscovered two small parts of the room’s decoration and returned them to Russia. According to the Kaliningrad Oblast Culture Minister Svetlana Kondratyeva, the Amber Room replica will be in the 1899 building of the Königsberg State Amber Factory, which, following its renovation, will then house the Kaliningrad Amber Museum. Museum visitors will be able to watch the craftsmen at work replicating the room through glass panels.
14 May 2013