In the center of Warsaw, a two hundred meters building, a symbol of unity with the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), will be standing. In the heart of the new, socialist Warsaw, the palace will become a cultural and scientific center of Poland. The Palace of Culture and Science will be the symbol of the highest human values, guaranteed by our system and our socialism.
This is how the communist authorities at the time of the capital city of Poland commented on the decision to build the Palace of Culture and Science. There is somewhat a love and hate relationship with the building due to the negative history involving the USSR.
Warsaw Local sent out an anonymous questionnaire to our followers to gain an understanding of what people love about Palace of Culture and Science and also what people hate about it.
Jozef Stalin was the originator of the construction of the palace. The Palace was constructed in 1955, after three years of building. About 5,000 Poles and 5,000 Russians worked on the construction site. This 237 meters building was made by steel and has 42 floors and 3288 rooms. The Palace was described by communism authorizes as a gift from the Soviet people for the Polish nation. The Palace of Culture and Science was designed by a Russian architect called Lev Rudnev. The inspiration for the Palace was American (what a paradox!) Art-deco skyscrapers. Stalin died in 1953 and there was idea to build his monument just before main entrance to the palace. This monument never arose.
The Palace is still the highest building in Poland. At the beginning, the name of the palace was “Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science”. After the de-communization of Poland and the city of Warsaw, the phrase: “Joseph Stalin” was removed from the official title.
The Palace was and still is today the center for companies, public institutions such as the university and cultural activities (concerts, cinemas, museums, theaters, universities, libraries, sports clubs, scientific institutions, Warsaw City Council, authorities of the Polish Academy of Sciences and even a swimming pool).
In front of the main entrance (on the side of Marszałkowska St.) there are two sculptures: Adam Mickiewicz (famous polish writer) and Mikołaj Kopernik (famous polish scientist).
At 2000 a clock was mounted on the palace. This millennium clock is one the biggest and highest mounted clock in the world.
On this clock face the symbol of Warsaw was added. It is hard to see by eye from the ground, but on each side you’ll see the Warsaw Mermaid
Why some People hate it
Today, as the tallest building, Palace of Culture and Science is still a symbol of Warsaw. However, Polish have mixed feelings about it. Some people love (generally younger) this building, other truly hate it (generally older generations).
Some Polish hate the building because they considered it as a symbol of Soviet domination. Some also argued that, regardless of politics, the building interfere the aesthetic balance of the old city. There are some groups living in Warsaw that believe the building should be completely removed! . There have been less radical concepts like concealing palace with office buildings and taller buildings. In some part of darker parts of history, the Palace was a popular place to commit a suicide. To counteract this, special security features was created in the building, making it impossible to jump out of the windows.
The uncle of a person we questioned for this article who was born at 1943 and had living whole life in Warsaw says, that when building was created, Polish described it as “a nightmare of a drunk confectioner”. Even today, he cannot understand why Palace is still perceived as a symbol of Warsaw. He and many other citizens of Warsaw was truly angry, when in 2007 Palace of Culture and Science was officially considered a monument.
The arguments of the opponents of the Palace are important. If there was no communism, Poland could today be a country as developed as France or England. Why, then, celebrate a building that is a symbol of communism? What’s more, you do not have to be an art expert to say that the Palace of Culture and Science is not as beautiful as e.g. Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower.
Why some People love it
From other hand there is many Polish who trully loves Palace of Culture and Science and cannot even imagine Warsaw without it. First, of all some people love it just because Palace is famous and is still the tallest building in whole country.
Some of our readers commented that we cannot mix politics with architecture, so we should not perceive palace as a symbol of communism. Others say that even if palace is a symbol of communism, we should not bother that. We can do not like it, but communism is a huge part of polish modern history, so Polish have to accept it and learn from it. Those who don’t learn by history are doomed to repeat it.
Some people just pray to this building. Many citizens go to front of the building with their wishes and their believes, that building help them makes dreams come true. Reception of the Palace regularly receive a letter with wishes and prayers.
Many of art experts says that Palace is the best example of the architecture of socialist realism in Poland. Moreover, without any doubts palace is useful. There is a lot of important institution inside it.
The Palace of Culture and Science has also been used to respect to countries of terrorist attacks by using a lighting system to show the Palace in that counties colors. Here is an example were the local council used the lighting system to promote the idea that the people England should vote to remain in the European Union in what is referred to as Brexit
What newcomers think about it?
There is popular phrase: “Foreigners like Warsaw more than its residents”. It’s fit also to the Palace of Culture and Science, because almost all newcomers really like this building. Statistics show that Palace is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Warsaw. We can see a lot of tourist and travelers taking photos with Palace in background.
The Palace is also used as a symbol of Warsaw for many things such as t-shirts, cups, key chains and other tourist related gifts.
Palace of Culture and Science – hot or not?
To sum up the Palace is a controversial monument, but If you are new in the city and you care less about it history and political connection you should see and visit this building to make you own mind up. The Palace of Culture and Science is famous and have has attractions inside. Moreover it’s the tallest building, which gives you a great view over the whole city! You can find it at downtown Warsaw at Parade Square and is normally the first building you’ll see if traveling from the airport via bus. Is the Palace of Culture and Science hot or not? After hearing both sides of the story let us know in the comment section what you think.