Around 1900, Carl Faberge made 50 Imperial Eggs in total, plus many others. Ten Imperial Eggs are in Moscow's Armoury Chamber, ten here in the Faberge Museum, eight are lost and the remainder are scattered across the globe. The last one to come on the market was bought by the Emir of Qatar for €30 million. He outbid a very rich Russian philanthropist who is trying to recover all Faberge Eggs outside Russia for this Museum. This beautiful piece is one of two imperial eggs made in the Art Nouveau style.
Geo: 59.7156, 30.3948
After a leisurely start we had an hour tour of the Faberge Museum. Then a 45 min drive to the re-named Pushkin Palace, home of the fabled Amber Room. This Summer Palace was built by Catherine I and vastly extended by her successors. Before the revolution Nicholas and Alexandra tried to shield their haemophiliac son from the public, and actually lived in the Summer Palace year-round for several years. And they were imprisoned there for a while after the revolution.
Then a very fine lunch, a canal cruise in the rain and home to our hotel. The 14 in our group have bonded quite strongly over our travels, and we organised a very jolly evening farewell get-together at a local pub/restaurant, followed by a nightcap at the lobby bar.
Pink Serpent EggFaberge was very particular in who he deigned to work for. This 1902 Duchess of Marlborough Egg is the only large Fabergé egg to have been commissioned by an American. It is not, therefore, an Imperial Egg. It was inspired by a Louis XVI clock with a revolving dial.
Catherine I Summer PalaceCatherine I commissioned this Palace in 1717. Her daughter Empress Elizabeth remodelled and extended it to this gigantic, 325m long building in 1756. When Catherine II The Great came to power in 1762 she deplored the excesses, halted the gilding work (already 100kg of gold was used) and adopted a more understated (relatively) style.
BallroomThis impressively dimensioned room was made to appear larger through the use of mirrors on many walls. It is now available for hire as a function centre. However, they do not relax their requirement that all visitors put on surgery-style overshoes to protect the wooden floors. Natalya said it's very amusing watching people dressed to the nines also wearing the overshoes.
AntechamberThe mosaic covered structures are fireplace chimneys that help to heat the rooms. There was also a ventilation system that allowed warmer air from the lower floor to enter the main chambers.
Amber RoomThe main attraction in the palace is the Amber Room (no pictures!) that was plundered by the Nazis during the Siege of Leningrad. It was reconstructed by the Soviets after the war. This downloaded pic is to show the style: all gold and amber. It was pretty remarkable and its reconstruction took a team of artisans many years to complete.
GardensThe gardens were not huge, but pretty and well kept. No doubt quite a challenge in the northern Russian climate.
Canal cruisePeter The Great encouraged his subjects to reduce their use of carriages and to use boats to get around the city. The number of "palaces" - huge private homes that are now mostly converted to museums or hotels or public buildings is a testimony to the huge wealth of the nobility in days gone by. This is the Faberge Museum building, a previous palace renovated for the purpose.