Warsaw’s Palace of Culture – the Communist Monument that Outlived the Regime in Poland
Some tourists wonder if it’s the seat of Poland’s government. Others ask if it’s an enormous church. And for many it resembles the architectural equivalent of a wedding cake.
The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw is undoubtedly the Polish capital’s most recognisable landmark – and this year is celebrating its 58th birthday.
The Socialist Realist design was built in Warsaw as ‘gift’ from Stalin to the Polish people. Nowadays, it is home to a cinema, theatres, museums, bar, swimming pool… and a terrace that offers a panoramic view of Warsaw from 114 metres high.
The official history of the building reports the day that the palace opened, July 22, 1955: “In Joseph Stalin Square in front of the Palace of Culture and Science, at 4pm, the protocol was signed to hand over the Palace of Culture and Science from the Government of the USSR to the Government of the People’s Republic of Poland., as a gift from the Soviet people to the fraternal Polish nation.”
The Soviet Union lasted barely 35 years longer, while the monument that it left in Warsaw has already outlived it by some quarter of a century.