Excursion to Pushkin
We are going to visit the Catherine Palace created by the Empress Elizabeth of Russia’s favourite architect — Rastrelli. The Catherine Palace in Pushkin is an outstanding monument of the Russian architecture. The palace was built upon Rastrelli’s project from the middle of 1750s.
We will see interiors of the Catherine Palace known for extraordinary splendor of decoration in baroque style. Handcrafted wooden carving created by Russian masters who followed Reastrelli’s design adds to the palace’s brilliance and individuality. Its infinite diversity made it look like a magnificent frame that surrounded the walls of the palace’s ceremonial enfilade. Russian silk decorative fabric, lacquers, Chinese wallpapers, colored stone, fine art paintings were inserted into these frames and were an obligatory part of the interior design at that time.
We will walk up the stairs of white Carrara marble into the Throne hall with a total area of more than 950 m² decorated with gold-plated carving and a ceiling piece glorifying Russia by Valeriani; through the Golden Enfilade, the White Dining-Room, the Chevaliers' Dining-Room, the Picture Hall, the Chinese Drawing-Room of Alexander I, and the famous Amber Room, which is often called the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The famous "Amber Room" was presented to Peter the Great by Frederick William I of Prussia in 1716. Skillful architects and amber masters of the time created the room: Andreas Schlüter, Gottfried Wolfram, Gottfried Turau, Ernst Schacht and others. Peter sent 55 grenadier soldiers and a bone chalice he made himself to Prussia to return the favor. During Elizabeth of Russia’s reign the Amber Room was moved to the Winter Palace. In 1750 Elizabeth decided to dismantle the Amber Room and create a new one in the Catherine Palace.
All transparent amber pieces were enchased and a shiny golden foil was placed under them during creation the room. Mirror half columns were placed between the amber panels; Berlin masters followed Rastrelli’s project to create an elegant one-legged amber table. The room was lighted by 565 candles in bronze and wooden lamps. The room mesmerized visitors with warm light and floating colors. In 1941, during the Second World War, Pushkin was occupied by Nazis who stole the famous Amber Room.
The amber panels were moved to Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) and placed in one of the halls of the Königsberg Royal Palace. After East Prussia was freed from Nazis, the Amber Room disappeared. There were numerous attempts to search for it after the war, but with no luck. The restoration of the Catherine Palace started around the same time. In 1980 the Amber Room opened to the public, but was incomplete. May 31st 2003, timed to Saint Petersburg’s 300th birthday, the recreated Amber Room was open. Almost 6 tons of amber were used in the process. It was quarried in Yantarny village in Kaliningrad oblast (we will visit this village). In 1997 two authentic items of the original Amber Room were returned from Germany: "Touch and Smell" mosaic and the marquetry chest-of-drawers.
After leaving the palace we will pass through the Catherine Park, see the ponds, summer palaces and park pavilions. We are sure that the excursion will be a truly unforgettable experience.