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Poland: Palace of Culture

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Palace of Culture | Poland | Europe

[Visited: May 2006]

Even though the building is not located in the historical city centre, the Palace of Culture and Science is hard to miss for any visitor to Warsaw. It is high and enormous, a colossal building and still a landmark in the capital of Poland. Designed and built by Russians with Russian materials, the building was finished in the mid 1950s, and initially called the Stalin Palace, but before the decade was out, the building obtained its current name. You immediately recognize the Stalinist and Soviet style, and for this reason, the building has never been loved by the Poles.

Picture of Palace of Culture (Poland): Palace of Culture seen from below

In fact, it quickly acquired several nicknames that always had a negative connotation, like Puppet or Pekin. Even though there have been persistent proposals to tear the building down, especially since the end of a divided Europe, the Culture Palace has survived so far. And since the surrounding area has been a construction site for years, from which skyscrapers come up to join the Culture Palace as defining buildings for the Warsaw skyline, the buildling is becoming less ominous. More than anything, it is a curiosity for visitors, a contrast with the flashy modern design buildings surrounding it, a contrast between old and new times for Warsaw.

Picture of Palace of Culture (Poland): Main tower of the Palace of Culture

In fact, the tower is some 231 metres in height, with a further 43 metres of the spire that sits on top, and when you walk around it, the building quickly gains in imminence. The surrounding buildings seem no longer to be there to play down the impact of the building, and the solid grey walls dwarf you completely. The building has a very effective and simple style, with harsh elements and little elegance. The brutal Soviet style statues do little do mitigate this effect. The building is still being used as a culture centre (the Rolling Stones performed here in 1967!), offering cinemas, theatre, museums, conference halls, etcetera. But with time, the building is becoming a museum piece itself.

Picture of Palace of Culture (Poland): Statues of the Palace of Culture
Picture of Palace of Culture (Poland): Red light in the ceiling of the cinema of the Palace of Culture
Picture of Palace of Culture (Poland): Columns and arches defining one of the sides of the Palace of Culture
Picture of Palace of Culture (Poland): Tower of the Palace of Culture and surrounding park
Picture of Palace of Culture (Poland): Tower of the Palace of Culture seen from below
Picture of Palace of Culture (Poland): Columns and statue in the Palace of Culture
Picture of Palace of Culture (Poland): Statues in the walls of the Palace of Culture
Picture of Palace of Culture (Poland): Palace of Culture defining the skyline of Warsaw
Picture of Palace of Culture (Poland): Detail of the Palace of Culture: grey tones and harsh style
Picture of Palace of Culture (Poland): Palace of Culture seen from below

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