The only national gem of Lithuania is amber found on the Baltic Sea shores. Baltic amber, often called the Lithuanian Gold, is famous and highly treasured all over the world. Now there is even a museum of this precious stone in Vilnius.
The Baroque building on St. Mykolo Street, where since 1995 the museum of amber has been located, is very interesting. It is connected with the early 15th century. The ground floor is 70 cm lower the nowadays street level and is supposed to be at the 17th century street level. The basement of the museum is at the level of the 14 - 15th century town. In the unearthed cellars two authentic kilns for burning ceramics dating from the 15th century and some samples of ceramics (but mostly tiles) were found. You can visit the small exhibition of the archeological finds made in the cellars.
The main exhibition of the museum is devoted to the amber. In fact, amber is a fossil resin produced by pine trees which grew in Northern Europe about 50 millions years ago. In water the resin has transformed into the amber through certain chemical processes. But there is another version of the amber formation. One of the ancient Lithuanian legends tells about love between goddess Jurate that lived in the beautiful amber palace at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, and fisherman Kastytis. God Perkunas was enraged, when he found that a mortal man had dared to love the goddess. He threw a bolt of lighting that shattered the amber palace on the bottom of the sea and drowned Kastytis together with his boat. Ever since waves have been washing ashore pieces of amber - fragments of the palace. The small pieces found after the storm are considered to be tears of goddess Jurate who couldn't forget her beloved.
In the museum, amber of different types, colors and forms is displayed. The collection of the amber with the inclusions is of particular interest. Most common inclusions in amber are small insects that were trapped in the pine resin and couldn't escape. They have been perfectly preserved and the tiniest hairs and scales can be easily seen. The pride of the collection is the unique inclusion of the snail's shell.
In the ancient time amber was widely used as an amulet. A "sun stone" was considered to have magic and curative features. Amber has been used in different cultures as a panacea from diseases of all kinds: everything from the insanity to disordered stomach. Even now many women suffering from different thyroid gland deceases wear necklaces made of unpolished amber. The scientists are investigating biostimulating characteristics of the stone, which are supposed to have positive effect on the nervous system, heart, kidneys and even believed to stimulate recovery processes in the human body.
People started to use amber as an adornment thousands years ago. The archeologists have found amulets and beads made from raw amber in the burials dating back to the Paleolithic era. Since then the craftspeople have learned how to cut, polish and shape amber to fulfill the most incredible artistic ideas. At the exhibition you will admire the courage and ingenuity of Lithuanian amber masters that have created real masterpieces. The collection of sculptures and jewelry reflects the tradition of the past ages in the amber working as well as the modern trends in amber-jewelry.
Address: St. Mykolo St., 8