Palace of Culture and Science

Coordinates: 52°13′54″N 21°00′23″E / 52.23167°N 21.00639°E / 52.23167; 21.00639
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Palace of Culture and Science
Pałac Kultury i Nauki – PKiN
Pałac Kultury i Nauki 2019.jpg
Palace of Culture and Science in 2019
General information
Architectural styleStalinist
LocationWarsaw,  Poland
AddressPlac Defilad 1
Coordinates52°13′54″N 21°00′23″E / 52.23167°N 21.00639°E / 52.23167; 21.00639
Construction started2 May 1952
Completed22 July 1955
Architectural237 m (778 ft)
Roof187.68 m (615.7 ft)
Observatory114 m (374 ft)
Technical details
Floor count42
Floor area123,084 m2 (1,324,865 sq ft)
Design and construction
Architect(s)Lev Rudnev
Other information
Number of rooms3288
Public transit accessLine M1Line M2 Świętokrzyska
Line M1 Centrum

The Palace of Culture and Science (Polish: Pałac Kultury i Nauki; abbreviated PKiN) is a notable high-rise building in central Warsaw, Poland. With a total height of 237 metres (778 ft), it is the second tallest building in both Warsaw and Poland (after the Varso Tower), the sixth tallest building in the European Union and one of the tallest in Europe.[1] Constructed in 1955, the building houses various public and cultural institutions such as cinemas, theatres, libraries, sports clubs, university faculties, and authorities of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Since 2007, it has been enlisted in the Registry of Objects of Cultural Heritage.

Motivated by Polish historical architecture and American art deco high-rise buildings, the PKiN was designed by Soviet-Russian architect Lev Rudnev in "Seven Sisters" style and is informally referred to as the Eighth Sister.[2] The Palace was also the tallest clock tower in the world until the installation of a clock mechanism on the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building in Tokyo, Japan.[3]


The building was originally known as the Joseph Stalin's Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki imienia Józefa Stalina), but in the wake of destalinization the dedication to Stalin was revoked.[4] Stalin's name was removed from the colonnade, interior lobby and one of the building's sculptures.

A number of nicknames have been used to refer to the palace, notably Pekin ("Beijing", because of its abbreviated name PKiN), Pajac ("clown", a word that sounds close to Pałac) and the "Mad Confectioner's Dream" (sen szalonego cukiernika).[5] Other nicknames include the "Syringe" (strzykawka), the "Elephant in Lacy Underwear" (słoń w koronowych gatkach), the "Russian Wedding Cake" (ruski tort) and "Stalin's rocket" (rakieta Stalina).[6]



The Palace under construction in 1953
Soviets working on the building, 1954

An agreement on the construction of the building was signed between the governments of the Polish People's Republic and the Soviet Union on 5 April 1952. The tower was an imposed and unwanted "gift" to the people of Poland.[7][8] It was erected with great propagandist fanfare and named after Joseph Stalin upon its completion in 1955.[9]

To decide on the height of the building, Soviet and Polish architects gathered in the area of the Śląsko-Dąbrowski Bridge on the east bank of the Vistula river. Over the axis of the future skyscraper flew a small plane pulling a balloon behind it. The group standing near the bridge had radio contact with the pilot of the plane. Initially, the balloon flew at an altitude of 100 m (330 ft), then higher at 110 m (360 ft) and 120 m (390 ft). The Soviets, led by Lev Rudnev, decided that 120 metres (390 ft) was enough for the highest point of the city. The Poles, led by the plenipotentiary for the construction of the building and chief architect of Warsaw, Józef Sigalin, began to shout "Higher!" after every 10 m (33 ft) of balloon height increase. Finally, the tower was set at a height of 237 metres (778 ft), with a 120 m (390 ft) main structure, a 40 m (130 ft) turret and a 77 m (253 ft) spire.[10]

Construction started in May 1952 and lasted until July 1955. The tower was built by Soviet plans, using 3,500 to 5,000 Soviet workers and 4,000 Polish workers. 16 workers died in accidents during the construction.[11] The builders were housed at a new suburban complex built at Poland's expense, with its own cinema, food court, community centre and swimming pool, called Osiedle "Przyjaźni" (Neighborhood of Friendship).[4][11]

The architecture of the building is closely related to several similar skyscrapers built in the Soviet Union of the same era, most notably the main building of Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia, the House of the Free Press in Bucharest, Romania, and the Latvian Academy of Sciences Building in Riga, Latvia, which was also imposed on the country while it was occupied by the Soviets.[12] However, the main architect Lev Rudnev incorporated some Polish architectural details into the project after travelling around Poland and seeing its architecture.[11] The monumental walls are headed with pieces of masonry copied from Renaissance houses and palaces of Kraków and Zamość.[11]

Early years[edit]

The Palace of Culture and Science in 1960

At the time of its completion, the Palace of Culture and Science was the eighth tallest building in the world and the second tallest building in Europe (after the Moscow State University Building). The Palace retained these positions until 1961 and 1990, respectively.

Shortly after opening, many visiting dignitaries toured the Palace, and the building hosted the 5th World Festival of Youth and Students, held from July to August 1955. In 1956, a series of suicidal jumps began from the observation deck on the 30th floor, at a height of 114 metres (374 ft). Initially a Frenchman jumped, followed by seven Poles. After the incidents, bars were put on the terrace of the tower.

The Palace 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.[13] 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.[14]

Present day[edit]

The Palace at night during Christmas market
The Congress Hall at the Palace of Culture and Science

The building currently serves as an exhibition centre and office complex. The Palace contains a multiplex cinema with eight screens (Kinoteka),[15] four theatres (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 3,000 people called Congress Hall,[16] and an accredited university, Collegium Civitas, on the 11th and 12th floors of the building. The terrace on the 30th floor, at 114 metres (374 ft), is a well-known tourist attraction with a panoramic view of the city.[17]

Two sculptures are located in front of the main entrance: one of Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, by Ludwika Nitschowa, and another of Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz, by Stanisław Horno-Popławski.[18]

Four 6.3-metre (21 ft) clock faces were added to the top of the building ahead of the millennium celebrations in 2000. The clocks began working on 31 December 2000.[19]

The Congress Hall held the finals of Miss World 2006.[20]

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.[21] 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.[22] In December 2013, during the Euromaidan protests, it was illuminated in blue and yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian national flag as a sign of solidarity with the protesters.[23] On 29 January 2021, during the Women's Strike protests, the symbol of the movement—a single red bolt on a black background—was projected on the building.[24]


The 42nd floor of the Palace is a nesting place for peregrine falcons. In 2009, cameras were installed at the site, with a live view from the nest being available on the website of the Association for Wild Animals Sokół.[25] In 2016, after a five-year break, a pair of falcons had offspring there. In a competition of internet users, the young falcons were given the names Bazyl, Orion and Wawa. In 2017, due to the maintenance works on the spire of the building, the falcons were moved to the highest floor of the Warsaw Trade Tower skyscraper. They returned to the Palace of Culture and Science after the renovation of the spire was completed.[26]

Cats live on the second basement floor, with the administration of the Palace of Culture and Science responsible for their care. In the past, there were several dozen of them, while in June 2015 the number of these animals was 11.[27]

Since 2015, an apiary is kept on the roof of the Studio Theatre at the Palace of Culture and Science.[28]


The Palace of Culture and Science is highly controversial. It is often viewed as a reminder of Soviet influence over the Polish People's Republic, especially due to its construction during mass violations of human rights at the behest of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.[29] Porozumienie Organizacji Kombatanckich i Niepodległościowych w Krakowie,[30] a coalition of veteran and nationalist groups, as well as Law and Justice (PiS) have called for its demolition.[31] In 2009, then Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski supported the demolition of the Palace noting the expense involved in its maintenance.[32] Other prominent government leaders have continued to endorse demolition plans, including current Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Historia Pałacu" [History of the Palace]. Pałac Kultury i Nauki (in Polish). Archived from the original on 22 June 2019. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  2. ^ Sorokina, Anna (13 April 2021). "Where outside Russia can you find Stalin's skyscrapers?". Russia Beyond. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  3. ^ "NTT DoCoMo Yoyogi Building". Emporis. Archived from the original on 12 May 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  4. ^ a b BESTUFS Conference: Best Urban Freight Solutions (PDF) (Leaflet). 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
  5. ^ Zblewski, Zdzisław (6 February 2018). ""Sen szalonego cukiernika". Jak powstał Pałac Kultury i Nauki?" [The "mad confectioner's dream": how did the Palace of Culture and Science come about?] (in Polish). Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  6. ^ Wierzbicki, Piotr (7 March 2022). "Warszawski "Pekin" pochodzi z licznej rodziny. "Siedem sióstr Stalina" i nie tylko" [Warsaw's "Beijing" comes from a large family: "Stalin's seven sisters" and more]. Fakt (in Polish). Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  7. ^ Dawson, Andrew H. (1999). "From Glittering Icon to..." The Geographical Journal. 165 (2): 154–160. doi:10.2307/3060413. ISSN 0016-7398. JSTOR 3060413.
  8. ^ Jabłoński, Krzysztof (1984). Warszawa: portret miasta (in Polish). Warsaw: Arkady. ISBN 83-213-2993-4.
  9. ^ Magdalena J. Zaboroska (1998). "Stalin's "Cold War Cathedral" as Architext and Autofiction: The Identities of the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, Poland". In Craig Barton (ed.). 86th ACSA Annual Meeting Proceedings, Constructing Identity.
  10. ^ "Pałac Kultury i Nauki kończy 65 lat!". Warszawa w Pigułce (in Polish). 1 July 2020. Retrieved 28 May 2023.
  11. ^ a b c d "Historia". Pałacu Kultury i Nauki (in Polish). Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2008.
  12. ^ "Latvian Academy of Sciences, Riga, Latvia -". Retrieved 17 February 2023.
  13. ^ Tilghman, Timothy (n.d.). "Through The Past Darkly: The Stones Tumultuous 1967 European Tour". Retrieved 25 July 2008.
  14. ^ Wyszogrodzki, Daniel (n.d.). "Warsaw 1985". The Leonard Cohen Files. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  15. ^ "Wynajem sal". Kinoteka (in Polish). Archived from the original on 30 January 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  16. ^ Zaborowska, Magdalena J. (1999). "The Height of (Architectural) Seduction: Reading the "Changes" through Stalin's Palace in Warsaw, Poland". Centre for Cultural Research, University of Aarhus. Archived from the original on 12 November 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2008.
  17. ^ "Viewing Terrace "XXX Floor"". Pałac Kultury i Nauki. Archived from the original on 24 September 2020. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  18. ^ Grzesiuk-Olszewska, Irena (2003). Warszawska rzeźba pomnikowa (in Polish). Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Neriton. pp. 112–113. ISBN 83-88973-59-2.
  19. ^ "Milenijny zegar odmierza czas już 12 lat". (in Polish). 2 January 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  20. ^ "Miss World 2006". CBS News. 2 October 2006. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Stolica: ponad dwa miliony na oświetlenie Pałacu Kultury". Onet Wiadomości (in Polish). 9 September 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  22. ^ "Świąteczne oświetlenie Pałacu Kultury i Nauki w Warszawie". RMF24 (in Polish). 23 December 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  23. ^ "Pałac Kultury podświetlony w barwach Ukrainy [Zdjęcia]". Warszawa (in Polish). 5 December 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  24. ^ "Pałac Kultury i Nauki w Warszawie z czerwoną błyskawicą: "Jesteśmy z Wami"". Radio Eska (in Polish). 29 January 2021. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  25. ^ "Warszawa PKiN". (in Polish). Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  26. ^ "Cała Polska czeka na małe sokoły". Gazeta Stołeczna (in Polish). 23 April 2020. p. 3.
  27. ^ Urzykowski, Tomasz (20 June 2015). "Tajemnicze piwnice Pałacu dla zwiedzających". Gazeta Stołeczna (in Polish). p. 4.
  28. ^ "Na dachu Pałacu Kultury zamieszkały miejskie pszczoły". (in Polish). 7 August 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  29. ^ Babe, Ann (26 February 2018). "The Movement to Destroy Warsaw's Tallest Building". Next City. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  30. ^ "Ile wywrotek potrzeba, by wywieźć gruz po Pałacu Kultury i po cholerę w ogóle to robić?". Noizz (in Polish). 16 November 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  31. ^ Stawiany, Jacek (16 November 2017). "Tak wyglądałaby Warszawa bez Pałacu Kultury: Całkiem inne miasto? [Przed i po]". Metro Warszawa (in Polish). Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  32. ^ Bernatt, Maciek (17 November 2009). "Call for Demolition of Polish Palace". BBC News. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  33. ^ "Top Politicos 'Dream' of Demolishing Stalinist Palace". 15 November 2017. Retrieved 23 April 2022.

Further reading[edit]

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