Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rooms Made of Gems

The Amber Room in Russia

I was watching Oz the Great and Powerful last night and of course they were in the Emerald City. This got me to thinking about how gems are used as housing or at least in the movies. My theory was that Oz has so many emeralds that constructing a palace made entirely out of this material really wasn’t an issue. If something is plentiful you use it, kind of like bamboo flooring. Bamboo grows like a weed by the way.

This is typically how we see amber, in earrings

While the Emerald City maybe pure fantasy there is an Amber Room in Russia. The Amber Room was constructed beginning in 1701 in Prussia. It was a room intended for the Charlottenburg Palace but ultimately ended up in the Berlin City Palace. It didn’t stay there long as it was given as a gift from Prussia’s King Friedrich Wilhelm to Tsar Peter the Great of Russia. They formed an alliance against Sweden and I guess this was the bargaining “amber” chip.

Amber can be unbelievably beautiful

So all the panels were packed up and shipped to Russia and reassembled in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo near St. Petersburg. The room was eventually expanded to contain 13,000 pounds of amber. I guess if you’re going to go, go large. It was considered one of the eight wonders of the world and it was probably quite beautiful with all those amber walls, gold leaf and mirrors.

Unfortunately it met its demise during World War II when the Nazis’ looted it and took all remnants to Germany. The panels were never found and new reconstruction of the Amber Room began in 1979 and was finished in 2003, quite the project. I believe that the amber was broken down when it was looted which is why they never found it. The amber panels were brittle and probably didn’t come down without a fight, such a shame. Someday I’m going to visit Russia to see this amazing room made of amber, it will be just like the Wizard of Oz.

The detail in the Amber Room is amazing

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