Palace of Culture and Science

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Palace of Culture and Science
Pałac Kultury i Nauki
PKiN widziany z WFC.jpg
General information
Type Multi-function
Architectural style Stalinist
Location Warsaw, Poland
Address Plac Defilad 1
Coordinates 52°13′54″N 21°00′23″E / 52.23167°N 21.00639°E / 52.23167; 21.00639Coordinates: 52°13′54″N 21°00′23″E / 52.23167°N 21.00639°E / 52.23167; 21.00639
Construction started 2 May 1952
Completed 22 July 1955
Antenna spire 231 m (758 ft)
Roof 187.68 m (615.7 ft)
Observatory 114 m (374 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 42
Floor area 123,084 m2 (1,324,865 sq ft)
Design and construction
Architect Lev Rudnev
Other information
Number of rooms 3288

The Palace of Culture and Science (Polish: Pałac Kultury i Nauki, also abbreviated PKiN) in Warsaw is the tallest building in Poland and the eighth tallest building in the European Union. It is 231 metres (758 ft)[1] tall, which includes a 43-metre high spire.

The building was conceived as a "gift from the Soviet people to the Polish nation", and was completed in 1955. The structure was built in three years according to the design of the Soviet architect Lev Rudnev. Architecturally, it is a mix of Stalinist architecture, also known as Socialist Classicism, and Polish historicism inspired by American art deco skyscrapers. Currently it is the headquarters of many companies and public institutions, such as cinemas, theaters, libraries, sports clubs, universities (including Collegium Civitas), scientific institutions and authorities of the Polish Academy of Sciences.



The building was originally known as the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki imienia Józefa Stalina), but in the wake of destalinization the dedication to Stalin was revoked.[1] Stalin's name was removed from the interior lobby and one of the building's sculptures.


Construction started in 1952 and lasted until 1955. A gift from the Soviet Union to the people of Poland, the tower was constructed, using Soviet plans, almost entirely by 3500 workers from the Soviet Union, of whom 16 died in accidents during the construction.[2] The Soviet builders were housed at a new suburban complex complete at Poland's expense with its own cinema, food court, community centre and swimming pool.[1][3] The architecture of the building is closely related to several similar skyscrapers built in the Soviet Union of the same era, most notably the Moscow State University. However, the main architect Lev Rudnev incorporated some Polish architectural details into the project by traveling around Poland and seeing the architecture.[2] The monumental walls are headed with pieces of masonry copied from Renaissance houses and palaces of Kraków and Zamość.[2]

Shortly after opening, the building hosted the 5th World Festival of Youth and Students. Many visiting dignitaries toured the Palace, and it also hosted performances by notable international artists, such as a 1967 concert by the Rolling Stones, the first by a major western rock group behind the Iron Curtain.[4] In 1985, it hosted the historic Leonard Cohen concert, surrounded by many political expectations, which were avoided by Cohen in his prolonged introductions during the three-hour show.[5]

Four 6.3-metre clock faces were added to the top of the building ahead of the millennium celebrations in 2000.

Present day[edit]

The tower
The Palace of Culture and Science at night.

As the city's most visible landmark, the building was controversial from its inception. Many Poles initially hated the building because they considered it to be a symbol of Soviet domination, and at least some of that negative feeling persists today. Some have also argued that, regardless of its political connotations, the building destroyed the aesthetic balance of the old city and imposed dissonance with other buildings. This contrast has been lessened somewhat over the years with the construction of several skyscrapers in the vicinity. Despite the controversies, the Palace became an internationally recognized symbol of Warsaw.

Varsovians still commonly use nicknames to refer to the palace, notably Pekin ("Beijing", because of its abbreviated name PKiN), Patyk ("stick") and Pajac ("clown", a word that sounds close to Pałac). Other less common names include Stalin's syringe, the Elephant in Lacy Underwear, or even the Russian Wedding Cake.[6][7] The terrace on the 30th floor, at 114 metres, is a well-known tourist attraction with a panoramic view of the city.

The building currently serves as an exhibition center and office complex. The Palace contains a multiplex cinema with eight screens,[8] four theaters (Studio, Dramatyczny, Lalka and 6. piętro), two museums (Museum of Evolution and Museum of Technology), offices, bookshops, a large swimming pool, an auditorium hall for 3000 people called Congress Hall,[9] and an accredited university, Collegium Civitas, on the 11th and 12th floors of the building.

The Congress Hall held the finals of Miss World 2006.

In 2010, the illumination of the building was modernized and high power LED lights were installed, allowing the Palace to take various colours at night.[10] The first use of the new lighting was during Christmas in 2010, when the Palace was illuminated in green and white to resemble a Christmas tree.[11] In December 2013, during the Euromaidan protests, it was illuminated in yellow and blue, the colors of the Ukrainian national flag as a sign of solidarity with the protesters.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Warsaw Palace of Culture and Science" (PDF). Best Urban Freight Solutions. May 24, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c "History of PKiN in a nutshell". Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  3. ^ Pałac Kultury i Nauki "Historia" at the PKN official website.
  4. ^ Timothy Tilghman. "The Stones Tumultuous 1967 European Tour". Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  5. ^ "Leonard Cohen in Warsaw (1985) by Daniel Wyszogrodzki". 1985-03-22. Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  6. ^ "Warsaw: Don't Miss". Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  7. ^ Małgorzata Barwicka (7 March 2007). "Pałac pod lupą". (in Polish). Tygodnik Ciechanowski. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  8. ^ "Kinoteka: Wynajem sal". Retrieved 2015-01-29. 
  9. ^ Magdalena J. Zaborowska. "The Height of (Architectural) Seduction: Reading the "Changes" through Stalin's Palace in Warsaw, Poland". Centre for Cultural Research, University of Aarhus. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  10. ^ "Stolica: ponad dwa miliony na oświetlenie Pałacu Kultury" (in Polish). Onet Wiadomości. 2010-09-10. Retrieved 2015-02-01. 
  11. ^ "Świąteczne oświetlenie Pałacu Kultury i Nauki w Warszawie" (in Polish). 2010-12-23. Retrieved 2015-02-01. 
  12. ^ "Pałac Kultury podświetlony w barwach Ukrainy [ZDJĘCIA]" (in Polish). Warszawa. 2013-12-05. Retrieved 2015-02-01. 

External links[edit]