Apologies for the quality of this photo, but it was taken during my first trip to Russia, when I only had disposable cameras. This is Catherine Palace, the summer residence of the Russian Tsars, and is located 25km southeast of St. Petersburg. It was originally built at the request of Catherine I, the second wife of Peter the Great. The palace was later demolished, however, on the orders of her daughter, Empress Elizabeth, who desired that it be rebuilt to reflect a more modern style. The present palace, completed in 1756, is the result of this construction project. Much of the palace was destroyed during World War II, when the retreating German army set it ablaze. Fortunately, the Soviet and Russian governments have restored much of the palace, including, most recently, the famed Amber Room.