Catherine's palace in Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), the Amber room
Catherine's Palace in Tsarskoye Selo is one of the most luxurious and grandiose Palaces in the suburbs of the St.Petersburg. It was the most popular summer residence of Russian royalty. Tsarskoye Selo was a wedding gift from Russian tsar Peter the Great to his wife Ekaterina (Catherine Ι). Small house constructed in residence for Catherine received her name. Later it was completely reconstructed by their daughter Elizabeth. In 1756 the architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli turned the small house into a grand baroque Palace striking foreign guests with over-the-top Imperial decor. The French diplomat noted that, an architect missed one detail: "a glass case for extra protection". More than 100 kilograms (200 pounds) of gold were used to gild the stucco facade and numerous statues placed on the roof. It was rumoured that the roof of Catherine's Palace was constructed of solid gold. On a bright sunny day Catherine's Palace seemed sparking. The English traveller called it "the completest triumph of barbarous taste".
Catherine's Palace is famous not only for breath-taking gold-leaf decoration but also for it's legendary Amber room. Masters started to make amber panels for Prussian king Frederick I, but he died before the work was completed. His son gave uncompleted amber panels as a present to Peter the Great because of there useless. Russian tsar was happy. But when he realized that he was given a single pieces of amber and unfinished decorations, he put this amber away. His daughter Elizabeth transferred all amber to her new Catherine's Palace and amber room was completely done.
After Elizabeth's death the next owner of Catherine's Palace, Catherine the Great, reconstructed some interior decorations according to her tastes - in a classical style. Palace became her favourite summer residence where she spent her time from may till september. In her time Catherine's Park in front of the Palace received new pavilions and was reconstructed in English style.
Before the Bolshevik Revolution, a lot of Russian tsars liked to stay in Catherine's Palace. After that the Palace became a state museum.
In 1937, the town of Tsarskoye Selo, was renamed into Pushkin in honor of the famous Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin who had graduated from the Imperial Lyceum (school for noble young boys) and liked to visit this residence after that.
In 1941 Pushkin was occupided, Catherine's Palace was taken over by Nazi forces, ransacked and used as army barracks. When Nazis finally retreated in January 1944, Catherine's Palace was burnt and was ready to blow up. The Amber room was taken to Germany and traces of it disappeared.
After many years of futile seeking, in 1979 the Soviet government ordered to start the recreation of the Amber room. It took 24 years to make a new Amber room. In 2003 it was publicly opened.
The restoration of the Palace and Catherine's Park was started soon after the War. Today 29 of the 52 palace rooms are restored. And the restoration is still in progress.
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