Palace of Culture and Science

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Palace of Culture and Science
Pałac Kultury i Nauki – PKiN
20 PKiN Warszawa 270915.jpg
General information
Architectural styleBaroque[1]
socialist realism[1]
LocationWarsaw, Poland
AddressPlac Defilad 1
Coordinates52°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 started2 May 1952
Completed22 July 1955
Architectural237 m (778 ft)
Antenna spire237 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
ArchitectLev Rudnev
Other information
Number of rooms3288

Palace of Culture and Science (Polish: Pałac Kultury i Nauki; abbreviated PKiN) is a controversial high-rise building in Warsaw, Poland. Constructed in 1955, it is the center for various companies, public institutions and cultural activities such as concerts, cinemas, theaters, libraries, sports clubs, universities, scientific institutions and authorities of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Motivated by Polish historicism and American art deco high-rise buildings, the PKiN was designed by Soviet architect Lev Rudnev in "Seven Sisters" style and is informally referred to as the Eighth Sister. The Palace of Culture and Science is the tallest building in Poland, the eighth-tallest building in the European Union and one of the tallest on the European continent. It is 237 metres (778 ft) tall.[2]

The Palace is controversial in Poland and viewed as a "harsh reminder of Soviet occupation" which was constructed during mass violations of human rights during Warsaw's occupation by Stalin-led regime.[3] Locals often say that the Palace's observation deck has "the city’s best view because it’s the only place in Warsaw with no view of the building."[3] A coalition of veteran and national groups in Poland has called for its demolition as "affront to the validity of the Polish state", adding that it is a "reminder that Poles are slaves to the Soviets".[4]

In 2009, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski called for the demolition of the Palace noting the expense involved in its maintenance. Speaking days after a celebration of the destruction of the Berlin Wall, said demolition would similarly be a "moment of catharsis" for the country.[5] Other prominent government leaders have continued to call for its demolition including Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki who said he "supports the idea of ​​removing this vestige of communist domination from the centre of Warsaw" and that it's something he's been dreaming about for 40 years.[6]



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.[7] Stalin's name was removed from the colonnade, interior lobby and one of the building's sculptures.

Varsovians still commonly use nicknames to refer to the palace, notably Pekin ("Beijing", because of its abbreviated name PKiN), and Pajac ("clown", a word that sounds close to Pałac). Other less common names include Stalin's syringe, the Elephant in Lacy Underwear, Russian Wedding Cake, or even Chuj Stalina (Stalin's Dick").[8][9]

However, only Pekin was the popular alternative name. Also, despite some later confusion, the name patyk (a Polish word for stick) didn't stand for PKiN but for the 10-metre-high (33 ft) signpost, in the corner of the Parade Square, near the intersection of Marszałkowska Street and Jerusalem Avenue. The four walls of the signpost display the names of several large or important cities around the world, together with the distances from the signpost itself.


Palace in 1954, during construction
Palace in 1960
South view of the Palace

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, by 3,500 to 5,000 Russian workers and 4,000 Polish workers. Sixteen workers died in accidents during the construction.[10] The Russian 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).[7][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. However, the main architect Lev Rudnev incorporated some Polish architectural details into the project after traveling around Poland and seeing the architecture.[10] The monumental walls are headed with pieces of masonry copied from Renaissance houses and palaces of Kraków and Zamość.[10]

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.[12] 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.[13]

Four 6.3-metre (21 ft) clock faces were added to the top of the building ahead of the millennium celebrations in 2000.[citation needed]

Present day[edit]

The Palace of Culture and Science at night during Christmas market

The building currently serves as an exhibition center and office complex. The Palace contains a multiplex cinema with eight screens,[14] 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 3,000 people called Congress Hall,[15] 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.[citation needed]

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

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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Pyzik, Agata (8 May 2015). "Warsaw's Palace of Culture, Stalin's 'gift': a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 32". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  2. ^ "History of the Palace", at the official website (retrieved March 22, 2016)
  3. ^ a b "The Movement to Destroy Warsaw's Tallest Building". Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Call to Demolish Warsaw's Palace of Culture as an 'Architectural Monstrosity' and 'Affront to Poland' |". Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Call for demolition of Polish palace". 17 November 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  6. ^ AFP, Pulse News Agency International by. "In Poland: Top politicos "dream" of demolishing Stalinist palace". Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Warsaw Palace of Culture and Science" (PDF). Best Urban Freight Solutions. 24 May 2007.
  8. ^ "Warsaw: Don't Miss". Archived from the original on 16 August 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2008.
  9. ^ Małgorzata Barwicka (7 March 2007). "Pałac pod lupą". (in Polish). Tygodnik Ciechanowski. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  10. ^ a b c "History of PKiN in a nutshell". Retrieved 25 July 2008.
  11. ^ Pałac Kultury i Nauki "Historia" at the PKN official website.
  12. ^ Timothy Tilghman. "The Stones Tumultuous 1967 European Tour". Retrieved 25 July 2008.
  13. ^ "Leonard Cohen in Warsaw (1985) by Daniel Wyszogrodzki". 22 March 1985. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  14. ^ "Kinoteka: Wynajem sal". Archived from the original on 30 January 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  15. ^ 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 18 April 2008.
  16. ^ "Stolica: ponad dwa miliony na oświetlenie Pałacu Kultury" (in Polish). Onet Wiadomości. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  17. ^ "Świąteczne oświetlenie Pałacu Kultury i Nauki w Warszawie" (in Polish). 23 December 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  18. ^ "Pałac Kultury podświetlony w barwach Ukrainy [ZDJĘCIA]" (in Polish). Warszawa. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2015.

External links[edit]