This slightly blurry picture from my cheap old digital camera is the only shot I've got to remind me of my visit here in 2004, when I was backpacking through Russia. The Winter Palace is best known today for housing The Hermitage, one of the world's great museums.
Always more interested in politics than art, I remember the room where Kerensky's Provisional Government was arrested by the invading Bolsheviks in 1917 being a particular highlight of the amazing interior.
This was August of 2004, and the flag was at half-mast because the aeroplane bombings of that month had just taken place. Days later there was an attack on the Moscow underground, and just after that came the Beslan massacre. It was a tense time to be in Russia to say the least, with armed soldiers suddenly posted at bridges, subways, stations and so on. I even got hauled in for questioning while going through an underground station in Yekaterinburg, but that's a story for another day!